Home, Presentation at Mältiranta Artcenter, Home
I managed to write the presentation for the arts centre by working on half of it in the UK and then completing the rest here. Still I had to get up early whilst Naoise was asleep in bed to get it done. With no childcare the only time to work on “thinking things” is when he is sleeping.
He slept, and slept and slept and slept so that was helpful.
I made sure that Naoise was in agreement about which slides we showed and anything that I read out from our blog. I did this by reading it too him and asking if he was happy for me to share it with others at the presentation. I was surprised at how willing and agreeable he was. I only wondered if he said yes because he was ok wth that or yes because he wanted to please me.
At many stages during this residency there has been a tendency to disrupt. He did’nt want me to take a photograph of the refugee welcome sign so he place his body in front of it. Over the last few days he has wanted to use the old smart phone to play games rather than to use as a drawing device.
The disruption is an interesting thing. I can only imagine he is rather bored of me taking endless photographs. I don’t think he is against me making political statements about refugees. It is me he is annoyed with. Maybe all this art making has become tiresome to him. He is only 7.
I am not convinced either that I have managed to keep to my original intention of this being a child led residency……but I return to the idea of collaboration. In the collaboration maybe neither is the leader. We are just muddling through this thing, this time together.
He sleeps and sleeps and sleeps. His sleeping pattern has become topsy turvey. I look in the mirror and see more dark lines under my eyes. Ideally I should join him in the big bed in a Naoise and Helen, M(other) and Son love in. A rest. Why don’t I do that? If I did go back to bed then there would not be a record and there is a desire to document as well as to dream.
At the bus stop in Takahuhti a bubbly woman notices me and Naosie talking to each other in English and asks;
I wonder, are you both artists? Its just that my daughter who attends the International School has been talking all week about two artists from the UK who came to visit.
This is a great encounter. I talk with the mother all the way into the city centre. She tells me about how she worked for 4 years in the UK which was where she met her husband who was living in Manchester but was originally from Pakistan. She tells me that she is a midwife and that her daughter takes the bus to school on her own each morning. They moved back to Finland as it is a safe place to live and the social security system and education system is very good. The society is more egalitarian, however more recently it has become harder to find work and you can see signs of poverty in the centre of the city.
We talk about the idea that Tampere is meant to be a bit like Manchester. We both laugh in agreement that apart from the industrial buildings, Tampere is nothing like Manchester at all.
I talk about Brexit and how I feel ashamed. How I see myself as European rather than British. I think about this residency and wonder what bureaucracy artists will face if they want to travel to other countries in the future, if we do indeed exit from the EU. I still keep thinking its all a bad dream and I might wake up and all this ridiculous small minded little island politics would be gone.
There is a man who keeps attempting to join in the conversation but I am not sure what he is saying or if he is being particularly kind. His comments are peculiar, its either something lost in translation or that he does not like what I am talking about. He mentions a beetles song, but I cannot remember which one.
Its a gloriously sunny day. We sit on the bench by the lake a while, where we saw the elderly Finnish women bathing a week ago. Today there is no one, just a park keeper picking up rubbish. Naoise thinks that no one is swimming because the water is a bit choppy.
We help to set up the room in the art centre. Naoise builds a den for the children to play in. He also colours in one of the filter coffee papers that I bought with me. The filter coffee papers make nice little mini dens. I sort out the slide projector. We all collect some extra chairs to place in the room.
Paul a friend of Nicola’s who is studying at the art school in Helsinki turns up for the talk. We have a little bit of time before it begins to chat. He describes Tampere as a town in comparison to Helsinki.
There is a good turn out of parents and children. The arts association supply refreshments, apples, bread, milk, juice, coffee, tea. Its a large room, big enough for playing and presenting a talk. I try to keep the talk to just over half an hour; an introduction about We Are Resident, my own arts practice and then M(other) and Son.
Naoise is so so sweet, he fetches me coffee, he helps with the slides. He sits beside me the whole time. He is a bit embarrassed when I show his drawings. The Sphinx looks great projected big on the wall. I reassure him that its all ok.
Throughout the talk the children play in the den, they play with the bin. The bin becomes the best toy to play with. Its metal and shiny and the lid opens and closes again and again. Some parents have to keep retrieving their children from wondering into the metal work room next door. I notice that after about half an hour the wondering and noise levels go up. It is hard to talk over the sounds of the children playing, but I carry on regardless. I miss out chunks of stuff from the blog, which is a shame as I had wanted to read to them about Naoise socks.
There is time for some discussion at the end. It is hard to begin to talk about the subject of parenting and art. There is some reservation. I think that this is new. They say that they discuss some of the issues that I have talked about with their own families but not outside of the home.
Tentatively there is some talk about how it can be hard to take children into art galleries, but there does not seem to be the same issues around access to childcare. A parent mentions that the birth rate in Finland has been falling drastically. He worries that with less children being born then the country will become a less tolerant place for children to live.
I suggest that if they have enjoyed some of what we have begun to talk about that they could set up a group for artists parents in Tampere. I also mention the leaflet that I am planning to make with Naoise upon our return to the UK. A leaflet or a piece of propaganda about parent/artist residencies. A how to do, or how to go about collaborating with your family in a foreign place….or just somewhere other than home….or at home? What is home? What is family? What is art? What is play? What is collaboration? How can we make art by playing together?
Naoise has got out of bed. I am going to go back to bed with him for a cuddle. The sun is shining on the birch trees outside but I need some more rest so that we can properly enjoy our last day. Resting is just as important as playing.