“2 Penrhiw : afterwords

The residency at 2 Penrhiw was a real chance to dive into practice. Choosing to work either in the house itself or outdoors in the surrounding area. It was a week filled with brewing creative ideas. It allowed me time to consider doing less. It allowed me time to reduce and distil and strips things down to their essence. I became interested in efficiency. What is the minimum you can give an audience to frame their experience? My tendency has always been to give too much, fill things too densely without joining the dots. This residency felt timely in the sense that it allowed me to mature, to find a greater trust in other people, in the work and in myself. I discovered that if I notice something and find it interesting then the likelihood is that (some) other people will too. I don’t need to tell people again and again, I don’t need to hammer the point home, because if I do I deny them the feeling of discovery, which is a huge part of the experience.

I felt my time at 2 Penrhiw pursued several threads and just one of these was enough for the Sunday sharing. I felt like the thing I chose to share was very specific to the site I chose to work with. I had chosen to work with a conifer tree that was still standing where many others had fallen. Simon told me that they had taken out a few big trees to let the others grow and then in the storms many of them collapsed because of their shallow root systems. There was one still standing. Everyday of my residency I went to climb this tree, each day I would climb a little higher. I did not want it to be a circus act but maybe a gentle spectacle, a moment of surprise. Something unusual, but without a drum roll.

On the last day of my residency I made people pine needle tea, showed them a small video in the house, we then walked to the sound of a shrooti box drone, the ended with an image of me high up in the tree. Gently swaying in the breeze. It was a simple and minimal sharing, but one person who came described it as a haiku which felt like a huge compliment.

The power of this residency was the time and space that it allowed me to consider specific ideas but also my practice more broadly. I learned a lot in a short space of time. I have come away hoping that I can hold onto the spaciousness of Abercych, the comfort and warmth of 2 Penrhiw and the generosity, hospitality and playfulness of Simon, Stirling, Nora and Beti. It was a special time that I will cherish for a very long time.”

Neil Callaghan