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Westbury Arts Centre – artist-in-residence creates ‘Mud Keeps’

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

Westbury Arts Centre appointed Tendayi Vine as its first artist in residence in February 2023. Raised in Milton Keynes, Tendayi currently teaches at the University of the Arts London and undertook the residency alongside her other work commitments. The residency was facilitated by Pooleyville and Offset Projects.

With the residency now complete, Tendayi reflects on her creation ‘Mudkeeps’, what the residency meant for her as an artist and what new and surprising things she found out about Westbury and Milton Keynes.

The aim of the residency was to create a technology-led artwork that could be showcased at Milton Keynes International Festival 2023 based on an exploration of the heritage and geography of Westbury.

What were your hopes for the residency?

“My plan for the residency was to explore the historical identity of Westbury and the surrounding area, learning about the 'dream' of the new town in post-war England, and speculating on what could be - specifically as landscapes are increasingly interwoven with machines. “

One of your goals was to investigate the visible and invisible architecture of the Westbury site. How did you go about this?

“I found myself thinking of Westbury not as a geographical location but as one part of a wider landscape, or as one layer within a broader story. I was interested in presenting the role of Westbury in the 'story' of Milton Keynes.

“I started 3D scanning Westbury and this led to fascinating results - glitchy images of crumbling facades, GIFs of the armada door, and a pretty spooky visualisation of a portal in the upstairs toilet. In this way what we do and don't see is not just to do with eyes but memory and imagination.

“A paranormal investigator I met as part of the project shared a whole experience of Westbury that I had not thought about. Speculating on how machines read environments and objects was fascinating, and raises ethical questions about the artist as author - and which voices are dominant in our landscapes.

What findings had the most impact on your work and how were these incorporated in the video/website?

“The video I created acts as a non-sequential story of Milton Keynes, including fragments of what we do and don't know and plays with fact and fiction. I also created website which invites the user to dig for treasures, clicking instead of shovelling.”

How did you approach creating your video and website ‘Mudkeeps’

“I chose the title ‘Mudkeeps’ as its open to the interpretation. I hope it means something particular to each person in relation to Milton Keynes.

“The video was made with the support of, an architect, who helped me with specialist programming. 3D scans, text, photography and Ai are all tools used to create the work.”

How could the project impact on future directions for artistic development at Westbury?

“I hope that this work and experience can help inform what role Westbury wants to have within Milton Keynes, and especially how arts and craft could meet emerging tech.

“The history and community at Westbury is very special and has huge value to Milton Keynes - not just as an arts centre - but as a cultural artefact. I think the prospect of exposing the skills/ practices situated at Westbury to technologies such as 3D printing, laser cutting digital programs, and vice versa, is hugely exciting and could lead to real innovation in future craft.

“An area for future development seems to be to look further at what Westbury can authentically give young people. The young people I engaged with are seeking guidance, advice, structure, facilities, and something that will really enrich their experience of the arts.

How do you think the residency may impact on you personally as a creator?

“I am really pleased with the outcome, the video and website look great and capture my intention and have introduced me to a whole new way of working with digital media. I am desperate to improve these skills and explore creative coding,

“My work usually encompasses video, audiovisual, and writing and I was really excited to have the opportunity to engage with other tools such as 3D printing, 3D modelling and 3D/ LiDAR scanning (a tool using lasers to create highly accurate maps). This has been a huge joy and probably the most successful aspect of the residency for me.

“I was very lucky to have wonderful support from almost everyone I met. It has given me valuable time and space to work some things out and has helped bridge a gap between thinking and making.“

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