Artist Residency at Hawkwood: Marie-Louise Flexen
"I felt that time opened up for me. I set myself about six creative tasks a day and still allowed myself time to walk, read, converse with other artists and be in nature. I wanted to show up and be there for my idea each day as things flowed really well, I entered the process holistically without external distractions."
When my residency week arrived I was feeling quite burnt out from juggling family commitments ,freelance projects, performances, teaching and facilitation work. However I was surprised just how quickly I was able to access and harness my creative energy because the environment at Hawkwood is holding, calm, artistic and nourishing. The residency provided me with the opportunity to be fully present with my ideas and give them my full attention without pressure or deadlines. I felt that time opened up for me. I set myself about six creative tasks a day and still allowed myself time to walk, read, converse with other artists and be in nature. I wanted to show up and be there for my idea each day as things flowed really well, I entered the process holistically without external distractions.
My residency focus was to draw creative inspiration and performance ideas from birdwatching and expand my growing love for birds and my concern for their conservation by offering my artistic voice to bring some awareness. I focused on three birds of considerable fame that are in trouble. Nightingale, Swift and Lark while holding an overarching awareness of all the endangered birds in the UK. I took things with me to support the research and creative explorations on my residency. These included, books on birds and birding, a large wicker basket and few dressing up items ,my binoculars, assorted feathers, natural materials, my birding records apps and a playlist of music I had complied with my theme in mind. I did dance and movement studies, tried out text and vocal possibilities, explored narrative concepts and playful characterisations of each bird. These were based on their flight patterns, habitat and decline concerns, I explored how the three birds feature historically in poetry literature and music.
I invited my sister Catherine Morton for an afternoon. Catherine is amazing at creative writing and is an SPLD coach at Oxford University and has worked in arts education with museums and galleries. We looked at narrative possibilities and how to make sense of all my ideas. I was also able to use dance content from my residency the following week for a performance at Gloucester Cathedral with Three Choirs Festival that celebrated the composer Vaughn Williams’ Lark Ascending.
I now care a lot about this project and about its potential and purpose. I left with the confidence to seek out the next stage of creation. I have come away with the outline and a considerable amount of content for a 30 min performance piece of dance / physical theatre. I also want a Q & A with a bird expert. I look forward to the next step and feel positive about my project. I am incredibly grateful for my residency at Hawkwood and I would highly recommend applying to other artists.
Marie – Louise Flexen is a highly creative individual who is passionate about delivering work of outstanding quality within the arts and wellbeing sectors. She offers over 25 years of experience in the expert field of dance and performance, with a specialism in collaboration and combined arts.
She is available for commissions and projects on a rolling basis, as an independent freelancer, working across Gloucestershire, Wiltshire & Oxfordshire.