EM15: East Midlands Graduate Project

3rd August - The First Day

I am sat in Mary’s Kitchen, waiting for my lunch. It is the perfect environment. There are no distractions of beauty. No easy, well-designed surroundings to lull us into lethargy. This is a functional, working person’s café, and its character allows us to function. Here we can write, think, create. All the necessaries are taken care of with nothing decorative to get in the way.

There are some nice cafés in town. Hip places to eat hip food and to be seen there being hip. Mary’s however is a place to duck out of the social traffic, to be alone with one’s thoughts and some good, hearty food. Here we can sit alongside bus drivers and roofers, and their readiness to work, their very presence in uniform and hi-vis, drives us to work. Or at least, think about it.

The first batch of artists have begun to move in, bringing in boxes and bags brimming with artistic paraphernalia. There are four here so far, half of the contingent. A hammock is being installed and there is talk of sleeping in the gallery. A good sign of engagement perhaps? Alison is taking notes, surrounded by books and ink pots. She looks up as I look at her, then we both gaze back at our pages and scribble away. She seems to be documenting me as much as I her.

Ben seems to have a clear idea of what he wants to do. He is amassing a collection of ironmongery and machines. A socket set lies open and ready to be used, a translucent oversuit hangs on the wall. Mike lays in his hammock, laptop open. His digital output allows him a more relaxed working posture. An impromptu desk made from tool-filled boxes sits in the corner with Billy, crouching over his cutting mat.

It is interesting to note the different working practices of artists. Obviously some of the methods are dictated by the medium, such as Mike’s. But there are ways of approaching one’s method that come down to an individual choice. Alison works with prints, and soon she will put examples of her work on the walls. But for now she sits, busy taking notes, not an image in sight. Her approach seems careful and considered.

The Project Space is still being prepared. Jez and Holly shuttle items down the stairs, clearing the room of its previous role. The artists prepare, making their notes, equipping their stations, bedding themselves in for the month of production. And I too ready myself to document and capture this process as it unfolds.