‘Trespass’ installation

I am taking up space once again – occupying space. My campsite has re-emerged after its tragic loss to (pretend) developers back in November.

This time I am camping in the main gallery, on full public display. The message the tent is trying to get across has evolved, incorporating quotes from Marion Shoard’s (2000) This Land is Our Land and Nick Hayes’ (2022) The Trespassers’ Companion, as well as drawing on the sentiments of the Right to Roam movement and the pressing campaign to reinstate wild camping on Dartmoor.

The installation is aimed at raising questions about access to land, enclosure, ownership, and the role of trespassing in bringing ownership to light. It builds on my previous campsite’s focus on how easily common land is taken from people under a regime of unregulated and hostile capitalistic models of control, and the need to constantly fight for what we have.

It is also an (albeit abstract) engagement with the fate of The Margate School itself – where ownership, capital threatening community, and the liability of common or alternative spaces to disappear or be crushed are all present concerns.

In one open tent, people are encouraged to trespass and use the space. The campsite rules state that must only be used for 1. dreaming of a better world, 2. self-care, 3. building relationships or 4. revolutionary activities. It is full of books and blankets, and warm compared to the freezing temperatures of the School’s building. Hanging above the campsite is a washing line with posters for the Save the Margate School campaign, and… washing.

A second tent, tucked away in the corner, has it’s door open but sewn shut. Inside a person/poppet/some ancient natural spirit made of bound twigs is trapped in an ornate birdcage, creating two barriers between us and it. We are denied access and they are denied escape, and yet just metres away the welcome open, warm tent offers hope.

I am hoping to use the site in a very practical way soon, as a place to hold some short interviews. This maybe to contribute to collecting stories of what The Margate School has done for people, or to collect short stories from visitors (as factual or creative as they like) about Thanet – maybe collecting a new form of island folklore?