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Credit Jennie Rawling

A scene from A Date with Doug, a playful puppetry performance by Cornwall based actor and puppeteer Jennie Rawling. Image credit Jennie Rawling

Hyperlocal project shows that “home is where the art is”

A unique snapshot of life in a Cornish boatyard and a novel quest to find love provided the inspiration for Cornish artists to show that ‘home is where the art is’, through a special regional initiative.

A freelance artist and an artist collective from Cornwall have been chosen as part of a small set of playful and innovative small-scale arts commissions through the “Hyperlocal” project.

The scheme saw Arts and Culture, University of Exeter partner with Exeter Phoenix, Kaleider and Exeter Northcott Theatre to encourage freelance artists across Devon and Cornwall to unleash their creativity - using inspiration found only in their homes.

The project offered 10 micro-commissions for artists working with any discipline from illustration to puppetry each receiving £500. In Cornwall, the winning entries came from Jennie Rawling and the ‘Jam Collective with oho-_co’.

Jennie, a puppeteer, actor and writer described her piece as “The Borrowers meets Honey I Shrunk the Kids”.  The short film, called A Date with Doug”, sees a 12cm puppet explore Jennie’s house, scaling giant noticeboards and navigating around prickly houseplants, on their way to a first date.

Jennie said: “This piece came from my desire to reimagine my domestic surroundings as an adventure playground. By playing with scale I could create a whole new perspective on everyday objects. I made a 12cm puppet to explore this world, and Jemima was born. The piece was shot on an iPhone 5S and edited in iMovie. I am a theatre puppeteer so this first foray into filmed puppetry posed both challenges and opportunities, especially puppeteering and operating the camera at the same time.”

Meanwhile, the Jam Collective with oho_co focused their work on life in a boatyard in south East Cornwall: a scene of constant adaptation, and home to a motley crew living across more than 30 vessels.

When a new pay-what-you-feel food-surplus shop opened on-site, members of Jam Collective, a group of artists and craftspeople, began making preserves to share with their neighbours in exchange for food stories. An improvised ‘jam’ of recorded sounds and conversation snippets provides an aural snapshot of this maritime ecology.

Jam Collective comprises Jodie Saunders, a Devon-based sound artist and co-founder of Noise Laboratory; Arthur Hamel, a Cornwall-based shipwright and geoarchaeologist, Carmen Wong/oho_co, a curiously hungry nomad and artist-researcher newly-based in Cornwall, and residents in a little boatyard in Torpoint who contributed to this work.

Carmen Wong who has collaborated with the Jam Collective said: “This micro-commission became a way for us to listen more closely to our unusual home, and engage in different conversations around food with our neighbours: from restoring a Rayburn cooker, gardening and food-redistribution, to cooking at sea, and favourite take-out dishes that are missed in this time of social distancing. These fragments of conversations are what we have captured in Concoctions. We have created a sound piece which offers an aural snapshot of a Cornish boatyard in a time of lockdown.’

The Hyperlocal initiative received more than 200 submissions from artists across Devon and Cornwall with a huge range of artforms represented, spanning dance, film, installation, animation, graphics, jewellery, painting, sculpture, textiles, performance, print-making, photography, story-telling, poetry, music, and song.

From a giant camera made out of a shed to an atmospheric soundscape, to a storytelling podcast to poetry, illustration, and more there’s a whole host of both playful and thought-provoking commissions to view.

Sarah Campbell, Associate Director for Arts and Culture said: Sarah - The project partners were thrilled to receive so many high-quality applications for Hyperlocal. It was definitely a challenge to select just ten, and we are hugely impressed by the resulting submissions.

“The arts are a wonderful medium for exploring life’s highs and lows, and we hope Hyperlocal serves as something of a time capsule for this moment. The commissions are deliberately varied in format, nature and tone, exploring humour and sadness, wonder and anxiety. For audiences, we want Hyperlocal to offer a fun and thoughtful experience and perhaps a new perspective on the domestic environment.”

The commissions are all now available to view on the University of Exeter’s Arts and Culture website:

Date: 1 May 2020

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