Sharing Little Sparta

2017 Residency Programme

Gerry Loose, Martin Parker and Sarah Tripp.

Gerry Loose (born 1948) is interested in the key role Sue Finlay played in the development of Little Sparta and has stated that ‘(her) plants are crucial to place and poem, informed by both.’ During his residency he will explore Sue’s approach to planting in the garden and consider the ways this was done in relation to both the reality of the landscape itself and to the essential interplay between the plants, poems and the site. Gerry will refer to documentation in the library at Little Sparta and to archival material held in Edinburgh, focusing upon the ideas that informed this collaborative project and led to the creation of what he describes as ‘Scotland’s ultimate site specific artwork as a whole; neither plant more poem may be removed from place without irreparable damage to that whole; a syntax of landscape not met elsewhere.’

Gerry Loose lives on the Isle of Bute. He is a poet, editor and gardener and has been poet-in-residence at the Botanic Gardens, Glasgow, and at the Jardin des Plantes, Montpellier. His poetry is informed by his extensive knowledge of agriculture, horticulture and his experience of designing and making gardens; he has written that ‘My poetry is as likely to appear in these (and ungardened landscapes) as on the page.’

Principal publications include: The Elementary Particles (Taranis Books, 1993), Tongues of Stone (Mariscat Press, 1998), Eitgal (Mariscat Press, 2001) Printed on Water: new and selected poems (Shearsman Books, 2007), Ten Seasons (SPL & Luath, 2007), the deer path to my door (Oystercatcher, 2009), that person himself (Shearsman Books, 2009), Fault Line (Vagabond Poets, 2014) and An Oakwoods Almanac (Shearsman Books, 2015).

Martin Parker is a sound artist and composer based in Edinburgh. His interest in Little Sparta revolves around the idea of cultivation and the parallels between the practices of a gardener and a musician. The gardener works with nature by controlling it and thereby encouraging it to be itself. Musicians work in a similar domain where the wild and the practiced make a necessary partnership.

Parker’s work at Little Sparta will begin with the development of a series of short film loops: ‘Images of organic matter, gently activated by wind, rain and heat (will be) accompanied by entirely synthesised sound that is shaped by the small movements we see. In doing this I expect a poetic resonance to emerge between two seemingly opposing words.’ These works will be shared via social media and, ultimately, will occupy a dedicated website where visitors can pause and resume the films to create a unique audiovisual pattern. The final stage of this project, beyond the residency itself, will take the form of a sound installation where visitors can freely arrange different kinds of loudspeakers with different sounds growing within them. The careful arrangement and shaping of a landscape of speakers is analogous to Finlay’s work in creating and cultivating his garden and Parker has stated that ‘I regard the deep knowledge that is embedded in computing technology and expressed in digital art as making a powerful connection with the references to human history and knowledge that Finlay’s garden reveals.’

A composer, improviser and soloist with laptop, Parker’s work focuses on encounters between computers, people and places. Based in Edinburgh, he has performed and collaborated internationally with theatre companies, symphony orchestras, visual artists and ensembles; recent projects include ‘Songs for an airless room’, an ‘opera’ for cinemas performed by Joby Burgess and Phil Minton. Martin has been Artistic Director of Edinburgh’s Dialogues Festival for over 10 years and is one third of free improvisation trio Lapslap. He is Academic Director of the University of Edinburgh’s MSc in Sound Design.

Sarah Tripp is a visual artist based in Glasgow. During her residency Sarah Tripp will focus upon Finlay’s desire to maintain the garden as an artwork by caring for its temporal as well as its spatial boundaries: the Little Sparta Trust preserves this by opening the garden to visitors between June and September only, when the plants and trees are flourishing and in full leaf. In this way, Tripp will approach Little Sparta ‘as a work composed from poetry and framed by a narrative of seasonal changes.’ She will draw upon Finlay’s library at Little Sparta, and archives held elsewhere in Scotland, to explore the potential for events – created and delivered by herself and other artists –  synchronised to the opening and closing of the garden.

Sarah’s artworks have taken multiple forms including: publications, solo performances, public events and films. Often they take more than one form simultaneously or evolve through a number of forms moving from text to public event to film. She writes highly compressed prose works intentionally keeping dénouement suspended in order to invite a reader to imagine, and reimagine, endings. Customs, gestures and moods are reoccurring themes in her artworks which draw from literature and psychoanalysis. Tripp often uses an eclectic mix of materials and sources, seeking out people to interview and undertaking in-depth research.

Sarah completed a BA in Fine Art at The Glasgow School of Art in 1994 and an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art in 1996 before returning to Glasgow to practice as an artist, writer and curator, and join the committee of the Transmission Gallery. In 2016 she completed her practice-led PhD at Edinburgh University in writing character studies using a cyclical, reflective methodology. Recent projects include: Selected recent projects include: ‘Making People Up’, Artists Moving Image Festival 2016, LUX Scotland, Tramway (Glasgow); ’Listening to Strangers’, Eavesdropper, CCA (Glasgow), 2015; ‘Dr Sinclair’s Drawer’, Flat Time House (London) and Book Works (London) 2014; ‘You Are of Vital Importance to the Art Community, CCA (Glasgow) and Book Works (London), 2014; ‘24 Stops’, Camden Arts Centre (London) with UCLH Arts, 2013 and ‘Adaptation’, Collective (Edinburgh), 2012. She is currently developing a new work of fiction with Book Works (London) and a collaborative publication of lectures with Dr Kate Briggs (Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam) exploring forms as they appear in writing.