Artist in Residence for Courtenay Street

At the end of June 2018 I left Courtenay Street and my Artist in Residence in My Own Street came to an end. Below is my first introduction to the project

This video shows the final showing

Artist in Residence in My Own Street from Deborah Mason on Vimeo.

You can find out more about all the work here.

Throughout 2015 I looked at adverts for Artist in Residence schemes. I even applied for a few. Most of them were in schools and the briefs seemed to make the artist themselves the focus of the project. They would work with the pupils/people involved in the project and in some cases make work as well but it definitely felt like the project was about the artist not the residence. I thought about where it would be fun to be an artist in residence, but then I thought about what it would be like to be an artist in residence in just an ordinary suburban road, something like the one I grew up on in Maidenhead. Originally a new build Wimpey homes estate, all the houses roughly the same, with similar families with young children living in them with the occasional retired couple. People going off each day to commute to work. And I figured out in my head how much funding I’d need to do something like that, to be actually resident, whilst I worked as an artist. And I wondered if anyone would fund me for what might seem a rather ‘boring’ project – I mean it’s not like being imbedded in a fighting unit in a war zone, or in a refugee camp. And of course then I realised that I actually live in a street, admittedly not suburban, but still not artistically special or extraordinary. But I am more interested in that ordinary that turns out to be extraordinary. I know some of my neighbours, but none of them well, some I probably have never spoken to. Who knows what stories and lives are in the streets on which we live?

How often as artists do we either look to our immediate experience, or to a far distant exotic or strange world for inspiration and ignore that liminal edge between us and the wider world, our home neighbourhood, our own doorstep?

So that is what I decided to explore in this project. At the beginning of January I put this flyer through every door on Courtenay Street. Although the numbering of the street goes up to 88 it turns out there are only 77 dwellings. Two of those are officially in Courtenay Square but have their doors on Courtenay Street – so I included them. The flyer invited my neighbours to join me in my experiment and asked only that they give a little time to talk to me about their experiences of living in Courtenay Street/Kennington/South East London and if they wanted to, we could also discuss what other things an artist in residence might do. I was quite nervous for some reason when I delivered my envelopes into the various letterboxes, I wondered about the response, I wondered if I’d get a response at all!

I will be updating this page with links to future blog posts and galleries of work as the project continues.


Collage Gallery here

Shadow Street sketches here

The Shadow Street – a story here


Introduction: An Experiment at Home

The Shadow Street

artist in residence flyer1

A Pick and Choose History of Courtenay Street, Kennington & Lambeth