Droppers (i)(ii) & (iii)

Andy Webster (Artist), Darren Ray (Artist)

Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchExhibition

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Shownat the Old School Room Project Space, Somerset, UK, as recipient of the OSRProjects Lobster Trap Commission 2016.

In1965, Gene Bernofsky, Jo Ann Bernofsky and Clark Richet, graduates of theUniversity of Kansas, desired to live and work together free from thehierarchies and restrictions of mainstream life so moved to a plot of land nearTrinidad, Colorado and built an experimental settlement they later named ‘DropCity.’ Their aim was for the site to be an environmental research centre, acollaborative, communal space for artists, inventors, free-thinkers, andcollectives who wished to celebrate creative experimentation; for people theydescribed as ‘Droppers’.  Bernofsky commented that ‘in the old days it wasthe Gold Rush that had brought people together, but now people come togetherlooking for the true life.’  For the Droppers establishing anon-hierarchical commons, a space for openly sharing ideas, collective living wasseen as the embodiment of this idea of the ‘true life.’  

50years on, do the Droppers thoughts and ideals still have relevance?  What might the idea of the ‘true life’ meantoday?  What potential might this have ininspiring and imagining a common space for new modes of thinking and actingtoday?  Collaborative artist’s AndyWebster and Darren Ray used these questions as the starting point the project‘Droppers.’

The‘Droppers’ foremost creative output was in the form of constructing buildings partlyinspired by the geodesic designs of Buckminster Fuller.  The structureswere not built systematically to any blueprint but provisionally as a kind ofDIY, ad-hoc version of Fuller’s precise architectural method.  Using salvaged materials including car parts,waste ply and timber, the fabrication of the domes were makeshift, improvised,often rough and lashed together, acting a kind of free-form mutation of Fuller. 

Usingphotographic archives Ray & Webster replicated the building of a domefollowing the Dropper’s approach - salvaging materials, improvising the designand working collectively to fabricate and furnish the dome.  A key aim wasto explore how collective building processes can act as a speculative prompt tocritically reconsider the Dropper’s ideas, to specifically to reflect upon whatpossibilities the idea of a ‘true life’ might have today and in reimagining thenear future. They were particularly interested in exploring how such improvisedarchitectural interventions could became settings which produce the conditionsfor creating a common space. 

Dropperswas commissioned to be built inside of the OSR Project Space, an old schoolroom in the village of West Coker, Somerset, UK.  

Thecontext of building a strange folly-like dome structure within a former schoolbuilding was an important aspect of the project.  The artists were interested in thearchitectural intervention and how this could be a playful, eccentric, slightlyabsurd context and platform for discussions, events and workshops in the space.  Ray & Webster were also interested inexploring the significance of re-fabrication, of replicating historical events/ structures. The dome became a social environment for a series of ‘drop in’events, consisting of performances, readings, music and cooking whichpractically explored ideas about collaboration, collectivity andcounter-culture. 

Therewere contributions from artists, writers, poets, musicians including:Counter-culture Disco with Tom Buchanan, Anna Best (reading / action), NeilChapman (Reading / action), Paul Farmer (talk/performance on Counter Culture),Gillian Wylde (Reading / action), Tom Stockley (Performance / Song), JulietWalshe (Music), Nicole White (Reading /action / Song), Stuart Blackmore (Action/ making / song), Simon Lee Dicker (Talk, Soup), Sara Bowler (Talk), AndyWebster (Reading), Maddie Broad (Action / Performance / Song), Darren Ray &Martin Dodridge (Dome building), Clare Thornton (Performance), and KeikenCollective (Readings, Performance, Inside Out Clothing).


Ray& Webster installed the geodesic structure as part of the Weather Station(Part II), B-Side Festival, Portland, UK in 2016.

