Cobbing begins!

Kate Edwards kicks off our first week of cobbing, I'm taking it as a good omen that more people than I expected arrived this morning rather than the normal start-of-course dropout experience!

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White sticks mark the spot ...

Well actually the edges of the spots that will become our cob model -as from next week! Very exciting to start seeing the shape laid out on the site and (yellow figures in the background) also lots of student archaeologists right next to our site. As we build up a picture of the future they will be digging down to the past ... At some points we even overlap!

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Solid, solid as a rock!

Our test cob block built in the CAU garden survived the winter rather well ...

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Come Cob with Us

Come and take part in our ambitious mud model project - Tomorrow, Today

Just a quick Friday reminder for any of you who thought about coming to Cambridge to create *cob (!) and let it slip through your in box -
there are still a (very) few places left for booking.
These are in Week 2 (5-9th May) and Week 4 19-23rd of May. Anyone who would like to know more should contact Kirsten (see across in red) our cob co-ordinator via:
cob 'at' - we'd love to have you join us!
As you can see from this picture we have a lot of material to make into cob and a very big flat space to fill with our model. With Karen & Kirsten is the fantastic cob expert Kate Edwards who will be mentoring us and instructing some of the groups over the 6 weeks.
*Cob - a mixture of compressed clay and straw used, esp. in former times, for building walls.

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Karen, Kate and Kirsten on the site for Tomorrow, Today

A job at Abbey Gardens


This excellent opportunity offers the challenge of working with a diversity of people within a newly formed charity. The role involves project managing the administration and funding of the charity, assisting in planning the garden’s programme and co-ordinating the garden’s publicity and communications.

The Project Co-ordinator will be self-employed and contracted for an initial 6 months, which can be extended, subject to funding.

Ideally, the successful candidate will possess some experience in charity administration or running local / community gardens. However, enthusiastic and motivated individuals with related experience will also be seriously considered.

To learn more and find out how to apply, please read the job description here.

Closing dates for applications is 12th April 2014.

For more information about this post, please contact jobs 'at' or visit the Friends of Abbey Gardens website.

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Roman Irrigation Anyone?

Prompted by this news piece today on more discoveries by the archaeology team we've been working with at North West Cambridge I thought I would post a bit more on the process that led us to Tomorrow, Today our big fat cob project we're currently recruiting for!

We have now been have been working as the artists in residence on the new NWC development site for almost a year and it has been a really fascinating chance to work alongside the archaeologists and become involved with the site in a very hands-on way. As we were part of the 'first wave' of artists to be appointed we felt quite keenly that we've been given a unique chance to look back at the history of site, to record its present condition and to try and imagine the future part of the city about to be built.

At the beginning of our residency we joined the team actually digging on site, this was a very muddy, extremely cold week but one we wouldn't have missed for the world! It gave us a chance to think about all these aspects of the project whilst engaged in a very literal way with the physical place. We were completely engaged with the process of the archaeology and caught up by the enthusiasm and expertise that surrounded us on the rather windswept moon-like landscape we were digging. Somehow the archaeologists were able to transport themselves (and us) back in time and really imagine how this part of Cambridge may have previously been 100's of years ago. Meanwhile in spite of lots of fly throughs, models and talks we seemed to be finding it very difficult to imagine what these muddy fields might look like even 5 years into the future.
This experience on the dig in many ways generated both of the projects we're now exploring - Prospection and Tomorrow, Today. Prospection is a proposal for a very long term repeated survey of the new site and tries to 'forward face' the on-going creation of an archive for the place. Tomorrow, Today engages with the present nature of the site, and the current unique archaeological access to the past that been revealed through the dig.
The work will be a large-scale (circa 80m in diameter), outdoor, sculptural model of the future development - which places scale replicas of all the planned streets and buildings right next to the archaeological dig on site. This 'model village of the future' will be hand-built on location using 'cob', a traditional, ecologically-sustainable material made primarily from the earth excavated in situ by the archaeologists. The artwork will remain in place for at least a year, before being buried beneath this new part of Cambridge for future archaeologists to discover!

