This website is reflects on an experimental artist residency that took place over a period of six months in a large Early Years Foundation Stage unit in the North West of England. The artist, Christina MacRae, is a researcher at the Education and Social Research Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University. The residency was funded by a small grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s practice-led research stream and it was in many ways conceived of as a provocation that sought to experiment with the role of the artist-in-residence in order to ask questions about artistic practice, and what place this might or might not have in a school.
My practice is located in a collection of objects looked for in second hand shops and flea markets. My interests lie in the flighty and unpredictable process of collection itself. Desires expressed through the treasuring of an object usually escape the decrees of necessity and relevance, freeing things from what Walter Benjamin calls the “bondage of being useful”. This generally runs counter to the more utilitarian cultures of school where children are expected to explain and present coherent narratives about objects.
I saw my role as an artist as necessarily ambiguous and open. I wanted to see what would happen if I set myself up in a complementary rather than partnership role in relation to the teaching staff. My focus was always on the objects themselves; the power they might exert, and what they might show me about the part they play in our lives.