Turner + Whistler

Artist Residency at Hawkwood: Turner + Whistler

Day 1

We start with facts about skin. Skin our largest organ, we shed 40,000 old skin cells every day, form new skin every thirty days, our skin, laid out, would cover 22 square feet. We walk around the Hawkwood site, sit with the spring, embrace the place ready to start. In the studio we lay out old leather seat covers to be 22 square feet and Whistler flattens herself on them. Upholster a body.

Day 2

We read Materials against materiality by Tim Ingold… ‘Like all other creatures, human beings do not exist on the ‘other side’ of materiality but swim in an ocean of materials’. This article would become our main inspiration. We collect sayings – by the skin of your teeth, jump out of your skin… In the studio Turner envelops the artist easel with sheep wool.

‘Why should our bodies end at the skin?’ Donna Haraway.

We walk into Stroud to the book shop and find The Illustrated Woman by poet Helen Mort. After supper we read it aloud together.

Day 3

We find a piece of plastic in an old bonfire, it says ‘un-‘. We place it in the studio alcove where we place remnants from each day. We take material out and up the hill. We work with black thread, white thread, wool and with spaces between stone walls, with elder and ash, and in a green field with black silhouetted trees in the distance. Experimenting but unsure we return to the studio. Skin presents so many options for exploration – identity, race, scars, personal and global histories, ageing, tattoos, moles, eczema. The list is endless. Turner reacts to the philosophy of Tim Ingold, crystallizing the research to ‘skinless’ and a concept of skin, not as a border or container, but a place of permeability, of where materials meet materials. Thrilled we condense our project to be about being ‘skinless’.

‘He steps into cold water and his skin dissolves.’ Helen Mort

We take a walk around the grounds finding the places where we feel the ‘veil is thinnest’ and prepare to visit them all the following day.

Day 4: Hawkwood journey

‘Oh we stream towards these places, Pressing in on the narrow surface, All the waves of our heart.’ Rilke

With material we visit and respond to an oak, a sycamore, a beech, a stone wall and stone road, the orchard and a greenhouse. An intense day of being present, being skinless.

‘Like the living tree in the ground from which it was made, it inhabits the border zone not
between matter and mind but between substance and medium. The wood is alive, or
‘breathes,’ precisely because of the flux of materials across its surface’. Tim Ingold

Photographs and words are collected. In the evening Turner mends the material and Whistler makes poems.

Day 5

A gathering. We present our findings and material. Sustained all week by the wonder of the food, calmness of place, conversations with other residents, the fruition of a Hawkwood project and having time and space to develop our collaborative project ‘Skinless’. Thank you.

Original Blog Entry by Turner + Whistler.

With thanks to the Francis Reckitt Art Trust, DCMS & Arts Council England for their funding that make these residencies possible. Read about our Artist Residency Programme here.


Nicola Turner

Turner works with found objects and organic “dead” materials to create sculptures and installations investigating interconnected ecosystems, both human and non-human.

Clare Whistler

Clare Whistler, a respected interdisciplinary artist, engages in performance, site-specific work, and collaborations spanning poetry, music, and visual art. Her recent publication “Gifts” chronicles a decade-long project centered on objects symbolizing welcoming a new child. Collaborating with communities and embracing the natural world, she aims to inspire creativity and has a rich background in dance and choreography. As a trustee for ProjectArtWorks and ONCA, Clare’s work transcends boundaries to evoke insight and timeless beauty.


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