Mark Borthwick

Mark was artist in residence on Hawes Side in Blackpool from February 2020 to August 2020.

Not long after Mark moved into Hawes Side, we went into a national lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was an interesting and challenging time to be undertaking a residency in an area where many of the tenants were shielding. Despite these obstacles, and not being able to use his primary form of engagement of live storytelling, Mark found alternative ways to engage, two of his main projects are highlighted below. We also gained some interesting insights into the challenges of isolation in this area.

The Story Line:    In response to the fact that many of his neighbours were shielding and didn’t have access to new technologies, Mark developed an analogue way of communicating with them. He set up a telephone line in which they could ring and hear a different story everyday. 

Participants were also invited to leave a story or a thought to share with their neighbours. This was a way of people who are isolated to hear their neighbours voices. Some collective online story telling sessions were also delivered to help encourage conversation between people shielding who potentially had very little human interaction over lock down.

Do you want to hear a story? Listen to ‘Mullah Meal’ HERE

Hawes Side Garden Project: 

Also in response to conversations with neighbours and positive activity whilst in lockdown, Mark put together planting packs for the residents of Boston Way. The plants were all herbs and he told the story of each plant. 

As well as seeds he provided trowels, pots and compost for those who had no gardening experience. The aim of this project was that once we come out of lock down the plants that have been brought on in houses could be planted into a communal planting area.

Over August and September Mark worked with one of our evaluators from UCLAN to produce a piece of work about his experience of the residency, focussed on the isolation he felt at the house. 

We will use this piece of work with our housing association partners as an insight into the isolation that tenants might be experiencing.