I came to Skimstone when I was working on my Gold Arts Award and was welcomed by the Young Artists Collective from the start. Throughout my time as a member of the Young Artists Collective I have been involved in activities a lot different to my usual arts practice, from writing collaborative pieces to taking part in a performance.
I usually write novels, meaning that there is a long period of working alone on a draft before I can seek feedback from others. This can feel quite isolating at times and it was refreshing to join a community focused around arts practice. Working on A Natural Anthem was an invaluable experience for me.
My leadership project for Unit 2 of my Arts Award was focused around my role in A Natural Anthem. I attended the Young Artists Collective Leadership Team meetings and designed the feedback sheets for visitors to the exhibtion to leave their comments.
I also took part in the photography for A Natural Anthem, taking part in the photoshoot for exhibition images. Alongside Jess I wrote the labels for the photographs and also produced a piece for performance on Lark Radio. I’m not a natural performer but when someone was needed to carry the flag for the procession on the opening night of the exhibition I volunteered. It was an interesting experience!
One of the most important lessons I learned while working on the exhibition for A Natural Anthem was knowing when to let go of a piece and allow it to fly (or fail) on its ownv merits. With the exhibition date set, artwork and recordings had to be ready for display. This meant there was only limited time to have everything ready, from seed packets for the installation to the musical performances.
I paid attention to this in my outside artistic practice too. A novel I had wrote the previous year had placed as runner-up in a national competition for young writers. The first prize had been publication by a major publishing company. I spent some time improving the novel before realising, soon after my time at Skimstone, that it would be better to move on to new projects.
Luckily, I did! I’m now working on two new projects and am really focusing on making them as good as they can be. Earlier this year I received a scholarship to attend the Winchester Writers’ Festival and had a great time there, learning from literary agents, editors and authors.
While A Natural Anthem was my largest involvement in a project, I was also at Skimstone for the start of the Reality Boots project. The photoshoot for the album cover in an abandoned house close to the studio was one of the highlights of my time there. I was also at the session when the name Reality Boots was chosen but, as university term time was drawing close I wasn’t able to stay.
I’m now at Durham University studying History and squeezing in plenty of time for writing related things. I’ve got editorial roles at two student media sites, write for a third, and recently had a piece published on the student section of the Independent’s website. I’m also Secretary of the Creative Writing Society at Durham.
Being a part of Skimstone Young Artists Collective has been great and hopefully I’ll be able to keep popping in when I’m free for some time to come!
A Natural Anthem