Agiant inflatable ball becomes the Weather Station, a mobile pavilion for thecollection of images, objects and ideas.  An artist-led response to the changingrelationship we have with landscape and the paradox of being both in and of thenatural world.  Cumulative rather thancollaborative, the structure passes from one artist to the next, gatheringtraces of its journey through the beautiful and broken landscapes of South WestEngland, before returning to it’s plinth for exhibition.  Weather Station (Part II) exhibition willbring together work by artists Laurie Lax, Laura Hopes, Elaine Fisher, JamesHankey, Nicola Kerslake, Phil Smith, Stair/Slide/Space, Jethro Brice, Simon LeeDicker and Alexander Stevenson, and special guests Andy Webster & DarrenRay.  Project partners included b-side(Dorset), Backlane West (Cornwall), Exeter Phoenix (Devon), Hand in Glove(Bristol), Plymouth Art Centre (Devon), and Hestercombe Gallery (Somerset).

There-siting of the geodome was adjacent to projects curated by Simon Lee Dickerincluding works by Laurie Lax, Laura Hopes, Elaine Fisher, James Hankey, NicolaKerslake, Phil Smith, Stair/Slide/Space, Jethro Brice, and Alexander Stevenson. The dome structure was used a setting andspace for discussion, interventions and performances programmed by Simon LeeDicker as part of Weather Station & B-Side, which included artwork by PhilSmith and hosting The Crucible, a forum which brought togethercreative practitioners for a day of art, food and conversation.


Aspart of Camberwell Arts Festival 2019

Wehave been commissioned to build a dome structure on Camberwell Green, London,UK by the Camberwell Arts Festival for their project “The Art of the Party”2019.  

Forthis project the dome structure will be extended to 6 by 4 metres usingsalvaged materials, including palettes and window frames.  The intension of the re-build is to reimagineand reconfigure the construction of geodesic domes using found / upcycledmaterials - allowing the structures to take shape and be configured by thematerials at hand – becoming mutants of earlier ideals because of this process.The earlier domes at Drop City did this and remain interesting because theydidn’t have a definite blueprint, the really did make them with what was athand, and with basic skills!

Aspart of the festival, and to take place within or adjacent to the domestructure we have proposed hosting Re-cycling, Up-cycling, and Resilienceworkshops. The project is inspired by imagining a time in the not too farfuture where oil has run out, mass production has stopped, resources have runout and upcycling isn’t a hobby rather the only option – resilience workshopsinhabit a similar space / time where we may well need to know how to build afire, purify water etc.  The aim is torun some workshops as part of the project – water capture & purification,fire building, foraging in Camberwell, how to build a toilet, how to buildsolar furnaces, wind turbines, making medicine, how to survive, how to dieworkshops. We would also like the dome structure to host ‘staying alive disco’,‘post apocalyptic pop party’, ‘art of the party radio broadcasts’, d.i.yinstrument making and scratch scrap orchestra workshops as part of theprogramme.

Aspart of the festival a series of talks will be hosted in the dome including:

Introductionto The Remakery (40 mins; presentation) – a history of The Remakery, including examples of projectsaccomplished in the past with community and environmental benefit (Dylan Lowe& Mark Ovenden).

Buildinga geodesic dome (40mins; presentation) – presentation by the makers of the dome, its concepts,symbolisms, and relevances to climate resilience (Darren Ray & AndyWebster).

Actionablechanges for making your lifestyle more sustainable (50 mins; paneldiscussion) – touching on the lesser-debated consumer choices in fashion,travel, technology and home, what are the environmental impacts and how everydaydecisions can be taken as climate actions. Panelists: Vicky Smith, EarthChangers ; GeorginaWilson-Powell, PebbleMagazine 

Diversityin Remaking (50mins; panel discussion) – celebrating the multiplicity in ethnicity, gender,culture of remaking in Camberwell, South London and beyond; the challenges andopportunities of being a "different" remaker or remakingentrepreneur; audience open mic elevator pitch followed by feedback frompanelists

Stand-Upfor climate –open mic possibly evening, featuring musicians, comedians, poets, spoken-wordartists, with performances all themed around climate change and resilience; JoeDuggan host

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


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