by Karen Christopher
September 17th & 18th 2010, Whitstable, Kent
This was a workshop focused on placing the writer to work in public contexts as part of the process of writing, as a mechanism of inspiration, and as a tool toward multi-vocal writing. It was an exploration in the way space and context and proximity to others affect the writing experience and the product of writing.
We undertook to understand what public is and how we wanted to approach it. We thought of writing in terms larger than words on paper, we called it composition. We walked in silence for two hours stopping at specific points to write in response to questions. We found alternative ways to compose from our written notes. We found ways to involve others whether or not they were conscious of our use of them. We took our shoes off. We listened to an elder from the town give us an oral history and show us amateur film footage from his archive. We watched and listened in the working harbour. We thought about intention. We smelled the fresh welks. We ordered coffees and teas. We designed working plans and chose locations, quietly working separately together. We took over the cafe. We set out separately to put our plans to the test. We reconvened. We saw that sometimes the plan is the creative act and is in fact better than following the plan. We saw that sometimes the plan takes you too far away. We read another’s work. We heard our words read by another. We began to understand how we are affected by place and by proximity to others, and by colours and smells and shapes. We understood something more about intention. We made the town our workspace. Everything was included.
Thinking Space was supported by the Live Art Development Agency and Whitstable Biennale, though the DIY programme.