For this residency Berwick Visual Arts and CRE were interested in proposals from artists that responded to theme ‘Beyond the Rural Idyll’ and questioned what and who is rural, local, authentic or vernacular and that explore rural life and society beyond idyllic representations.
Piotr's artwork explores themes of history, time and memory often within a rural context and he is particularly interested in ageing within rural communities and the stories and memories of older people. His practice is particularly relevant to the themes of this residency, as an ageing rural population is a growing concern in rural areas, with social exclusion and isolation too often being part of growing old for many in the countryside.
During his residency Piotr has spent time with older people in Berwick, listening to stories about life in the town and using this to inform a series of oral history interviews with older people – many who have lived in Berwick all their life.
The resulting series of five short films combine these interviews with archive material from Berwick Record Office and new film footage of Berwick-upon-Tweed and Northumberland shot by the artist, in an attempt to interpret these stories."
Each film focuses on a particular aspect of rural life in Berwick-upon-Tweed, such as the building of walls, farming of cattle and sheep and mussel fishing. A different voice of an elderly resident of Berwick-upon-Tweed features in each film. The dialogue is very natural, not like a scripted reading, nor indeed an interview per se, but more like an extract from a conversation with only one person talking.