What was the residential part of working with the Bowes Centre like?
As part of the commission the selected artists got to take part in a two day workshop with Museum staff. The was really great to get to know the lay of the land for the project. However, I’m going to talk about the place, rather than the content of the workshop.
I don’t drive, so I am often relying on the good nature of my fiancé to ferry me about. To cut down on the need for him to wait around with nothing to do I booked a flat in the town centre. We went up the day before the residency and had a lovely jaunt around. One of the biggest things I noticed was the lack of shrill seagulls fighting over scraps. Just sweet and calming songbirds. Holy crap! That really makes a difference to your frame of mind. I’ve been to Barney Castle a couple of times, and I really love it. This was my first overnight. I can’t wait for the next. Hopefully the weather will be as kind as it was this time around!
I love botany and nature. As soon as I am surrounded by trees, plants and the colour green I just feel at home. A balm for the soul. We got to catch a great sunset on the first night, and we stayed out fairly late to catch the changing light on the river. Waiting for the light was a delight in itself. I feel like a kid in a candy shop. Big things to look at, small things to inspect, multifaceted existence in all of it’s splendour. I saw a deer. I was chuffed!
This is relevant to the project because Mary Eleanor was also a bit of a nature buff. She loved horticulture, botany and gardens. A love passed down by her father who created Gibside Gardens. (That’s the next place to visit!)
Mary Eleanor helped to fund the famous botanist and explorer Joseph Banks, and if you need inspiration for a love of plants then there are far worse places to be than the North East.