Microhabitats // a symposium // 28.3.2014

We’re pleased to announce our next occursus symposium, which will take place on Friday March 28th, 11am – 4pm at Bradley’s Café in the Nichols Building (Shalesmoor, Sheffield).

Places are free but limited. To reserve, please visit our eventbrite page.

(There will be a £5 charge (payable to Bradleys Cafe) on the day for lunch & tea/coffee.)

The symposium will be the first in a series of events and workshops delivered in collaboration with Art in the Park, to build huts, nests and dens at Furnace Park with a view to creating spaces for conversation, story telling, music, poetry and other activities.

Beavers' den
Ph. T.L. Carroll (2006)

Topics of discussion for the day include (but won’t be limited to):

urban scale, huts, sheds, studios, dens, nests, micro environments, children’s spaces, dwelling, secret spaces, retreats, gardens, caravans

Voussoir Cloud by IwamatoScott Photograph by James Diewald  Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/conarcist/3154529939/in/photostream/
Voussoir Cloud by IwamatoScott
Photograph by James Diewald
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/conarcist/3154529939/in/photostream/

Confirmed speakers include:

BRIAN LEWIS (Longbarrow Press)

Refuge / Refuse [or Camping Without Tents]

This paper will explore ideas and practices of the ‘temporary shelter’ (those contingent and ‘unbuilt’ spaces that offer the user limited protection against the external environment: cardboard boxes, rubble bags, wheelie bins), with reference to Heidegger’s essay ‘Building Dwelling Thinking’ (in which he argues that the act of building is a necessary precondition for man’s dwelling).

It will consider depictions of the temporary shelter in contemporary literature (including Peter Reading’s Perduta Gente, a collection of poems focusing on homelessness and dispossession in 1980s Britain), and recount the speaker’s own experiences of rough sleeping in difficult conditions: the thinnest layers of protection set up against the world.

It will also ask whether these unstable, ‘unhomely’ spaces (both of and not of the built environment) are inimical to the groundedness advocated by Heidegger, or if, in fact, the thinness of their skins and their near-invisibility is expressive of a more intimate relationship between the micro and the macro.

We attain to dwelling, so it seems, only by means of building. The latter, building, has the former, dwelling, as its goal. Still, not every building is a dwelling. Bridges and hangars, stadiums and power stations are buildings but not dwellings; railway stations and highways, dams and market halls are built, but they are not dwelling places […] These buildings house man. He inhabits them and yet does not dwell in them, when to dwell means merely that we take shelter in them. Building Dwelling Thinking, Martin Heidegger

LUKE BENNETT (Sheffield Hallam University)

Taking shelter: men in sheds, men in bunkers

This presentation will examine and amplify portions of my 2013 article published in Gender, Place and Culture on the gendered nature of the lure of abandoned nuclear bunkers and the (mostly) male bunker hunters who crave access to them. It will critically examine Joan Smith’s (2001) ‘shed men’ argument, before moving across to consider the socio-technical and traumatic aspects of male bunker-love. The presentation will feature examples of retreat, crisis and attachment enacted by men in abandoned bunkers across the UK, counterposed with similar examples in popular fiction (e.g. Stalker, Take Shelter, Six Feet Under). It will also draw upon the work of Erikson (1964), Bachelard (1969), Jung (O’Donnell 1979), Davies (1994), Mellström (2004) and Virilio (2009) in understanding the bunker siren’s call – showing retreat to these confined spaces as in many instances willed and comforting, thus blurring expected dichotomies between womb and tomb.

Mark Goodwin (poet), in collaboration with Nikki Clayton (photographer) and Brian Lewis (curator)

A poetry reading accompanied by photographs and sound-enhanced poetry entitled Cryptogram of Den

A sequence of poems that explores spaces, emotions, textures, and notions that include

garden, field, story, woodland, den, rurban city-rim, dwelling, civilization, children’s space, nest, loss, miniaturisation …

An accompanying series of Nikki Clayton’s photographs – curated and presented by Brian Lewis (Longbarrow Press)

Richard Bartle (artist)

Richard Bartle will speak about his recent work, Deities at the Bottom of the Garden

Paul Allender (University of Sheffield)

A Hiding Place

This paper will be about ‘Dens, children’s spaces, secret spaces & retreats’. I will describe the hiding place that I, and a friend, had between the ages of 8 and 10 in Neepsend in Sheffield in some detail, and show pictures, and then explore why this particular hiding place was so very important to me at that time and place in my life.

The paper will conclude with a very brief look at some of the theorising of children’s dens and hiding places.

Luisa Golob (Chief Executive, Art in the Park)

A bed sheet, a clothes horse and a torch!

Where do you get your inspiration from? How do you develop ideas or projects?

These are questions I am asked on a regular basis.

My answer is in imagination.

This will be a short talk on how playing as a child, creating new worlds in my back garden and having the freedom to explore has lead me to being a CEO of an arts charity in Sheffield.

The day will conclude with a walk in Furnace Park.

3 thoughts on “Microhabitats // a symposium // 28.3.2014

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