Can you describe where you are while writing this and what you can see from your window?
As I am writing, I am gazing out at my beloved garden. I can see the pink foxgloves peeping out and can hear a sparrow insistently chattering away. The door is open and I can hear the trickling of water from the pond, the cat is sheltering under a wooden chair by the hedge. I feel privileged and grateful during this time, to have somewhere to call home.
What is your chosen medium for recording your Landlinks work?
My chosen medium usually involves my experiential body in space and time, this is usually my starting point. Out of this bodily experience may come text, possibly drawing, and stitch. These are mediums I am familiar with. Lately stitch has taken on a new importance since I began having a pain disorder which restricts my energy and movement sometimes. This condition has challenged to find a more internally reflective way of working.
Work in progress, concerning cracks, 2019, cotton fabric, red sandstone and sea water, Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, artist’s residency.
What and who is the 'driving' force or major influence for your work?
The driving force for my work is a need to communicate, make and respond to situations and places. I try to remain open and stay curious, feeling into places through sight, touch, hearing, imagination and words. I find pleasure in rural, urban and semi urban spaces but am most open when I am by the sea.
Still image from the film Continuum, 2018. Filmed on location at Three Cliffs Bay, Gower Peninsula. Film and editing by Vicky Vergou, performance and text Ann Rapstoff. A link to the film can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32Cdz9d663k
You work in a variety of different mediums...and working methodologies may differ. How important is research and experimentation to your work and can you outline some of your working processes for us?
I don’t see a distinction between research and material work they merge together and I forget where one starts and one ends. My working processes include reading, embedding myself in a place and listening to the heartbeat of a place and my own rhythms. I often collaborate and have in the past been involved in socially engaged practice, so communication is also a way to research and develop work.
Can you talk a bit about walking and the importance of walking in/to your work?
Walking tends to support me to get to know a place and is often a means of listening, observing. It loosens me up and helps to provide a bridge between the doing world and the being world.
Work in progress, Taking stones for a walk, 2020, charcoal, paper and stones.
What do you think about when walking?
I try to stay in the present when walking, being curious and open to thoughts and experiences. Walking is an opportunity to move and be in my body. Sometimes I am taken away to a life event or emotion I might have experienced, but I try to bring myself back to the present moment.
Walking on Water 2014, part of project entitled Continuum, (photograph, Vicky Vergou
You are part of the Landlinks project and the synchronised walk that took place April. We would love to hear your feedback on this networking initiative and your resulting creative response to that walk.
Initially when I saw the guidelines for the walk, I felt a little anxious about using technology and following what I saw of as “rules”. This was an initial response which was interesting to observe in myself. However once I started the walk I found the parameters gave containment and enabled me to see the walk through new eyes. If I wouldn’t have had these guidelines I don’t think I would have ventured in a new direction from the walk I know well and wouldn’t have observed things around me through the same eyes. The walk came at a difficult time when Covid 19 was at a peak time, it enabled me to see the possibilities of making work during a time of limitations and the possibility of collective change.
Do you collaborate with other artists or groups? If so who and why?
I collaborate because I am not interested in naming my work as mine, or needing to have autonomy over it. I like communicating and seeing the bigger picture and believe that working with others from numerous back grounds and experiences shakes me out of my own way of seeing the world and enriches possibilities to go beyond one’s own limitations.
Work in progress concerning water, found objects and Thames river water, Filament 14, 2015. Magdalen Road studio, collaboration with Vicky Vergou, 2015.
Landscape and the environment are both important areas of creative exploration to you. With current concerns about our environment, how do you see your role as an artist?
This is a complex question and I am not sure I can do it justice. I am still learning and exploring my relationship with the environment, its an on going process of awareness. I hope my work communicates, honours and speaks with the environment. Although I would not say I am an activist, I feel the act of responding and conversing with place is a subtle form of activism.
Can you describe your favourite place and why?
This is a hard question as there are many, but I would choose Valley of The Rocks in Lynton, in North Devon. It has an other worldly quality and the rocks transport you into another universe. I love the way goats wander around there and when you arrive at the rocks it’s a little like one has come to the end of the world.
The Covid 19 is having a massive impact on so many lives. Are you able to say what effect it is having on your working/creative life and what you have planned once Covid 19 retreats?
I don’t have anything planned for after Covid 19, maybe I cant see beyond it at the moment,as its been such a massive historical moment in the life of us all. I am trying to experience this time in history for what it is, enjoying the slower pace of life and the permission to be more internal and reflective. I suppose if I could think about anything for the future it would be to re-experience the red sandstone cliffs of The Pembrokeshire coast around Manorbier.
Research and Development 2019, cotton fabric, red sandstone, sea water and embroidery thread, Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, artist’s residency
Your work takes in many locations and often references a ‘place’. This obviously influences your creative response. Is there a place that means more to you and why?
I would say my garden is my teacher in numerous ways. I learn that I cannot always plan, that I cannot have control over things and I need to sometimes wait with patience. All these experiences support me in slowing down and listening and giving me to space for ideas to percolate.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading A Journal of The Plague Year by Daniel Defoe. I felt the urge to read it when we were in lock down, it is about the Bubonic Plague in London and although written in about 1722, it has a great deal of relevance to today to the current Covid 19 situation.
What are your other interests?
My main interest is gardening, which is a driving force in my life. I adore seeing things grow from seed and watching cuttings grow into strong plants. I like the fact that my little space contributes in a tiny way to supporting the life of bees and other insects and hope soon to be fully able to provide the house hold with vegetables and some fruit. I love music and feel it helps me to access emotions when I feel stuck or out of touch with myself.
Ask and answer your own question/s
I am asking myself about where the politics and social awareness is in my practice?
I am reading and discussing issues with others on racism and the impact of white privilege. I am examining my own views and implicit bias. I don’t overtly bring politics into my work but by making the art I make and putting it out there I am questioning the world we live in. I hope I can step out of the way and walk with other voices that have been deprived of developing their practice.