The Mothership


Anna Best (unincorporated collaborations) launched The Mothership in Dorset in March 2016. This started as a social art project, an experiment in autonomy and scale, exploring the relationship between host and guest and the exchange that can occur. This project emerged from the cosmic starry skies of rural loneliness juxtaposed with the contained space of the domestic sphere. It is an invitation for the chance encounter of the urban art world to occur in this most unlikely location, a fairy tale home in a wood in the middle of nowhere. At the heart of the project is an offering of time and space for artists without pressure to produce anything particular.

This opportunity is for artists seeking a rural retreat, with access to farmland, woodland, the west dorset coast, and potentially some collaboration or exchange about practice. Artists are invited to work however they want. Work is selected on the basis of current practice and there are no expectations of a product although an invitation to contribute into our community is extended. Our interest is in supporting the working process of artists whose practice engages with contemporary issues in an experimental, thought provoking and critical manner.

The residencies range in length from a weekend to six weeks and can be scheduled as one period or several visits.

Mothership Artist Residency blog


The Mothership welcomes the following media/approaches

  • audio
  • writing
  • performance
  • moving image
  • socially engaged
  • other


How it works

This residency offers artists the opportunity to work in any way they choose. Past residents have spent the time variously – researching for a film, sleeping and reading, walking research, devising theatre about space travel, painting with ink, performing on the beach at night, internet memes, blue lias clay, mapping local artists studios facilities, a funding application, finishing writing a collection of poems, recording sound, investigating bus service cuts…

Artists have worked in response to the site, the wider location or brought work with them and barely left the studio. They have given talks and screenings in the local town arts centre and contributed to a local peer critique group, run workshops with a handful of nearby children, left paintings behind, sent books to add to the library…. They have taken the time to explore subjects of climate and weather, darkness, a collaboration between mother and son, the casting of a grafftiti-ed railwayman’s shed/bat roost, tapping birch tree sap, mothering and parenting, farming practice.

Residents are invited to contribute back to the place and community in several ways. e.g.

  • open studio event
  • connecting with local individuals or organisations such as the Architectural Association at Hooke Park,  the nearby primary or secondary school, participation in local events – agricultural show, village fete, arts centre
  • skill sharing sessions with the local artists and their families
  • giving a talk about their practice at a Bridport venue with Force8 Collective

Residents are asked to write a post for the Mothership Tumblr blog. This enables a cross-fertilisation between the diverse artists who have been resident at different times.

Anna Best has previously curated a project in the area in 2011 – “Road For The Future”, in which invited artists had self directed residencies over a period of one year. These included Adam Chodzko, Judith Dean, Anna Lucas, Ella Gibbs and Amy Plant. She is currently working with Hester Schofield and others as Force 8 presenting Mothership artist’s talks at Bridport Arts Centre.  Force 8 have previously presented “Mission Space” at West Bay Methodist Chapel summer 2016, a camping convention summer 17 at the Mothership and “Provocation, Performance, Discussion” a symposium event  at Hooke Park November 17.



Residents live and work in a large, purpose-built  ‘eco-studio’; timber frame and straw bales with wood fired heating, kitchenette, and a compost toilet and shower. The studio is located in the same building as Anna’s studio, and next door to a family house. The studio space is one large room, so can house an individual, couple or potentially a family, we have hosted a group of 5.  There is lots of outside space. Children are very welcome.


Free wifi is not provided. Visitors can tether to the local 4G mobile network, via their own smart devices if they choose.


There is also the option of staying in the Buccaneer caravan for your residency. This is a small trailer-type caravan with electricity and a wood burner. Compost toilet, washing and shower facilities are shared with the studio building and the drinking water tap and washing up facilities are outside, ‘camping-style’. The caravan has two small double beds in it and plenty of storage space within the one living space.


The Mothership is in an area that has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty AONB and a Site of Special Scientific Interest SSSI. It is part of a smallholding, located on the edge of ancient woodland, 1 mile from the village of Powerstock (pop. 300 with a primary school and village pub) and 5 miles from the town of Bridport (pop. 14,000 with amenities, 2 theatres and art centre), and 6 miles from the sea (West Bay, Chesil Beach). There are 2 other families on site as well as the studio, a number of animals and pets. Local events/activities/businesses include –  charity fundraisers, agricultural shows, forestry, care work, tourism, fishing, farming, artisan food and drink and art venues dealing mostly with painting and crafts.


The Mothership has been an endeavour in sustainability, so far with no funding applied for and an exchange between artist-host and artist-guest resident for costs of the space. This has enabled the freedom from agenda and for the focus to be on the artists process, on their often speculative research and methods. The relationship between artists being able to spend time in our community and with us has developed through talks and screenings with Force 8 and we will jointly apply for funding for  residency/commissions in the future. Subscribe to our mailing list and we will announce this when the time comes.

Currently there is a fee charged per person towards overheads and costs for staying here. This is £100 per adult per week for the studio, £50 for the caravan.  For stays of less than a week, it’s £30 per adult per night for the studio, £10 for the caravan. BUT please do not let these costs put you off from applying as negotiation is always possible! Past residents have successfully had contributions from the university where they work, and by using crowdfunding strategies.

Upon being accepted, residents are asked to send the total sum to Unincorporated Collaborations via BACs. Details by email. Your dates will then be confirmed. The fees may be substituted by contributing to gardening at £10 per hour. In this case, you will be refunded the funds via cheque at the end of your stay.

All travel, domestic, catering and work production expenses will be borne by the artist.

Firewood is available to buy at cost between October and May.


There is no deadline, apply as soon as possible!

Please send your CV/Bio, a short letter including 1 referee, along with examples of your work.

Questions we would like you to answer in this application are:

  • Why are you interested in coming here?
  • What would you like to work on?
  • What would you like to share with our community?
  • Your ideal dates?

Send your application by email  to anna AT with the subject line to read “Mothership” and please have patience for a response as this may take some time.

Sign up to the mailing list.

Thank you for your interest.


Thanks to:

Tessa Bide for production assistance at unincorporated collaborations.

Delphine Jones Design

The Arts Development Company Culture Plus

Force 8