The Shed of Dreams

I have fallen deeply, madly and passionately in love with my little feedback shed.

I do not need or want or have the space for a garden shed in my life and so I will not be keeping it in any long-term way. I also know that if it ever comes home with me, it will instantly become a storage space for old crap and fill up with offensively large spiders which prevent me from ever setting foot in it again. Such a pristine and functioning environment is permanently under threat from sabotage if it is exposed to too much Felix, but it is possible for us to enjoy a nice relationship – a three night stand, if you will – on a very short-term basis. So for three glorious evenings I plan to revel in the glow of its homely yellow lightbulb and enjoy the possibilities for organisation and decoration that an entirely wooden environment affords.

…and it’s just so evocatively shed-like.

Forgive me for stating the obvious but I love the way it smells of wood and pine resins and compost and soil and damp earth and roofing felt and nails. I love the splintery golden fibres of its practical and solid construction. I love its creaking noises, its rickety, broken window frame and the evidence of weather on its timbers. I love the way it references dens and odd collecting habits and childhood playhouses. When I made up the map, for people to tag with their experiences of Magic Hour, I kept thinking of the maps in the Swallows and Amazons books; immensely practical yet also highly imaginative renderings of our understanding of space.

My intentions for the feedback shed are to capture qualities of wonderment, adventure and play and to inspire people to place and save and collect their experiences. I am interested in what causes us to treasure or nurture a moment in time, a sound we hear, a sight we see… the shed is a manifestation of my many questions in this direction. I was so happy with how the first night went; many people left tags on the map. The numbered map pins that I ordered from these wonderful people have the added bonus that I could keep track of how many comments had been left.

As the evening drew on, browsers at the shed became more and more interested in reading what previous commentors had written.

…and the button badges were immensely popular.

I was correct in my prediction that sitting and knitting vegetables and fruit would draw onlookers towards the shed. People are always curious about knitting and once the ice is broken, it’s easy to talk more generally about the show.

I am very excited about the vegetable knitting workshop I’m planning for November, and the Botanic Gardens conservatory where the shed is located is a very inspiring place to be in this regard. So many beautiful colours and textures all around… The Botanic Gardens have been growing a load of tomatoes, chillies and basil in all different varieties over the summer, and people have been coming in to learn about them. This makes for a very sensual environment and it is impossible not to get excited about all those shapes and to imagine them translated into knitted patterns.

Speaking of knitting into vegetables and vegetables into knitting, Liz turned up with a belated and very much appreciated birthday gift for me. This gorgeous skein of handspun biffle was really wonderful to recieve at this time in particular as now, whatever I knit with it will remind me of this project. I don’t know what I will make yet but I am erring towards Jen Shoalwater’s arch-shaped socks, or perhaps some of Liz’s own fingerless mitts pattern.

I like the idea of some ‘greenfingers gloves’ to remind me to nurture and tend to the creative garden in my life: This would be a good personal reminder.I am not sure how easily such ideas re: garden/creativity translate to other people.

The sound-saving, for example, didn’t get the same massive audience participation as the map with its tags. I wonder if this is because the idea is too unfamiliar or because nobody else is as excited as I am about these little glassine envelopes combined with date stamp? I think it is also a very unfamiliar concept to ‘save’ a sound. As the evening drew on, I found myself explaining that my real intention for these envelopes is to get a sense of what sounds people take away with them from an event like magic hour. What impressions stay? What sensory experiences lodge themselves in the imagination for future creativity or wonderment? What do we save from our experiences of events which use sound and light?

Rob Kesseler’s pollen images, projected on the conservatory wall.

Sound/seed packet with ‘saved’ sound of bees.

The feedback = fertiliser equation was more readily understood and the COM(MENTS)POST BOX sparked some good conversations with other people about the importance of feedback.

Feedback from the outside really helps artists to bridge the gap between the intentions for the work and the audiences’ experience of the work. Navigating that boundary is key to making work that functions as intended: it is the point of the shed and I hope it is working.

Thanks everyone for helping with the feedback; it only works because of you!

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