Inhabiting – A project by Sian Torrington

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Inhabitance

Inhabitance is a site specific project by Sian Torrington at 83 Kent Terrace, Wellington. It is an experiment with putting together an artist, a space and a locale. Through drawing and sculpture I will be engaging with the space, getting to know it, altering it, being in it. I will be collecting information, materials and snippets of conversation to feed into the work.

Day One

A list of things I need

Tea, soap, towel, chair, paper, pencils, nails, hammer, masking tape, glitter, stereo, headphones, borrow an easel? Charcoal and pastels, wallpaper, big paper, roll of paper, drawing board, music

List of what is here

Leaning cables, grooves in walls, condemned windows, ceilings like leaves, blunt drips, droopy weeds, a yellow peg, a pink pen, Ferns in drains, a hallway under stair cupboard filled at the back with flat rectangular boxes, empty, a silver duct tape window triangle, lines of wires, lines of washing rope, lines leading to a plug in air.

There is a huge plant growing on the outside of the building. The vines are as thick as my arm, they grow straight up beside the pipes, bending around the window. Vines cover the windows too, reaching across the panel and I know from inside that they are growing around the panes, through the gaps and into the inside. A man recently grew a pear seedling in his belly – it was in the paper. One window is completely covered. I wonder how it is inside; it must be green and dark.  Mossy and earthy. Perhaps it feels like a treehouse.

Today I have been noticing the water tank. It’s outside but collecting what is needed for inside. Water is prevented from coming in, rotting seeping entering, but is stored and drained in carefully. It’s a holder, full.

Day Two

There is something about extending things – what is already there. I find out that this building was made in 1936. The women were outside yesterday yelling up to each other, it seems there is no way into here unless someone comes down. The primary presence here is the building and the plants which cross its boundaries.

How does nature begin to inhabit a building and how does an artist inhabit a building? When it starts to fall apart there are more handleholds, more ways in. Cracks in the system appear as economies change, things open up, systems of value alter. Someone is better than noone in a building. Or are they? This building is owned by Transit and it will remain empty until the flyover is built. They hold it until they are ready. What are we waiting for? For more cars? Or just to prevent bolshy tenants and artists filling the building and causing trouble? There was a lot of trouble over the bypass and the buildings paid a hefty price. Either shipped off elsewhere or done up painted so heavy that all character is smothered. I know there is little sentimentality for buildings which are one up one down, who can live like that now? Some of these buildings are at Brittons now, I’ve been to see them and there is one I remember particularly. All one long room with a corridor down the side, it had stayed in one family and there were layers of fifties lino in strips down the corridor. I wanted to cut pieces of it up but it still felt like someone owned it. Who owns this building?

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83 Kent Terrace

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83 Kent Terrace, Wellington. An ancient old apartment, or so it feels because everything is falling apart. In fact only built in 1936 but already wallpaper peels like leaves, red carpet lifts and creeps up the wall while ivy clings to the outside, pushing its way in through cracks in windows, making itself at home.

I will be making site specific drawing and sculpture in and about this place. There is a door I don’t want to open because behind it feels frozen dead air. This will be an experiment between artist and building, between maker and nature.  

“If you want to destroy a barn,’ a farmer once told me, ‘cut an eighteen-inch-square hole in the roof. Then stand back”

-Architect Chris Riddle, Amherst, Massachusetts