Creative Chat ‘n’ Blog – Genevieve Rudd

Listen to Genevieve’s podcast episode here.

On the day I spoke to David, with Marian Savill, it was the one year anniversary of the first Lockdown. Whilst it wasn’t timed to be the start of the blog series, as far as I’m aware (!), it did shape the drift of our conversation. But then again, has anyone been talking or thinking about anything other than COVID-19 for the past year? It has felt completely all encompassing, but the conversation with the three of us reminded me that taking the time for social connection can help put things into perspective.

A photo of artist Genevieve Rudd smiling with a Waveney & Blyth art trail leaflet.

As an artist, I have lots of ways to keep my mind occupied, but Lockdown has been universally energy sapping. Despite this, the lack of usual habits or access to resources gave way to inventiveness. This is something that chimed with Marian too. Both of us thrifty at the best of times, it was inspiring to hear how she also found new life for unwanted stuff, and how this connected with her wider lifestyle values around veganism and reducing waste.

Lockdown has encouraged more ‘localised’ thinking on the whole – such as doorstep clapping, mutual aid groups and window rainbows – we’ve all been forced to re-consider our relationships to our immediate environment. For many, this has been a suffocating experience, and for others, it has given a sense of freedom from their daily slog. Whatever the situation, it’s brought us all face-to-face with our own domestic reality in very close detail. For me, that detail has shown me the value in simplicity. 

Marian was inspiring to talk to; I’d never heard of ‘doodads’, but she has been doing #A100DaysOfDoodads. These mini sculptural pieces are made from tomato puree tubes, scrap fabric, threads, leaves, wire, stones and all sorts of things she found around her home over the past few months! I love this ethos and in my own practice, I have been exploring approaches with foraged, edible and recycled materials, and in turn, making my practice more sustainable. This explorations have predominantly been using Cyanotype and Anthotype photography, using plants and compost from my garden. 

‘Soil Circles’ 1 of 6. Cyanotype photographic print made using collected rainwater, home-made compost, recycled paper and sunlight, 5th-6th March 2021. Copyright Genevieve Rudd.
‘Soil Circles’ 1 of 6. Cyanotype photographic print made using collected rainwater, home-made compost, recycled paper and sunlight, 5th-6th March 2021. Copyright Genevieve Rudd.

This year has been many things, but one silver lining has been the time spent exploring and treasuring the small overlooked details of life, particularly in relation to the natural world. This year, I’m running an Arts Council England funded project, Yarmouth Springs Eternal, in partnership with original projects; in Great Yarmouth. We’re nurturing relationships with the natural world found in overlooked places through walking and art-making. If there is one thing I’ll keep from this last year, it’s to embrace simplicity, and from Marian, it’s the ‘use what you already have’ mentality! 

Written by artist, Genevieve Rudd.


Listen to Genevieve’s podcast episode here.

Read about Genevieve’s project Lets Take a Walk here.

Let’s Take A Walk – Reflection Blog by Genevieve Rudd

In her blog entry, Genevieve reflects on her experience as an artist during the period of lockdown, and her learning from her project Let’s Take A Walk, as part of MarketPlace’s commissions programme Creative Conversations In Isolation. Read about Genevieve’s project #Let’sTakeAWalk here.

Developing An Idea

Doorstep curiosity’ is a phrase I noted down during a Zoom catch-up with Creative Agent Ali and Marketing Officer Alice, a few days after the Let’s Take a Walk workshop. My own nature-informed arts practice took on a new resonance this year. Experiencing nature’s sights, sounds and sensations became essential to my wellbeing. The little things have really captured my attention. Self-seeded plants growing through the cracks in flint walls became a symbol for the resilience to find a way through. It was these experiences that inspired the project.

Let’s Take a Walk didn’t begin as a walk. In fact, for the Creative Conversations in Isolation call-out, whilst the country was under ‘Stay at Home’ orders, I wanted to find inspiration at home by unlocking stories in the objects we live with. I’d been running still-life drawing sessions over Zoom and through this, became curious about arranging and connecting with everyday ‘stuff’.

