Friday, October 25, 2019

The Gatherings. What it's all about...

The touring mobile hut is becoming a locally recognised symbol of The Gatherings. We thought it was time to recap on what it’s all about….

Corky? Jabba? Hutty McHut Face?... Whatever name you would give to it, the hut has been travelling around Pendle all summer and now into autumn, meeting people who live in the towns and villages that circle Pendle Hill, enabling conversations in and about the area and showing work by artists and projects that are currently underway, all connected to the Hill.
The hut was commissioned by In-Situ and designed and made by artist and architect Nick Wood of How About? Studio. The initial idea to create a mobile space that could travel around Pendle was inspired by they history of the area, from the itinerary of the early Quakers, as they moved through Pennine Lancashire in the 1760s to the Clarion Huts which toured this area preaching the early message of socialism, and also shepherds huts that reflect the position of humans working in the landscape.

The finished Pendle Mobile Hut

Cutting a distinct shape against a rapid changing sky, its textured brown cork surface representing the rugged peat on Pendle Hill; this mini, mobile Pendle Hill reminds us not only of the fixed (yet not static), dominating presence of its name sake, but also of the way the hill can be seen from so many of the surrounding locations and is an everyday focus that pops up daily in people’s conversations, views and memories. It is a marker of place, a carrier and witness to many personal and communal associations, shared histories and familiar folklore and cultural customs.

Pendle Mobile Hut in progress, courtesy Nick Wood 

The design of the hut evolved through series of consultations and research visits and also out of early scoping that In-Situ had done with students at Manchester School of Architecture. When Nick travelled to the area to research the design, he visited local craftspeople, manufacturers, museums and archives to find out about local materials, colours, techniques to plot the visual elements to capture the essence of Pendle Hill in a tow-able form. The hut will be on the road for the next 3 years, to be a base for artist residencies and the teams working around the hill to spread the word about their activities and to engage with local people and visitors.

Five Verses on Six Sacks of Earth, Courtesy Reece Straw 

What is The Gatherings? 

The Gatherings is the arts and people strand of the £2.4m Heritage Lottery Funded scheme, Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership, which is managed by Forest of Bowland AONB.
The Gatherings came about because of the recognition for the need to open up access to the the Pendle Hill Landscape and introduce artists and creative processes to explore the hill and its past, its ecosystems and the way people connect with it. As In-Situ, we are able to bring to the project our experience of working with people in place connecting people and re-positioning how we experience a place through art or artists interventions and processes, which often involve conversation, listening and working in response to these.
Through The Gatherings we are aiming to find longer term approaches and collaborations with artists and embedding artists into longer term programmes. Through differences in the way we commission artists, support the artistic process and encourage a slower, more embedded way of working in place, we are challenging the traditional ways that artists are commissioned to work in the landscape.
Rather than bring something to a place and say “this is art”, we aim to find better or more embedded ways to work with artists in the landscape that lead to more unexpected, subtle or meaningful interventions - and there is likely not be a visible permanent end result. This is challenging because it involves risk on both sides, as it is not always clear what the result or methods will be from the outset, and is a slow process involving investment of time in getting many people on board and talking and revising, honing ideas in a collaborative way.

Pendle Peat Pie 

Pendle Peat Pud

As we continue to work on The Gatherings for the next three years, we are interested in finding more extended ways of working in an interdisciplinary way, recognising the crossover in working processes between artists, ecologists and archaeologists. We also recognise the very real benefit of working outside of your own area, to enriched the conversation, pool knowledge and challenge ourselves to think beyond the obvious. By continuing to develop working in this way we aim to find more effective ways to explore our shared interest in the Pendle Hill landscape.

A few recent projects

Pendle Peat Pie- a culinary dish inspired by the peat restoration on Pendle Hill and to spread the word through food about the importance of peat
Embedding Artists into Landscape Projects- a symposium for artists and commissioning organisations about alternative collaborative approaches
Beyond the Dig- artist duo devise outdoor activities for children and young people exploring ‘What is an archaeologist in 2019?’
Five Verses on Six Sacks of Earth- a mobile micro opera created in response to a residency on an archaeological dig at Malkin Tower Farm.

What is an Archaeologist in 2019? Courtesy Lunchtime Practice

Since 2017, In-Situ has been working with Forest of Bowland AONB on the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership. We deliver ‘The Gatherings’ strand of this £2.4 million Heritage Lottery Funded Project, which is part funded by Arts Council England. 

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