Good Pretty Things/Pretty Good Things (2015)

A Ridges and Furrows residency commissioned by the NK Arts Partnership and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund & A Bolsover Stories residency commissioned by First Art and funded by Arts Council England

The ‘Good Pretty Things/Pretty Good Things’ residencies were the first of many projects developed in partnership with artist Kate Genever. Working as Smith-Genever our collaborative practice is built on the belief that art is a serious business and that alongside the creation of work that is authentic, powerful and relevant, it can provide opportunities for personal growth and the building of resilience. Both of these residencies used my Moveable Museum of Found Objects as a touring creative space to spark conversations with visitors about the extraordinariness of the everyday.

The Ridges and Furrows residency explored the crafting heritage of people living in the market town of Sleaford, Lincolnshire. We created and toured a temporary exhibition of hand-crafted items to encourage visitors to share stories about their own crafting passions. We also set up a base at The Hub (the home of the national centre for craft and design) and invited residents of the town to share hand-crafted items from their personal collections with us. Working in collaboration with Adam O’Meara, senior lecturer in photography at the University of Lincoln, we used the wet plate collodion technique to create a series of photographic images of visitors’ items on glass plates. These, along with the items’ stories, created a unique archive of everyday hand-crafted objects and a snapshot of crafting passions within a rural English town.

During our Bolsover Stories residency, we pitched up with the Moveable Museum at a variety of unexpected sites, including an ex-mining estate, bingo hall, market, and castle, all in and around Bolsover, Derbyshire. Our mission was to seek out and celebrate the everyday objects that people collect and to create a welcoming space where their stories could be shared. We were humbled by people’s generosity as they shared stories with us about tough lives and challenging situations, often delivered with wit and stoicism. We documented this process by stitching banners (whilst in-situ) that captured snippets of conversations, recorded both verbatim and in the vernacular. The banners were displayed as an ever-evolving exhibition on the outside of the Moveable Museum and were photographed and projected as part of the wider project’s celebration event. Our favorite banners included ‘SHOULDERS PETE,’ ‘ALREET FER MASHIN,’ and ‘HE DINT LUK IS SEN.’

You can view a slideshow of images from this project here.