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We spoke to the artist behind The Caretakers Project, Eloise Moody, about the project.

1. Tell us about how you came up with the idea for this project?

I wanted to spend time with the only people with access to museum and gallery treasures during lockdown – the security and buildings teams. I’m interested in the museum staff who don’t often get asked about the collections, yet who know them well and in different ways. I really wanted to question the idea of what sort of information is valued within the arts. We all understand that facts and academic interpretation is accepted- but what about other perspectives? Could they not offer vital routes into how we think about objects and spaces?

2. Have there been unexpected outcomes?

I thought this project would be many things but I did not expect there to be so many moments of beauty. To spend time with any of the Caretakers is to share something exceptional. It’s important to remember that everyone had to make their own recordings due to lockdown restrictions. It’s been an interesting process setting people off to record themselves talking at length in empty spaces- it tends to get very reflective – which is what I wanted but it’s also very intimate. It’s not just what they say, but also hearing them think, sigh and notice things they perhaps hadn’t noticed before. There is a lovely sense of being perched on their shoulder.

 3. Do you have a favourite moment in the recording of Steve?

Steve’s piece is beautiful in many ways. When I met him via Zoom I found him thoughtful, eloquent, and an interesting mix of creative and very practical.  There were perfect expressions of this mix (which I will let listeners discover). In a space where Steve is often looking for problems to solve, it felt important to leave him sitting in a very comfortable chair, thinking about doing some drawing at the end of the piece.

I also love when you glimpse a moment of laughter bubble up. How often do you make yourself laugh on you own? Steve makes a funny joke when he’s tinkling the piano keys and you can hear how what he has said has tickled him. Every time I hear it, I laugh. And it makes me think of how seldom laughter is part of how we interact with culture.

Kettle’s Yard House
Kettle’s Yard House

4. Do you know Kettle’s Yard? Does this make you see it differently?

I love Kettle’s Yard! So working with them on this project has been very special. It’s been a pleasure to spend time there through Steve’s recordings. He gently furnished the space with sound – floorboards creaking as he walked and the sounds of him sitting in chairs for the first time.  I have listened to Steve’s recordings time and time again in the edit so I now know the space with my ears in a way that I don’t with my eyes and probably never will.

Helen Ede’s sitting room

5. What next?

Something really valuable happened with The Caretakers, so I am working with Metal to think about what happens next.

I am also working on an installation at The London Wetland Centre about tracing human migration via the routes of the visiting birds.

Visit Eloise Moody’s website here

Part 3: Steve, Kettle’s Yard

Find out more about the project and listen to the other five recordings here.