Hermit project - stage 1
'Make of me what you will'. Croft woodland. 2010. Curated by Meadow Arts.
The starting point for this three day performance was to look at my dependency on and how I am fashioned by my community, and explore what psychotherapist and teacher Margaret Landale coined ‘the longing for belonging’. However, as the days wore on, it was evident that this was a lot more about the exchange of gifts and the complex responses I experienced around that.
I began by defining an area of woodland with a rope, installed counters for giving and receiving on the perimeter and began the three day performance with nothing...no clothes, shoes, food, water or shelter. I invited visitors to ‘create’ me.
In the spirit of contemplation, I had intended to remain silent for the three days. However, I was taken unawares by the excruciation of receiving gifts without any means of reciprocation. And so I spoke as a way of giving something in return. The purpose of the performance had changed. It was now not solely about endurance and belonging; it became primarily about exchange and the social politics of reciprocation. The power of gifts.
In ‘The Gift‘, Marcel Mauss argues that gifts are never ‘free‘. Human history is full of examples that gifts give rise to reciprocal exchange. The famous question that drove his enquiry into the anthropology of the gift was: ‘What power resides in the object given, that causes its recipient to pay it back?’ The answer is straightforward: the gift is imbued with ’spiritual mechanisms’, engaging the honour of both giver and receiver. Such transactions transcend the divisions between the spiritual and the material in a way that, according to Mauss, is almost ‘magical‘. The giver does not merely give an object but also part of themselves, for the object is indissolubly tied to the giver.
Hermit Project - stage 2
The Decorative Hermit and his Machine for Drawing. In development.
This project is a collaboration between designer David Connor and sculptor Mark Richards. David Connor has designed a floating hermitage in which Mark Richards will spend nine days drawing as a means of contemplating nature. The Hermitcraft, which in amphibious, will be an extraordinary object. A dome shaped two storey cabin clad in sycamore shingles stands on a raft supporting a deck chair which can be extended over water or ground and swivelled in any direction. Drawing will take place from the chair as well as at other positions around the craft. For the duration of the performance the hermit’s contemplation, brought about by observation and drawing, will highlight our humility in the presence of nature. The Hermitcraft will be the means by which this is achieved. It is a habitation, observatory and studio that functions like a hide but which itself is being watched. This work develops Mark's drawing and exchange performance (see above) and the Hermitcraft continues a theme in David’s design based upon the folly.