We're very keen for others to enjoy the experience we've had on the site and so the project offers a unique opportunity to be part of building this sculpture. We are seeking individual members of the public, and formal or informal groups of adults who would like to learn the traditional craft of cob building and to use these skills to help construct the model during its 6-week build, working with the UK's leading cob experts. Each participant will be expected to commit 5 consecutive week days to the project, which will include expert training in cob, in-person guidance from us and hands-on practice creating the model itself. Facilities, tools, parking and refreshments will all be provided.

Participants should be 18 years of age or older, and aware that whilst cob building is a safe and easy-to-learn skill, taking part in the project does require a reasonable degree of physical stamina and is regrettably not suitable for participants with limited mobility.

Interested people and groups are encouraged to register their interest as early as possible - from now until Monday 31st March. Contact cob 'at' for more info.

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The site for Tomorrow, Today a few weeks ago!
Some previous 'cob' material uncovered by the current excavations

The Man Who Would Be King

Best of luck to our former mentee (!) and no. 1 indiegogo backer Jeanie Finlay with her new campaign for ORION: The Man Who Would Be King - it should be a really good film - we've seen some of the work to date!

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Joan James

We were very sad to hear this weekend of the death of Joan James, a great friend to Somewhere and an amazingly vibrant and positive woman. Joan was one of the passengers from East Tilbury at the heart of our first film Bata-ville: We are not afraid of the future.
She worked for almost quarter of a century in the Bata offices from 1947 to 1972 and retained a huge affection for the company and her time there without being sentimental or unrealistic about the changes over time. She put an enormous amount of energy into both the Bata Reminiscence & Resource Center and our project and she features in two of the most moving scenes in the film. The first at the Best shoe factory where she is overwhelmed by the sight of the machines that have replaced all the workers she used to see at East Tilbury and the second in the final few moments of the film, as her reflections on the future close out the documentary.

She said of her work at the center:

"We at The Bata Reminiscence and Resource Centre are not about shoemaking ... we're about the memories of people working at Bata, which is a different matter ... we're about memories, the past and hopefully the future."

She will be missed by Karen and I and certainly all at East Tilbury will miss her energetic and positive prescence. Our condolences go out to all her family and friends.

1 Comment:

Hi Nina, it was lovely to read what you put up about Joan James. She was my sister in-law we were very close even thought she lived in East Tilbury Essex UK and I live in Australia. I will miss the connection with East Tilbury and the people that may still live there when I grew up.
I left in 1963 with Fred ( Joan's brother.

Yours truly,
Yvonne Partridge

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Joan in Bata-ville


Thrilled to announce this project to y'all - we'd love you to join us:

Learn & Practise Self-Build Cob
Cambridge / 5-day courses / April-June

We are seeking keen participants to spend a week learning the ancient & sustainable technique of cob building from the UK's leading experts, and be part of an amazing public art project by artists Karen Guthrie & Nina Pope, creating a 'model village of the future' - a walk-through scale model of the paths, houses & shops planned for the future North West Cambridge Development.

£50 per person / £25 concessions for 5 days including all tools, tuition, splendid lunches & teas
Groups welcome to apply (max. 12), Min. age 18
DEADLINE March 31st
Call Coordinator Kirsten on 07545 218 251 or email

Managed by the Contemporary Art Society with InSite Arts
Commissioned by Cambridge University North West Cambridge Development
Thanks to Cambridge Archaeological Unit

1 Comment:

How did it go? Sorry to have missed it. linda cob in the community

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Welcome to Kirsten!

Pleased to announce we have recruited Kirsten Lavers as Somewhere's Coordinator of our new public art commission 'Tomorrow, Today' to be built at North West Cambridge early this summer.
Kirsten is a Cambridge-based artist who has worked on many socially-engaged and community projects locally. When she turned up on site in her own high-vis jacket we knew she would fit right in :-)

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Kirsten Lavers at NW Cambridge