So, I'm back from my time on the Mothership artist residency in Dorset and I thought I'd tell you all about my wonderful writing week. I'm grateful to have been given the space, views and time to reflect on current / new work and future longer projects.
I arrived at Bridport Station on the Saturday afternoon and artist and residency organiser Anna Best kindly collected my mobile library and I and showed us to the studio space that would be our home for the week.
After tucking my books, notebooks and laptop in, I tagged along with Anna for the Force 8 evening film screening that she runs (with Hester Schofield) in a chapel in charming West Bay, Bridport. Afterwards we walked the dog around the harbourside and then went on to another little art disco event afterwards, before returning to Copse Barn so that I could turn in early to get up and on with things the next day.
Returning to the workspace in the darkness I was struck by the silence of the roads, the expanse of fields spreading out all around, and the ever-present trees outside my wall of glass, somehow strongly reassuring but also, of course spooky. I sat looking out into nothing but country, the night, the forest, uninhabited space, and my own lone reflection in the glass.
Recently I have been writing more and more about my childhood, the good and the bad, the remembered and the misremembered. Something about being on the outskirts of a very small village in the woods and hills of Dorset with this huge view out into the green and quiet, really took me back to growing up (the first part of it, there's been a whole other part of it in both my twenties and my thirties).
I have been drafting and redrafting new and newer poems about being lost as a small child and enjoying it, about mothing – catching moths – which I used to do with my grandfather on summer holiday visits in Cornwall, and more on moths and bugs, actually... Something about writing into the night in this big glass-fronted lightbox, that sent me off into thinking of the moth experience, of exposure too, and the dark. Of loneliness and vulnerability, of tricks of the light. A couple of nights I woke to torrential rain, and then to mist in the morning, but no gorillas.
On the one day that the sun came out in force, I also had the opportunity, away from the city living of my adult life, to muck in with nature. I put the geese and chickens to bed, petted the ponies and, as my accounts are in a very poetic sorry state, I paid my way for my stay with an afternoon of gardening on the veg and herb patches, weeding out nettles and dandelions and fading chamomile and more... allowing the rainbow chard and the last of the beans to breathe, and eating veg and salad pick-fresh from the garden for my dinner. I also enjoyed my short skill sharing session on storytelling and phobias and scary clowns with the family.
|A lot of weeding!|
|But we don't want to go to bed, though...|
As well as moving closer to putting this collection to bed, and ensuring both a range of subjects and a flow between the sections, I was able to think about and work on other projects, finally finishing a story touching on weather and climate change which I have been carrying about for two or three years now, and moving forward with a couple more longer ones and lightly thinking ahead to some non fiction and longer work I'd like to get on with next, once the stories and the poems are finished.
For me, it was the perfect mix of reading, research, writing and reflection. Taking walks in the lush surrounds of the Mothership, observing the weather and the outdoors from my desk and visiting Dorchester and Bridport for art and short wandering / supply shopping trips with Anna.
I am pleased to say that I have been invited back, it feels like a place I could happily build a relationship with. Many thanks to Anna, her daughters and the animals for making me so welcome and giving me some independent creative alone time to crack on with new work with no added pressures or distractions.
If you would like to find out more about more about the Mothership which has the studio, and also a caravan available for artist residencies and collaborations for part of the year – look out for call outs for submissions – and can also be hired short or longer term, please visit: http://annabest.info/the-mothership/
Bye for now!
Susie Q x