CAAKE Winter Residency – December reflections PART 4 SIMON MILLS


The past year has been, for a variety of reasons, one of the most challenging I’ve experienced, and the first where photography has felt more like a job than a calling. Coming to the end of the year it felt like any creativity I had left was slowly draining away so to be honest I was in two minds about how the CAAKE residency was going to go.



I was both looking forward to it and also feeling it was just one more thing to do before trying to take some time off over the holidays.



But that first walk out the Line with Tara changed everything. I drove up that morning, through a brief snowstorm on the Glenshane Pass and into Derry. We were prepared with warm clothes and waterproofs but even then I wasn’t expecting it to be so exposed and the wind to be so strong along the banks of the Foyle. Rain squalls came and went and we spent nearly two hours walking slowly down the line – taking so much time to stop and look and feel and record that we barely travelled any distance physically.



But just having that freedom to take my time, not have any pressure to produce anything, no deadline other than what our frozen fingers could take and to give ourselves over to the elements was what I had been missing all year.



I took some photos, but drawn to the wild turbulence of the water and the grass and the trees as they were buffeted by the wind, I mostly recorded short video clips, trying to capture the atmosphere as gulls and clouds scudded across the sky.



Our second walk, along with Kerri and the rest of the workshop attendees could not have been more different. A beautiful, calm, still day in wonderful company – many of the attendees were known to each other so it felt more like a walk with friends.



That shared experience continued back at St Augustine’s as the conversations started and we chatted about our findings, our practices and possibilities for future outcomes.



I suddenly realised that I needed this safe space that we talked about creating when planning the workshop as much as the attendees and I am grateful for the unexpected results I’ve experienced from sharing this space and time with Kerri and Tara throughout the residency.