# 10 www.a-n.co.uk/artists_talking [11 November 2011]
Working collaboratively - journeys through current projects..
It has been a busy time - reflected in how little I have been able to blog recently. Several substantial projects appeared, started and developed within a few short weeks of each other and it has been a challenge to keep grounded within my own work while meeting each project as whole-heartedly as I wanted. I have been trying very hard to keep a clear sense of identity as an artist, and as a collaborator as well.
First up there was SALT which was a collaborative residency with five other artists in Hastings at the end of the summer. I've written a little about our process of creating a single work from six very different artists, and it was one of those projects that flows smoothly from start to finish. Everyone gave of themselves, everyone committed completely to the project and we created something stupendous as a result, in the form of a working, hand built, industrial zone including a six-metre-long conveyor belt, a tea station, protective clothing and a tonne of de-icing salt. Then as that was finishing, I started a year-long residency at Saint Ronans School in Kent in September; a private school in which I am the first artist-in-residence. I feelall eyes are on me as I carefully negotiate the complex rituals, energies and behaviours of a school such as this one. It is the first time I have ever seen inside a private school and, in all honesty, I wished I'd gone there as a child the minute I stepped through the doors. It seemed to me to be a gentle bastion of old-fashioned good sense and decency. The pupils hold doors open for teachers while the teachers themselves are engaged, clearly pleased to be there.
I'm an outsider though, and not so much on the grounds that I was Grammar school educated. I am a member of staff but I'm not. I slip in and out of the walls and grounds like I'm on the hunt for something. I know all eyes are on me as I'm the first artist-in-residence at the school and that makes me feel, in turn, nervous and proud to be there and be the first. I am aware that each day I spend in the classrooms I am making tentative inroads into the collective emotional and psychological make-up of the school and its pupils and that is a privilege and a pressure too. I have moved a few things into my space but I'm still finding my way, learning who to run things past, feeling through my way as part of the intricate hierarchies of such an historic place.
And just as I started the residency, I literally had to drop the artist hat and put on my new project manager and curator hats to install the first of my Telling Stories exhibitions, in Margate. This was the hardest part of the journey for several reasons, not least because there was just so much work to do organising an exhibition of seven artists and their work.
I've dug out one of my to-do lists - dated Monday, October 3 - four days before the opening night - I had 27 things on my urgent list for that day with an extra 'mother-list' which ran for three full pages! But the biggest challenge was not the immense nature of the workload - it was shifting between being artist and one of the group showing work and going through process and into dialogue together, to then being project-manager and responsible for organising it and evaluating effectively for ACE.My relationship with the other artists changed minute-by-minute at some points which was at times difficult. The opening night was amazing though. As a group we attracted the warmth and good will of Margate with its many interesting practitioners and locals. Performance artist Yumino Seki brought her powerful and strange chemistry to the space, creating a series of movements as a dance piece which drew tears from some of the onlookers (for the right reasons). Margate has ended now, but it is time to start the long and intense process of drawing together the next group of artists, 14 in total to develop the concept into Telling Stories: Hastings for 2012. I haven't a clue how it will come together right now - I just know what work moves me and makes me want to dig deeper and learn more. All the time learning more, embedding down into a process to draw from it its treasure.