In a week’s time I’m looking forward to participating in the Life Friendly artist residency at the Chinese Arts Centre. I’ll be working with and alongside several other artists to explore the themes of what it is to be Life Friendly. In a nutshell, its about having a restorative impact on the world and everything and everyone around you. I don’t really like the term ‘restorative’ but then not sure how else it could be explained. It was quite random the way i got involved in this but it dovetails with quite a bit of my thinking and practice as a creature moving through and being part of the world.
Just over a year and a half ago i went to a seminar on Community Resilience, by Professor Angie Hart, that was organised through work at the time as part of Manchester Beacon. As part of the seminar, Angie encouraged us to do a bit of a self-audit in terms of our own community resilience, it included questions about experiencing nature, having skills that meant you could create your own energy and food, getting regular exercise and sleep, knowing your neighbours, spending time in nature and many more like contributing to local economy, banking with a community bank and so on. I was living in the city centre at the time in a tiny apartment and the self-audit was a rude awakening to how isolating it had been living in the centre of Manchester.
Gradually over that year i started doing a few small things to make changes to how i was living in the city to bring a few of these elements back in, like… getting a veg box delivered from a nearby farm and then cooking local and seasonal food from the vegbox, which led to growing food locally with other city dwellers. Since then I’ve change banks, moved out of the city centre (the lack of green space became unbearable in the end) and joined a community choir, Open Voice. I can’t say its all perfect and rosy (going to bed early… room for improvement!) but i feel like i am in a different place to a year or so ago and its been small changes introduced into everyday life that have made a difference. Its small things, i find that help create a a state of mind and practice that is life friendly.
I am not sure exactly what I’ll be doing for the residency or the form it will take, but i’ll approach it in terms of this idea of making small changes and thinking about the small things that can make a big difference to life feeling more life friendly and how to bring those into play using the existing resource of the Chinese Arts Centre (the people, the place, the space) plus the other artists as the basis for inspiration for an artistic response. The idea is to create situations/ experiences during the residency, that don’t cost anything in terms of money and are driven more by the things that we value in life (in non-monetary sense), in order to stimulate create use/ reuse/ restore/ rebalance, (rather than bringing in new stuff), to make small changes.