Background to the collaboration
Paul Huxter(Pogol), Sailor, Neighbour, Eel Grass Man
When Matsuko and I first moved to Leigh on sea in 2002 it was a town with a direct elevator to heaven, full of older people and nursing homes, shoe shops had hand written price signs and some of the shops sold useful things. That was all before the town regenerated, which acts like an surgical procedure to remove the freeness inherent in desolation, dilapidation and decay.
I had always been passionate about boats and the River Thames having lived/worked by it most of my life. The Thames is also where Matsuko and I had our first holidays together. Ariving in Leigh-on-sea was a pretty depressing time for YoHa in 2002, my dad was ill with cancer, we couldn’t really afford London any-more and had landed in Essex to set up Mediashed, a free media space.
I bumped into my neighbour Paul Huxter and asked if he knew where I could get a boat and he sorted me out with one and membership of the Belton Way Small Craft Club. Over the years he has been a constant inspiration to many who have joined the project.(he sold me the old GafferLady B) Paul has taken many people out into the Estuary at low tide to show them the joys of mud walking
Nicola Triscott introducing Steve Kurtz - Tap Southend on sea
YoHa and Critical Art Ensemble have collaborated a few times over 20 or so years, starting with a free-paper called Underground that Matthew Fuller, Steve Edgell, and Harwood used to run out of London. Critical Art Ensemble produced the back page for us called 'Useless Technology' CAE and CAE also produced some work for Natural Selection for Mongrel. CAE's Dorian Burr supported us when Matsuko was having IVF. We had a plan to keep a frozen eggs alive on line as long as someone paid but we did not have enough to play with. So we had a good working relationship and thought a lot of each other. When Hope Kurtz died in 2004 and Steve Kurtz had all the trouble with being arrested, Arts Catalyst organised to raise fund for Steve to fight his corner, around that time YoHa lost touch a bit with CAE.
We re-established contact 3 years ago and decided to try and work together through our mutual friends at Arts Catalyst. In 2013 we invited CAE to come and take a trip up the Thames Estuary in an old fishing boat with a retired fisherman Andy to see Dubai Internationals new Thames Gateway and hold a work shop with local people to look at how art could be employed in the Thames estuary.
The Thames is a complex collection of objects, atmospheres and flows that cannot readily be reduced to scientific methods and models. Local thinking is abundant if not always precise and a general air of scepticism runs with the tide.(Check out the context for more background) Talking to everyone at the Mouth of the Thames in 2013, we drew up a few sketchy ideas and then failed to find any money until this 2015.
While we searched for money to make projects Arts Catalyst funded us to do some workshops to Smoke and Eat the flowers of the Thames at the Leigh-on-sea Maritime Festival and do some citizen science workshops 2014
Fran Gallardo decided to come and work with YoHa last year as part of his PhD and became the best house guest we ever had. He bought a boat, taught us about food and now lives in Leigh-on-sea while the projects are on. Fran has been a big influence on how the activities of Wrecked have shaped up and without him not much could have progressed.
Andy Freeman is an old Autonomous Astronaut and a friend who I worked with at Artec (the London Art and Technology Centre) running courses fro long term unemployed and the birth place of Mongrel. He has a deep knowledge of code and is very good at workshops with general public. (He is a also a member of the local Two Tree Island Model Aircraft Club) Andy and I are also colleagues from Goldsmiths, University of London where we both teach.
Stuart Mchardy is a furniture designer, maker in Wales and is family to Matsuko and myself. He will be routing the boat - check out Cutting the Boat
This collaboration would be impossible without all the work of Matsuko Yokokoji and Claudia Lastra coordinating the rest of us, managing. Matsuko appears in few pictures because she is behind the camera making budgets, doing graphics and all the invisible work of washing the muddy cloths, washing up dinners, transporting people around.