The Island, the Bench and the Sofa at Home: The archipelago-like network of artists and audiences involved in the exhibition Town Hall Meeting of the Air,2021, and its 2022 tour.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper responds to the conference theme: Experience of the Island-based Creative Practitioner from the slant perspective of an artist and practice-based researcher based in the North-East of England. It explores the potential for temporary forms of collectivity to emerge through hybrid presentations of art. In doing so it will reflect on the author’s experiences of collaborating with Tess Denman-Cleaver on Town Hall Meeting of the Air (2021) and commissioning other artists within the exhibition and its 2022 tour to Margate, Isle of Man and Uist.

Town Hall Meeting of the Air was staged at BALTIC39 in Newcastle upon Tyne June-August 2021. It considers the poetics of civic gathering, and was developed throughout UK lockdowns. The exhibition consisted of an installation of wall-like curtains that created surfaces to host films by other artists, and a circular radio booth which broadcast live events and prerecorded, commissioned content from artists. An island-like sculptural bench in the centre of the exhibition played readings from ‘The Hundreds’, a collection of stories by Liston and Denman-Cleaver, which chart the progress of a group of people who inhabit a newly formed island. In 2022 the artists will tour the bench to locations described as mainland, island and archipelago, commissioning new writing that responds to, and challenges the trope of islands as utopias.

The paper will expose the hybrid forms of audience encounter afforded by the 2021 exhibition; across radio, in person events, Instagram posts and the gallery installation, and the networked relationships between artists commissioned into the 2021 and 2022 project. It will propose that these temporary audience and artistic communities form ‘intimate publics’ (Lauren Berlant, 1997, 1998, 2008) - engaging affectively with a shared set of cultural references. It will reveal how our understanding of such community relations can be illuminated by considering them as archipelagos.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2022
EventIsland Studies International Conference: Creativity, Ingenuity and Practice - University of Islands and Highlands, Shetland, Lerwick, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Jun 202225 Jun 2022


ConferenceIsland Studies International Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

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