Performance art. Variations on a Weekend Theme by Emma Smith at the old bakery, 78 Akeman Street, Arbury, Cambridge, 27-29 November 2015.
Emma Smith, our first Open House artist in residence, has been collaborating with local communities to develop a new performative artwork, exploring people’s restorative pastimes. She is taking over and transforming the now disused Maskell’s Bakery on Akeman Street for three days. The shop will become an ‘art apothecary’ where visitors are invited to receive remedies for a variety of malaises and situations. While reusing the original bread shelves and glass counter, the shop will be completely redecorated and a few selected works from the Kettle’s Yard collection will be on display.
Drawing on the creator of Kettle’s Yard Jim Ede’s vision for Kettles Yard as a space for relaxation through art and the loan collection he established for students to create such spaces for themselves in their own domestic dwellings, Smith has created a contemporary repository of restorative activities and home remedies. She has collected advice, remedies and recommended actions from residents across North Cambridge on relaxation and feeling restored at home through events supporting people to share their activities. These recommendations have been complied by the artist into a book of restorative acts to be prescribed and gifted to visitors to Variations on a Weekend Theme.
The title for the work Variations on a Weekend Theme comes from an unpublished manuscript written by Jim Ede detailing his thinking and activity in Tangiers when he first conceived of having an ‘open house’ where soldiers could stay, try something new and recuperate. Smith’s compilation of performative acts has also been inspired by The Casebooks Project, currently the focus of research by the Department of the History of Science at the University of Cambridge. The Casebooks are a collection of astrological-based diagnoses from the 17th century by Simon Forman and Richard Napier.
Emma Smith has a social practice that is both research and production based and responds to site-specific issues. She explores the inter-relation between people and place through performance, participation, sound and text. Often collaborating with the public to develop ideas, events and to create participatory experiences, her work is particularly focused on social and collective action. Open House is a long-term creative programme with Kettle’s Yard and communities in North Cambridge funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Cambridge City Council.
Open Friday 27 – Sunday 29 November, 12 – 5pm, free, 78 Akeman Street, Arbury, Cambridge CB4 3HG