This spring and summer I have had the pleasure of collaborating with dance artist and filmmaker Stacie Lee Bennett-Worth again as we were commissioned by Turner Contemporary in Margate to create a new piece of work in response to the gallery’s first ever photography exhibition - Seaside: Photographed.
The concept behind the commission was to embrace the power of play inspired by children under the age of 5 in order to encourage us as adults to think, look and engage with the seaside environment in a different and more curious way.
Our process began in March 2019 with myself and Stacie delivering a series of 6 workshops at the Turner and Margate beach with local families in partnership with Thanet Early Years. The workshops that utilised a mix of movement and digital media activities, responded to various themes around the seaside that aimed to resonate with the young participants and their families the most. We explored wave patterns, textures of the beach, beach portraits, mapping and lots of fun contact work between the children and their adults. We were lucky enough to work with a regular group of families over the 6 weeks and it was a delight to see how all of the participants grew in confidence with the activities, spaces and when moving with each other.
The workshops were invaluable for myself and Stacie to figure out what kind of work we wanted to make, not only in response to the themes and imagery of the exhibition but also by being inspired by the first hand encounters we had of early years children exploring the seaside.
The key thing we took away from the workshops was the sheer joy and creativity children experience when they are given the freedom to charge around and consume a space physically and how this freedom can translate to adults when they are invited to take the lead from a child.
This idea inspired us to make two works for our commission that would sit alongside the photography exhibition. The first was a film installation that would capture moving portraits of some of the families we had met in the workshops and the second was a vinyl floor installation that would invite gallery visitors to move and play in the space in ways inspired by the physical actions we experienced when working with the children.
When deciding where our works would be placed within the galleries, the floor was a clear choice from very early on in the process. This was not only because it would be the clearest surface given that the exhibition photographs would be presented on the walls, but also because the floor is a natural draw for young children to sit, slide, roll, fall and lie on and is a place that as adults we generally don’t engage with a great deal. We hoped by placing the works on the floor that it would encourage all visitors, regardless of age, the opportunity to look and experience the exhibition from a different perspective.
Our film (High Tide | Low Tide) and vinyl installation (Tide and Seek) will be on display until the 8th September 2019 at Turner Contemporary when the Seaside: Photographed exhibition will be moving on to it’s next touring gallery.
You can find out more about the exhibition and Turner Contemporary here.