Homegrown & Wild - our first commission

This is a guest blog from Kate Marsh, capturing her thoughts about how a residency in one’s home-town can recalibrate an artist's sense of self.  Kate & Welly's residency at The Green Backyard (GBY) was part of Season One of Platform8, and was funded by Unlimited Impact.  Many thanks to the GBY for their generous hosting and Paper Rhino for making a film about the residency, with Kate and Welly, which will be shown at the Platform8's first Networking event, 7-9pm Tues 1 Nov at Bewiched Coffee in Peterborough.  All are welcome.

And thanks to you Marshy.  This was a great place to start the Homegrown programme.

What does it mean to practice as an artist in the city in which you live? Or rather what is lost when there is a disconnection between your home and your artistic practice?

I have lived in Peterborough for over ten years, like many others, a number of factors (economics, personal wellbeing, family) forced a move away from London and back to the home where I spent the majority of my childhood and adolescent years.

It was teachers in Peterborough who sparked my interest in dance, forward thinking in their approach to teaching Performing Arts, I was exposed early on to exciting artists and practices that have and continue to influence my work in dance.

Interestingly, it is people again who have re-ignited my desire and enthusiasm to explore the area I live in as a starting point for making dance work.  For many years I have separated the work and home aspects of my life, travelling for work and arriving home to ‘switch off’, I recognise that this is a common practice for artists, we go where we are asked to go following and responding to calls and largely informed by ‘funding priorities’ in different geographical areas.

As I have worked this week with my collaborator and friend Welly O’Brien a mere 10 minutes from my house, I have wondered what happens when we don’t switch off, when the talking continues on the walk home, and the sky outside my bedroom window is the same piece of sky that I have worked under all day.

As a parent, being able not only to drop my children at school before the working day, but to involve them in my processes, unlike so much of my work, this project is tangible, I am a real artist to them, they can locate me in the geography of their lives, I am temporarily not engaging in some ‘imagined’ work ‘far away’ which is inevitably defined by ‘how late will you be?’ rather than, ‘what did you do?’.

Most importantly perhaps, this week at the Green Backyard has been about visibility, we are mutually making space for each other to be seen by the city we share, by dancing, filming, talking and collaborating with new artists I am trying to show this wonderful resource - which quietly, methodically carries on supporting people, land and communities - in the way I see it.

In turn the space and the people at GBY are making me visible as an artist in my home city, generously and unquestioning they have opened their space to us, without knowing what we might do; there is a genuine curiosity for what might emerge from both sides.