The Excursionist conference

Organised by b-side,
Isle of Portland, Dorset, UK
8th – 9th October 2015

On October 8th 2015, I was invited to present an ‘artistic provocation’ at The Excursionist conference on the Isle of Portland in Dorset. As the theme of the conference was art and tourism, I decided to present my curatorial postcard project ‘The Imaginary Museum: Monuments and Landmarks’, which explored co-authorship, audience participation, and tourist culture and imagery. Alongside a spoken presentation, I displayed the range of postcards from artists participating in the project for the delegates to see the work first-hand. The other artist provocations were really entertaining too and it gave me lots of ideas of how I might present my work in future.

The conference ran over two days and was well paced, with performances, presentations, discussions, and excursions. As the organisers, b-side describe on their archive page of the event: “b-side welcomed over 80 delegates to the Isle of Portland for b-side’s second Symposium event provoking debate on current issues. ‘The Excursionist’ explored the growing industry of tourism and its relationship with the arts exploring the impact of tourism on community, environment and economy and the role art and artists can play. ​Delegates enjoyed two days of provocations, presentations, discussions and artistic interventions including a bus trip to Portland’s premier tourist attraction and an unexpected performance in a graveyard.”

I met lots of interesting and friendly people, including b-side organisers, Sandy Kirby and Julie Penfold, artists Alistair Gentry and Katrina Palmer, the co-director of Art Angel, James Lingwood, and long-time Facebook friend and artist/psychogeographer, Phil Smith. I was a bit nervous about presenting my work in front of Alistair in particular as I’d seen his Arty Bollocks Theatre previously, so I hoped that my work wouldn’t fall into that category.

Another unexpected benefit of attending the conference was the opportunity to experience the immersive audio walk ‘The Loss Adjusters’, which was commissioned by Art Angel, and explored a fictional history of the island’s inhabitants, shaped by the surrounding quarries. The pace and range of activities meant that the conference never felt tiring despite the long days, and enabled me to present my work to new audiences, as well as finding out about other organisations and artists.