Jodie Saunder’s Plymouth Platform Reflections

joan makes an appearance, R_CUNNINGHAM and J_SAUNDERS, 2020

March’s startling offerings called for a re-imagining of my intended project for Plymouth Art Weekender 2020, as well as a re-shuffling of so much else besides. Supported by Plymouth Platform and my mentor Bram Thomas Arnold, I was some way into a project examining extinction which would culminate in a sound installation in Plymouth’s Libraries.

Re-calibrating my employment and processing the changes brought about by lockdown, meant that my PAW project sat far back in my consciousness awhile. A virtual chat mid-April with the VAP Directors directing my attention back to the potentials of the project and offering some ‘oomph’ and pragmatic encouragement was a welcome invitation to begin to re-frame or revise my project.

From somewhere – I think in part from the absurdity at the forefront through the ever shifting lockdown rules, unknowns and the bending of the familiar – a thought occurred of generating a digital archive restoring the lost works of a female sound pioneer. I distributed her story out to sound artists I was connected to locally through Noise Laboratory and gradually a web of theories, speculations and a curious buzz grew with/between these collaborators. A diagram and three words from her notebooks sent to each contributor was paired with the instruction to generate a sound piece reconstructing her investigations. Communicating with collaborators became key – heightening my sense of how much the approach behind the art is as much the art as the ‘end result’ - this project is in many ways still ongoing.

It therefore gave me an insight into my own preferred ways of working – i.e. collaboratively and where sound is a focal point but is aware of its interconnectivity with other materials.

Full credits to the contributors can be found, along with the sound pieces, podcast, short film and hypotheses here:

Being mentored by artist Bram Thomas Arnold as a Plymouth Platform mentee helped me interrogate my ideas in greater depth and consider how to present and frame the findings. Being part of the Plymouth Platform scheme helped keep momentum when lockdown threatened to thwart my energy and the funding awarded allowed me to create and distribute quality physical artwork from the contributors to accompany the digital content. Having backing from Plymouth Platform and my mentor also chipped away at the ‘imposter syndrome’ – or pushed that sensation to the background. I appreciated the opportunity to lift up subjects to the light which I hand-picked and which I felt were very important and worthy of inspection, and the freedom and trust granted to me to do so.

I very much enjoyed connecting with the other mentees at CAMP Supper Clubs - being privy to the evolution of their projects, their processes and seeing the art mid-way was a beautiful thing. Questions arising in mentoring or at Supper Clubs all fed into the palimpsest of the final presentation and became part of the artwork.