Tuesday, 9 September 2008

field & gate

a wasted morning going to the launch of an arts/museum fund called new expressions in Taunton. i found the event depressing on two accounts: the suggestion that the artists and museums 'speed dated' each other, and dried coffee in those thin packets with plastic cartons of milk (supremely bad signs). i wished i hadn't gone, and spent the time driving into Neroche trying to shake off the bad atmosphere that corporate wedding reception furniture generates. this soft horizon and september light helped.

on my way to the RSPCA Animal Centre in West Hatch, to see if i could meet up with any of the staff, introduce myself and the project, and arrange a couple of interviews. sometimes i phone ahead, but usually i prefer to call by - it's somehow easier to engage and to know if the person's up for the meeting. also, they get a sense of who i am and whether they want to be part of a conversation, or not.

i have really enjoyed these encounters on this project - often i'm daunted by approaching people but this time, it's been fine - perhaps a sense of 'nothing to lose' alongside a quiet confidence that my approach to this particular landscape in relation to things on the move, appeals to people (so many people love the swifts for example). i usually have mixed feelings about introducing myself as an artist, but again, i've done this every time. perhaps that comes from a clear kind of conviction that i feel right now, that it's the clearest way to frame what i do, and i like it as a way of living.

It's hard as an artist i find, to justify asking for an exchange with people who are clearly doing such practical, demanding and immediately necessary jobs, when compared to the more obscure and illusive role that the arts play in the world. but even so, i was interested to see how i could gather some material around the Animal Centre's role in taking in pets and domesticated animals, and re-homing them, and the Wildlife Centre's role in helping rehabilating wild animals that have been injured, for example they deal with cleaning oiled sea birds.

Anita showed me around the cats and the rabbits. there was a volunteer there, just doing cuddling i think, trying to befriend a frightened cat. well that's a thing, that's a good thing to do i thought.

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