Creative Agents Ali and Colin, made it clear from the offset that this commission was flexible. They assured me that as the ideas developed, they’d support me to make it happen. It was refreshing to have an open brief and, as the world around us changed, so did the project. Exploring objects indoors became less appealing and spending time outdoors felt like the right way to go.

Before this year, I had never produced any remote sessions. In fact I had dismissed it as a ‘lesser version’ of face-to-face engagement, in which group dynamics feed the process. However as business as usual wasn’t possible, I had to eat my words and be open to adapting…

As the country moved into new measures, spending time outdoors was possible. However on-going restrictions meant families, friends and communities were – and still are – disconnected. One aim of Let’s Take a Walk was to support people to safely experience art and nature in the real world. The groups WalknCraft, based in Mildenhall and the March Can’t Sing Choir came forward as willing guinea pigs!

Getting Started

I hadn’t met the groups before, so I was initially concerned about how I would be received. However Ali and Colin supported the relationship and introduced me by email before the session. As I’m based in Great Yarmouth, I’m less familiar with the areas the groups live. Therefore the group picked their own familiar location to take part in.

At 10:00am on Friday 30th October, I sent the first WhatsApp message. I often feel nervous before the first workshop with a new group and this was no different. My worries soon faded away, as by 10:03am the first photo of a happy smiling participant popped up on my screen, and the rest followed. I spent the next couple of hours dashing between the laptop in my dining room and my garden, sketching along in between posting prompts.

At the end of the day, I collated the photos and videos sent during the session, and shared them during a Zoom reflection session. It was brilliant to see all the outcomes and hear honest feedback about what worked and what was found to be challenging.

Final Thoughts

For me, the workshop felt like a success because it felt like, well, a workshop! I saw their feet kicking through autumn leaves, listened to the birdsong they heard, and enjoyed seeing drawings in (almost) real time.

These ideas developed with CPP MarketPlace will inform my community arts practice as restrictions continue. Let’s Take a Walk has been a highlight this year as I felt supported to take a risk to develop my practice. The main thing I’ll take away is the importance of being flexible – something Ali and Colin emphasised right at the beginning. Another thing I’ll remember is these wise words from David: kicking through autumn leaves “isn’t a must do – it’s a compulsion!”.

Written by artist, Genevieve Rudd.

Read about Genevieve’s project #Let’sTakeAWalk here.

#LetsTakeAWalk with Genevieve Rudd

Part of our Creative Conversations in Isolation programme.

Artist Genevieve Rudd approached MarketPlace with the idea of a workshop that would connect people, using creative activities to explore their surroundings outside.

The Walk’n’Craft Group, based in Mildenhall, and the Can’t Sing Choir, based in March, were keen to get involved. Everyone loved the idea of getting together in a way that was socially distanced (in line with the government restrictions at the time), but still enabled them to meet and socialise.

On Friday 30th October 2020, Genevieve sent prompts via WhatsApp to both groups throughout their walks. She set creative activities which encouraged everyone to take time to look more closely, listen to and feel their surroundings and think about the landscape they were in. After a well deserved break, everyone came together to meet via Zoom. Genevieve shared the photos, videos and creations made during their walks in a Powerpoint presentation.

Download the PDF version of the activity sheet here.

When asked if the groups enjoyed the session, they were all positive about the experience. They were particularly pleased to try something different.

What did you enjoy and what will you take away from the session?
“Doing something different and way out of my comfort zone. Words are my comfort and drawing was really my discomfort but I enjoyed it. [I will be] taking away the idea that I have grandchildren in different countries, and we could all do them [the activities] together, so that was grand.”

The workshop was an interesting experiment for Genevieve and the MarketPlace team. Using a platform like WhatsApp to bring different groups together at the same time was new for us, and came from a need to find alternative ways to connect during the pandemic.

You can read about Genevieve’s experience and what she learned from the project in her new blog post here.

Click through to the Flickr album to take a closer look at the gallery of their other creations, photos and videos here.

Image reads "Featured on #ArtOfCovidChat podcast series. Click here to listen."

Listen to Genevieve’s podcast episode from the series #ArtOfCovidChat here where she discusses the challenges and triumphs through lockdown with fellow artist Marian Savill.