Creative Sabbatical – Leeds

Posted 21 October 2013 in Residencies

By Andrew Mottershead.

This morning we were here to generate ideas. We focused on portraits of people who intimidate us in our neighbourhood, and thought about how we could make this project look as weird as possible.

Our temporary home for our second self-prescribed creative sabbatical is one of the newly converted small ceramics studios run by East Street Arts, at Barkston House in Leeds. We’ve been here a week, and yes we’ve thrown a few pots (not at each other) on the potters’ wheel, and we now appreciate that ceramics has a kind of magic.

This afternoon my mind followed up the mornings work by meandering through possible cognitive interview techniques, trying to imagine what it would be to don the responsibilities and skills of a forensic facial reconstruction practitioner (or do we just employ one), via ruminating on a movement analysis report made with Alex Baybutt on Ryan Giggs’ goal against Arsenal in 1999 FA Cup Semi Final.

It’s hard to put a price on a day like today. Financially, we’re on about £90 per day as per our ACE budget. But that measure doesn’t really compare with value I’m feeling at the moment – we’ve had a whole studio day to think, research, head scratch and develop on a bunch of self-generated enquiries not prompted by a.n.other. Time and space to wander are a valuable commodity, and I’m reminded of a tutor on foundation at Northwich College of Art in the late 80’s, who declared something similar to the new intake I was part of.

Last week, we were asked to sort and put a price on second-hand bric-a-brac and clothes when we volunteered at the Emmaus project – a charity here in Leeds that helps the homeless, providing jobs and accommodation and support via secondhand retail and a hostel. Sorting through boxes of dead people’s possessions, we’re had to judge whether anyone would buy it (if not scrap), or imagine how much ‘you’ would pay for it (between 1p & £5). Sad to say there was not much ‘retail’ value in the stuff I sorted with lots of 5p plate’s, except for a beautiful deep purple hand blow vase (£3.50), and a 1930′s make-up mirror with curvy legs, a mint condition glass, and an authenticating dust patina (£1.50).

The artist Grayson Perry spoke of a patina of different kind during his Reith lecture last week. Whilst his pieces go for over £100,000 a pop, he spoke of the art world’s ultimate commodity to be bestowed on an artwork is a patina of ‘seriousness’, developed through a consensus of curator and critic validation and the good prices over time.

Seems that value is not all dictated buy how much you yourself put into it…