Tight schedule 25/02/2014

Tuesday morning I arrived in my painting gear to set to work painting the peach strip on the lower basement ceiling. In a grade II listed building doing anything of this nature is quite a proceeder. With a band of volunteers we sent to work. This was such a momumental moment for us as this was literally the first time we had made our mark on the property.

In the afternoon Ashliegh Moore and I met with Rosie Poebright founder of Splash and Ripple and another resident at the PM Studio. Over the last couple of weeks I have also had to begin to think about the second exhibition I will be producing. Loosely based on a gaming theme targeted at children and families we want to provide a creative way for people to learn snippets of Croome's history. It was fantastic to meet Rosie properly and to pick her brains. With projects currently at Bodenham Castle and _____ she will be instrumental in helping us deliver this exhibition successfully. It was a really productive afternoon as we discussed and shared our ideas. It was only then that I realised how little time we have to deliver it in time for the summer holidays.

Wednesday was also a ridiculously busy day. Maud, our resident shoe maker returned to Croome and met with myself and the second group of artists (Lisa Sheppy, Tamara Aitchi and Jon Wilks) who were wanted to work with her to transform/ reinterpret a pair of shoes. It was exciting to hear of their developments and how their projects were procressing. After lunch I met with them again in the novel studio space that we are offering to resident creatives to use during their time here at Croome. The rest of the team also gathered as prepared to meet with a furniture maker who is going to be commissioned to make bespoke furniture for the artists to use within the same.

At 3pm Sian Macfarlane arrived, a film artist who will be joining my second group of artists. Meeting her at the RAF reception we walked down to the house as I introduced her to Croome. It was lovely as we bumped into Graham a new volunteer who was able to share even more gems of knowledge. Sian wants to focus on the early life of Maria Alicia, Maria Gunning's eldest daughter. After chatting through her proposal I left to explore the house as I caught up with Ashley James Brown.
It was fantastic to finally meet Ashley in the space to discuss the project. He had also arrived in time to meet the consultant from the electricity supplier which Ashliegh Moore has been
Catching up with Ashley B
Meeting Rosie to think about Games
Extending my days
The last couple of weeks have mashed together as I have been waiting to hear the fate of the installations electricity supply. It didn't fill me with hope when I arrived one morning to find that within three hours we had about ten power cuts due to the circuit being overloaded. For a brief moment I even contemplated running the installation on batteries!

The students pieces are technically quite challenging to deliver and they have been finding it difficult to work out how they are able to implement their ideas. With help from Molly Price, I spent the day trying to simplify the technical demands for the students boxes and working out the technical shopping list of all the different components involved. Striping back some of the over complex layers of technology we have focused on the artistic intent and found simpler ways of presenting their message which doesn't involve a mass of coding.
Confirming Ashley Brown: 10/02/14

I am a little late in getting this post live. As you can imagine it is all systems go at the moment but I have stolen a few moments to update you on this week’s tasks.

Over the weekend I managed to confirm Ashley James Brown as the Creative programmer who is going to help us install the student’s works and the main lighting in the shoe racks for March. We have also planned to wait to do the Kinect animation which will bring the project to life in April so everything was a little more manageable. The time seems to be whipping past at the moment; I can’t quite believe it is mid Feb already!

I was feeling rather chuffed as I drove to work as I was back on top of my never ending to-do-list. This was sadly short lived. The realisation of how much electricity and plug socket access for us to deliver this installation is going to a tricky voyage to navigate. Fortunately, Ashleigh Moore, Creative Programme Assistant will mostly be behind the wheel on this one as I focus on the students.
Meeting the next batch of Artists: 4/02/14

This week was particularly exciting as I got to put a face to the names to the applications I had shortlisted. I invited four artists with very different practices to join me at Croome for a tour of the house and grounds where we could have an informal discussion about their applications. I am keen to ensure that no pair of shoes within the installation are the same. Sue and Eric two of the volunteers joined us and gave us an amazing tour of the Croomes grounds.

Tom Bennett, the Creative Director joined me as I took each applicant to one side to discuss their applications in more detail. First on the list was Anna Mitchell who's practice is based in clay and sculpture. She offered an intriguing perception on the time when the Hare Krishna’s were resident at Croome. Over the course of the next couple of months she will make 8 panels of porcelain paperclay, to portray the sense of unification within the Hare Krishnas community, by depicting their bare feet.

The next applicant was Lisa Sheppy, an artist working in glass and ceramic who is interested in breaking down the shoe and creating shoe fragments whilst looking at the women who were in the RAF during the second world war.

Jon Wilkes had a playful approach and wanted to create a pair of survival boots for a soldier who was gunned down in action. He wanted to conceal hidden compartments within the heel of each boot.

Tamara Aitchi felt inspired by a servant called Fanny Ward who worked at Croome in the early 19 Century. A talented seamstress Tamara wanted to capture Fanny’s life downstairs and convey her life through embroidery.

