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Photograph: Julian Hughes

Olivia Plender and Patrick Staff: Life In The Woods


Olivia Plender and Patrick Staff created a video work which utilises the film making process as a collective and social activity. Their initial starting point involved bringing a group of participants to live together at a woodland site, as an exercise in communal living, or free school in the forest, involving group discussion and workshops. Borrowing a format from left-wing outdoor education programmes and socialist summer camps started in the early twentieth century, such as the Kibbo Kift, Woodcraft Folk and Forest School Camps, as well as the contemporary Queer Pagan Camp; the aim was to reflect upon the history of folk revivalism, counter culture and the relationship with queer and left wing politics in the British context.

The resulting video, explored whether living experiments such as this have the potential to produce new collectiviness. By providing all participants with camera training and inviting them to take responsibility for filming and representing their time in the wood the final video work became  a collaboration between all the participants, rather than a documentation of the experience. Engaging with the forest site as one of political contestation, the piece examined, in part, how our relationship to nature is mediated by histories, ideologies, stories and myths. Then film was shown in a series of libraries throughout Leicestershire.

The project participants were: Daniel Bower, Red Chidgey, Ade Clarke, William Clarke, Jesse Darling, Richard Dowling, Zia Dowling-Haigh, June Gillert, Amy James, Michael Mertens, Jamie Partridge, Natalie Raven, Hester Reeve, Yerang Seong, Sofia Törnblad.

With additional input from Bob Trubshaw and Michael Mertens

Olivia Plender is an artist based in Berlin, whose work to date has consisted of comic-book publications, performance and installation. Her research-based practise interrogates the ideological framework around the narration of history and more recently, changing attitudes to education and value. 

Patrick Staff is an artist based in London working with video, installation, performance, and publishing. Previous projects have explored the political, physical, and material implications of social spaces, historical alternatives to industrial and late capitalist society, counter-culture and alternative forms of community building. He frequently collaborates with other artists, historians, actors/dancers, and public participants. 

Serena Korda

Serena Korda

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Sally O'Reilly

Sally O'Reilly

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Tris Vonna-Michell

Tris Vonna-Michell

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Loughborough University Arts

Martin Hall Building

Loughborough University

Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK

luarts@lboro.ac.uk

01509 222 881

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