With our arrival in St Ives now only 2 weeks away, I've been turning my thoughts from logistics to what my own particular interests are, & trying to articulate them out from the percolation stage to something more concrete.
Rather than a fixed concept to explore, I am more interested in approaching the fortnight from a 'daily practice' perspective, being open to different ideas of traces, tracking these through daily attention to engage with what's going on both in terms of the town & what fellow collaborators are doing, bringing my findings into the installation spaces & threading them through whatever else is going on.
That said, there are aspects of trace which draw me, revolving around absence-presence, emergence-erasure:
The relationship between presence & absence is strong in the historical elements of St Ives - the regular indentations in walls where a wooden beam would have anchored to press a barrel of pilchards, the hooked stones that would have hung on the beam & pressed the lid in this process visible in many place around town. Or the communal courtyards where the fish were once baulked - with central drains & specially placed cobbles which would have drained the liquids & especially oils from the pilchard baulks (the oil used as lamp fuel, often exported to London as well as being used locally).
These courtyards also highlight another absence - in St Ives the historical activity of the men is still traced through the current fishing industry, whereas the historical work of the women of the town - the baulking & packing of the fish, the creation of nets, is evoked through these spaces now repurposed for other things.
Language traces: obviously the traces of Cornish - in place names, street names (a favourite being Wheal Dream - an evocative name where the Wheal more practically denotes a tin mine, once where the Museum now stands); but also language usages that trace unusual differences: in St Ives, 'cellar' & 'loft' denote usage of spaces, rather than necessarily their spatial layout: a loft is a space for maintaining nets, & is as often below a 'cellar', which is a space where materials - usually originally the pilchards - are stored.
As the above suggests, architecture tracings abound in the town, from the buildings in the old town whose floors accumulate vertically but may also move off crabwise to the side, so that a room from house 'A' may form the top floor of house 'B'; or to take another example from the Porthmeor Studios, a wall revealed in the recent renovation of the building shows evidence of 2 previous roof tops under the current one.
Erasure is also a trace-element that interests me; both the more obvious ability of a natural force like the sea to erase the day's human traces (as well as bring in materials of human presence - plastic fragments, frayed strands of net), & the human activities that erase - for example, photos of Porthmeor from the Island clearly show Porthmeor Studios as a building surviving from an older period amongst newer apartments complexes, & the Tate building (& its somewhat controversial extension) is a presence representing a space which was once a gas-works.
Finally, trace through other senses: touch, taste, smell, & perhaps (as a musician) especially sound - what are the soundmarks of St Ives? What sounds are now absent, erased? What sounds are emerging, soon to be new presences (the drone camera I heard for the first time in St Ives last year, for example).
2 weeks to go - we're looking forward to our time in St Ives, to the people we will meet during our stay, to our workshops, performances, explorations & interactions with this extraordinary town & its people.