Intro: Peter Spafford

Hello, I’m Peter Spafford. I’m a writer based in Leeds. My work divides, but not very cleanly, into two areas which I call In Here writing, and Out There writing. In Here writing is me in my head, Out There is writing I do in participatory contexts: prisons, museums, schools, streets, hospitals etc. It’s all writing! But I do need a balance.

The actual space where I work on my own is not that important to me. I can write anywhere. When I’m working with groups – well, that’s different. But speaking in cultural terms, all the writing I do is around the edges of the mainstream. In other words, if I try to explain what I do to my very lovely but very conventional sister…

I went to Brazil years ago for three months and loved it. That’s one of the reasons I signed up to this. I am also interested in Ruth’s idea of Invitation. At the moment I’m working on a new performance piece combining text and music called Threshold, which explores the theme of trust: how far and on what terms do we let others, who may be strange to us in many senses, into our own spaces, houses, countries, lives? And as a stranger being offered such, how far do we trust that offer and how far do we come? In other words, what is your/my threshold?

I can’t make it this residential, sadly, but would like to stay involved as much as possible.

Intro: Ruth Ben-Tovin, Encounters Arts

Hello Im Ruth Ben-Tovim and I’m the creative director of Encounters we are a socially and ecologically engaged arts organisation based in Devon. For the last 12 years we have worked with different communities and agencies to create projects and processes that invite people to explore their relationships with themselves, each other, where they live and the wider natural world. I’ve realised when it boils down to it that I am passionate about THE ART OF INVITATION  how we invite, who is invited and who is doing the inviting

Our work falls into three overlapping strands; Food and Environment, Voice and Action, Life transitions. We tend to extend our Invitation to Join in in two main ways EITHER ; by creating liminal spaces where we invite diverse people across age, background, geography, to come together regularly over six months or longer to be and do together. In this case perhaps, we are creating or co- curating with participants,  micro communities, mini utopian spaces where every aspect of how we gather, share, eat, make,  enables us to explore who and how we want to be in the world at this moment of crisis and opportunity

OR ; we go to the street corners, social spaces, empty shops, community spaces, natural environments, and Invite people to join in as part of their everyday life, often as they  pass by or incidentally and people add themselves into co-authored evolving artworks

We survive through funding we get for our own artist led projects or through commissions where the outcomes are determined by others. Juggling these different routes so that we can make an Invitation is an ongoing challenge and we work with a lot of different stakeholders and partners ; community, health, local government, voluntary sector.

I’ve also been involved recently in the creation of a book called Playing For Time, making art as if the world mattered by Lucy Neal which I’d really recommend. It has contributions from over 60 artists all working locally ‘as if the world mattered’. In the book we have been exploring this practice and also the different roles we take on in this work as ; connectors, translators, conveners, hosts, catalysts, truth tellers, holders of space, enablers.

I’m really interested in how we HOLD the spaces we create and the art of this as opposed to the objects/results that might be created

I’ve not used Tmblr before so can’t see how I can add photos to this post …. So will do in another post… but on our website we have a museum section which shares all our projects

look forward to meeting you all

Ruth

A selection of Encounters Arts Photos: