Camping Convention


This camping convention was an invitation to 15 people to come and camp at Copse Barn for a weekend in July 2014. The theme for the weekend was “land and its intimate parts”. The event was conceived by Anna Best and Rob La Frenais.



Participants included Simon Bayliss, Lucie Winterson, Anna Lucas, Judith Dean, Hester Schofield, Alex Murdin, Veronica Hudson, Amanda Wallwork, Alexa de Ferranti, Anna Best…

The weekend was conceived as a kind of gathering/symposium/meeting up – a place to show your work, bring topics of conversation, books you recommend, questions you want to ask. A sharing time – only 48 hours long – from Friday evening to Sunday night/Monday morning. The idea was inspired by the Shave International Artists Workshops of the Nineties,  part of the Triangle Artists Workshops network, where 15 artists gathered for a fortnight to make work and share ideas and create a temporary but long reaching autonomous art school of sorts. Time to reflect and ask questions of one’s own and others practice, what matters, what’s needed, what’s wanted…

We didn’t want to over-define what the weekend would be ‘about’ but if there’s a topic I was keen to explore it was to do with the land and it’s intimate parts – being how land can be used by people, how people can be in tune with land (not at all just rural crafts and skills) and asking can we be extravagantly metaphorical here? I am interested in how one could lose the baggage of English Landscape, the view, the picturesque and still include this in art works.#

The weekend included two small fields trips: one to the Architectural Association Campus at Hooke Park – a spectacular human impact in a woodland – and one simply a walk over the SSSI land and woods on site – tuning in to the macro. We were accompanied by a knowledgable conservationist, Rob Beard.

We linked up with ALIAS to seed fund the weekend, but participants were also asked to contribute to the catering and other costs, as well as covering their own travel and bringing camping equipment. Our aim was to make this a simple event, so it could happen again, and be sustainable without the laboriousness of applying for funding.

The schedule of the weekend went as such:


5 onwards arrivals, camp set up

8.30 dinner

short introductions



9.00 breakfast

10.00 presentations

1.00 picnic lunch

2.30 walk on site with botanist Rob Beard

6.00 evening dinner



9-10 breakfast (with moths?)

10.30 presentations

1.00 lunch

2.00 discussion in smaller groups

5 picnic tea



One participant wrote this in their reflection of the weekend:The box full of sleeping moths was a kind of token. Tiny, camouflaged to look like bits of broken twig, the buff tips are silver birch beings, there were 10 or 12 asleep on the egg boxes as well. They arrived under the lure of the trapping bulb, and they were gone the following  night. The moth trap  a metaphor for this gathering, our convention.

The weekend was a constant flow of thought provoking conversation, attentive listening, and generous sharing. Some memories are:

  • Rob la Frenais bringing the activists on his ipad, and a broader international, political and historical context to our situation and conversation.  The winds of change in the the funding landscape.
  • Alex for introducing the question of art and instrumentality, introducing a theoretical context,  including eco-aesthetics and malcolm miles
  • Veronica, the single mark on an african pot in Ghana.  a place  in a wood, by the sea, making art for her woods.
  • Simon’s questions with landscape painting and the ludic tone not pure irony
  • Lucie, John Clare, the 80 mile walk from essex, the derangement he suffered after being disconnected from nature, from his home. Are nature and our home the same thing?
  • Judith, at one point defending Tracy Emin and her confessional work’s affect on previously taboo subjects for art making, the ongoing discussion of strawberry jam as art, freedom and the many potential spaces of art making, mentioning other interesting artists, how we are embedded in representation of representations, art as a free space apart from civilian life of gardening.
  • Amanda picked up on how the negotiation around others agendas is part of the relational work, how the relations are the work, the small transformations. Anna L talking about how everyone and their dog are hosting artists residencies. the purpose is often marketing or consciousness raising , not to learn or get insight from the artist. the artist is employed to cut the grass, not invited to dinner to share ideas.

Some hypothetical proposals:

  • a multi storey car park at the end of the lane (anna B)
  • a vehicle made from wood (judith)
  • artists topiary of rhododendron (simon?)
  • a film by Anna L about the place (anna b)
  • a residency at LHF for  someone (alexa)
  • a wind farm proposal on the top hill, (alex)
  • where we discussed the nature of hay, what is hay exactly? (rob)
  • A sauna, (anna L)
  • next time can we have an art work to revolve around ( a performance by Hamish e.g.) and focus upon…
  • camping in the woods in Autumn (Alex, mushrooms)
  • valuable space for reflection, instigation
  • how to collaborate with hooke park
  • something like a quaker space of silence and speaking from the personal (Lucie)
  • Hester could plan a writing workshop here
  • Veronica has some beds – the next workshop there?
  • Lucie mentioning something at her place, off season.

Some resources that inspired us:


  • The End of History – Fukiyamo
  • Dave Eggers
  • The Future of the Image – Ranciere
  • Synthetic Aesthetics
  • John Clare
  • Attention Restoration Therapy – Robert Ulrich


  • London Fieldworks
  • Helen and Newton Harrison
  • Andrea Zittel – The iNstitute of Living
  • Hito Steyerl
  • Neil White – Bournemouth University
  • Furtherfield