Each artist chose their shoe boxes and went away brimming with ideas. I am looking forward to see what they come back with.
Shortlisting Artists: 30/01/14

Over the past week I received a medley of emails from prospectus applicants who was interested in applying for the Soul to Sole Residency, which I had listed at the beginning of January. I waited for Monday’s deadline nervously and was pleased to see we had a wealth of applicants working across the spectrum. It was interesting for me to see how they each had interpreted the application.

After much consideration I finally selected four of them to come and meet me at Croome the following week. I chose these four as they each had a unique approach to the commission and would offer another strand of creativity to the installation as whole. I also felt that the commission would challenge each of them and their practice in a different way.

On the Wednesday, I met with Helen Holmes who is the tutor to the Worcester Uni students who are the first group of artists to contribute to the installation. We met in the RAF reception and over a cup of tea actioned planned and compared timetables. It was a very productive meeting as she relieved me of some of my jobs stacking up on my to-do-list and helped me schedule when the final outcomes would be finished whilst working within the students academic schedule.
The Hunt: 22/01/2014

The hunt was on as this week’s mission was to find and secure a technologist who was free and able to help us. Ashley James Brown (Ludic Rooms) had admittedly stuck in mind from my past few weeks of networking and meeting people. Passionate, bubbly and super geeky what more could I ask for?

Due to our short turn around time it was a tenuous moment as he checked his calendar. Fortunately he was able to shuffle a few things round to make time for us.

I have always believed that the space for viewing artwork is as equally important if not more so than the actual artwork. For the Soul to Sole exhibition our vision is to stage the shoe rack, making it the focal point in the room. Each box will be lit, with a selection of them being animated and reactive as viewers enter the space. Hidden in the room will be two Kinects that will track and monitor visitors movements and will respond by leading them to different shoe boxes within the rack. Each shoe box an intimate installation acting as a portal as it encapsulates a character and a moment from Croome’s vast history.

In the next couple of weeks the lower basement will be completely transformed. We have managed to find and source the appropriate green paint to touch up and hide the peach stripe in the middle of the room, a task that isn’t as straight forward as it seems. We are actively working out the best way to light the space and what lighting rig we should purchase. Andrew Kristy is still working on the generative soundscape to set the scene and is hoping to install it within the next few weeks. The students have begun to pull together their individual boxes and shoes. I personally can’t wait to see when Ashley has programmed and animated the space to react when viewers enter the space.
Travel Miles: 16/01/14

This week I have gained quite a few travel miles as I trained my way to Coventry and Birmingham to meet some exciting creative technologists and shamelessly network. After a bit of a chaotic commute I met Ashleigh, Croome’s Creative Assistant at Coventry to meet Ashley co-founder of Ludic Rooms. Kindly picking us up at the station he took us to his studio, Studio 22. A beautifully transformed canal port which has been entrusted to be Coventry’s hub of creativity.

Stuffing us with tea and biscuits, I learned of paper aeroplane throwing robots, archaeological immersive archives and realised how closely knit the digital interactive world really is. It was not long however, before we were back on the train and making our way to the Custard Factory to meet Nikki Pugh and later Lisa Meyer founder of Capsule.

The following day I was back on the train and heading south to the PM Studio, Watershed, Bristol. In the morning I caught up with my mentor Molly Price who helped me unpick some of the mind boggling and rather geeky aspects of the installation, focusing on the lighting design and interactive elements. It has become rather evident that we need to find and secure a technologist who can help me implement these ideas. So I find myself dashing to complete a Technical Application Overview so we can start approaching a creative technologist.

At 2pm I was booked in to meet up with Verity McIntosh, PM Studio Producer who I met at the Wearable Futures conference to discuss the project and to see if it would be possible for me to embark on a Creativity Residency within their studio and hot desk a couple of days a month. I am delighted to say that I have been accepted. The PM Studio is an amazing place and since my first visit in November I am in complete awe of the place. Filled to the brim with fresh, creative talent all working on weird, wonderful and ingenious ideas. This will be such an amazing opportunity as I will be able to pick their brains as I try and work out the technicalities of the students boxes.

A whirlwind of a week: 7/01/2014

We returned from our festive break and dived back into planning the exhibition. My first day back Tom, Ashleigh and I started the day with a large cup of tea as we compared notes and set about doing our to-do-lists for the weeks ahead. The rest of the day I mostly sat at my computer in the novel office space in one of Croome’s luxurious bedrooms on the first floor, tweaking and finalising the Sole to Soul Application Pack.

