Moveable Feast Bothy:
An Itinerant Artists’ (Built) Residency Project
Date of Project: 28 May– 28 June, 28 July 2015
- Backyard of ECA, Lauriston Place, 28 May-12 June
- Gayfield Creative Spaces: The Depot, Leith, 13-15 June
- 188 Pleasance Rd, outside The Number Shop studios, 16-19 June
- Mortonhall Caravan Park, site No. 326E, 38 Mortonhall Gate, 20-24 June
- Canalside, Fountainbridge Quay, 25-28 June
- Bowden Estate, Scottish Borders, 28 July
Moveable Feast Bothy was a social studio residency project in which a group of six Edinburgh-based interdisciplinary artist residents designed and built a modular 8’ x 12’ wooden bothy that was sited at five different locations around Edinburgh and Leith. A structure built to move, the MF Bothy could be easily broken down and put up again at a different site, much like a collapsible tent, over the 17-day course of Embassy Annuale in June of 2015. The exact location of the Bothy at any time could be followed via the live on-line GPS Bothy Tracker at the Moveable Feast website. At each stop, the residents would hold a daily event of their choosing in order to pursue their own practice. These were comprised of film screenings, dinners, talks, workshops, private studio-time, or pop-up exhibition, all in various degrees of public-private access. Each resident committed to sleeping overnight in the MFBothy at least once during its five-location run.
MFBothy was conceived of by Patricia Healy McMeans, in collaboration with resident-artists: Stephen Kavanagh, James Currie, Matthew Poland, Donald Watson and John Corrigan. The early concept of this project co-opts the conversational tactics and improvisational camaraderie of what occurs “down the pub”. In fact, the size and structure of the Bothy itself were built around the spatial relation of a rectangular pub table with its surrounding one-meter-high stools at the Blue Blazer pub on West Port. The concept, preliminary drawings, and wearing-down of stubby builder’s pencils originated in this location amongst the six residents, and were then executed nearby over a week in late May in the Backyard of ECA at Lauriston Place.
Alongside the daily participation of these six residents, several outside guest-artists were also a part of specific day’s events, ranging from a one-nighter art show called Units curated by James Currie showing his work alongside Swiss artist Anne-Laure Franchette to a self-identified artist called Ben who used his truck to help move the flat-packed bothy each day. When sited at Mortonhall Caravan Park, the Bothy residents had a special intersession with artist Anthony Schrag as he moved through the locale during his long-distance performance walk from Huntly to Venice, a part of Deveron Projects and the Venice Biennale.
The moving-through-ness of the structure’s essential transportability challenges and investigates how artists’ mobility is enacted within the form of a studio residency, and the inherent transient nature of artists on residency. Its temporary positioning, achieved by a repetition of taking down and putting up again over and over, reflects the experiential learning which occurs whilst on residency, a process of learning by doing until something clicks.
Research Questions Investigated
Through this itinerant residency project, I aimed to investigate several aspects of my research question:
How do contemporary artists learn from their peers and others within artists’ residencies? Specifically, how does learning collectively and in situ affect artistic ideation and the creative process? How is meaning co-constructed in specific situations, and what kinds of peer-led structures, relationships, practices and forms of knowledge do artists produce within social studio residency? In Moveable Feast Bothy project, I exlpored questions of:
1) Itinerancy, or how movement occurs with temporary residents, and also with temporary space which is set up and then occupies a place for several days before being dismantled and moved
2) building and dwelling
3) transfer of knowledge
4) Private v. Public