As part of the application we felt it was important that we offered a kind of resource to help inspire and intrigue artists with their responses. As if you have been to Croome, like me you soon realise that there is a huge amount of history within every nook and cranny of the place but it is not always that easy to find out. I often feel as if I have only scratched the surface with my knowledge of the place. We asked Chris Wynn-Davies, one of the volunteers to take on the mission of collating a document to archive everyone who has ever lived, worked or been at Croome in a digestible and accessible format. During the week he also introduced me to Louise Clement , a fountain of information when it comes to Croome’s 20th Century history. For the past few years she has been managing the Friends of Croome Oral History archive and has a wealth of information to share. She was even able to give us information on the origin of the shoe rack at the centre of the exhibition. Jill Trovey, Croome’s archaeologist, who is well versed on the 18th Century period has also been busy digging out a list of names and insights - so between them Chris will be well on his way I’m sure.

On Wednesday the students returned to Croome to give their final presentations to the volunteers. After several months of planning and pushing their ideas they each arrived carrying an array of models, mood boards and inspiration boards. I sat back proudly as I watched each of them, each having developed in confidence and creativity since I had seen them last. The volunteer’s seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves as they began to understand and appreciate the ideas behind the exhibition. With some final tweaks and suggestions they each have until the end of February to produce their final piece for exhibition. (Images right were taken by Jack Nelson, Croome's resident photographer)

By the end of the week I was ready to list the commission application pack. As I sent it off to each site or distributer I couldn’t help but feel a little intrigued by who will find it, be inspired and apply .

Karla,  Final Presentation, Croome

Karla, Shoe Mock up, Croome

Aida, Shoe Box, Mock up, Croome

Meeting Molly Price: 18/12/13

This week I got to meet my mentor Molly Price of Jason Bruges Studio in London and Diffus Design in Copenhagen who will be working with me to help deliver the Soul to Sole installation.

The day started with a fresh, somewhat dam walk around the grounds as I gave Molly a tour and introduced her to Croome. A little windswept and suffering with rising dam we entered the main house through the basement doorway which led us straight into the space where Sole to Soul will be presented. Instinctively our creative minds started plotting as we discussed how the space will be used and transformed for the installation. However, when there was mention of mince pies and sugary treats in the volunteer rest room we found ourselves a little distracted. In joining the volunteers on their Christmas celebration we were introduced to Tim, one of the basement tour guides who before I knew it had swept us away on a mini tour. Full of passion and exciting insights, Tim whirled us through the skeletal history of Croome wetting our appetites to return and learn more in the New Year.

For the rest of the week, in the mad rush before Christmas I set about measuring the rather wonky and random shaped basement so Molly and I can make a clear installation plan of the space. Over the Christmas hols I will certainly be kept busy as I prepare the install plans and block diagrams of each of the student's work that will be going on display.

Walking in the grounds at Croome

Shoe Rack Croome Court

18century Croome plan

London – Wearable Futures Conference: 11/12/13
Wearable Futures - where science and art combine to make mind blowing technologies, fashion and devices. I have just had two full days of getting geeky and being in awe of the fresh talent out there. I can’t really express how brilliant it was there was everything from fashion designers and scientists making their own thread from fermented bacteria to make clothes, there were clothes that changed colour when they detected pollution, scarfs that sprayed strangers if you felt uncomfortable, designers working on devices to help with new leaps into how medicine is administer and how our health is monitored. Shoes with GPS, a watch which monitored your emotional time relating to your heart beat. Traffic lights where you could play Pong as you waited to cross the street. If you didn’t go, you certainly missed out!

I was delighted to find that a few of the people I had met at Persuasive Medio Studio,Bristol a few weeks previously were also presenting (Verity McIntosh pictured right - delivering one of my favourite talks of the entire conference) For those of you who missed it you can see see some of the presentations here.

Wearable Futures 2013 Conference

Wearable Futures Conference London

Sole to Soul: 05/12/13
For now, I shall only tell you about the Sole to Soul exhibition which looks at the vast speckling of Croome’s history and challenges creatives across the spectrum to reinterpret and transform a pair of shoes to capture a character and moment from Croome’s history. These will be presented within the shoe rack, a remnant from when Croome was a Nun’s boarding school, which can be found in the lower basement. There are up to 144 shoe cubby’s up for grabs and over the next four years we hope to fill them with a medley of intriguing, intricate and imaginative responses. For the next 9months it is my mission to work with 30 artists to deliver 30 unique shoes.

So far five third year Worcester Uni students have been invited to take part in the programme and after several briefing sessions are currently in the throes of making and experimenting as they prepare for their final presentations in front of the Volunteers in the New Year. Last week we had the great pleasure of helping them with one-to-one tutorials to tweak and refine their ideas. I am really looking forward to seeing the mock ups next year!
Soul to Sole Marketing Image
Croome Redefined: 03/12/13
I have just started working for the National Trust as a digital producer on their Croome Redefined Project which they will be piloting over the next four years. Croome Court is one of 5 properties who will be experimenting with a new visual arts programme for visitors to explore and engage with and I am one of the lucky few who have been invited to be a part of the creative team to help deliver it.
During my time there I shall be documenting my progress and the activities within this blog. To get you up to speed this is my second week and over the next year I will be responsible for delivering two exhibitions and a ticketed event.





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