Nexus 2016 Numphra Downs


The aim of Nexus 2016 was to create a temporary community through sharing of creative practice and outdoor living for a week. We wanted to create an exchange not based on profit but on sharing creative skills, time and an outdoor space. Numphra Downs, a 14 acre site generating wild land, outside of St Just on West Penwith (UK), owned by Frances Rippon was generously donated to us as a base. St Just Town Council and the Carew Pole Trust also generously supported the project. We wanted to explore how trained and untrained artists can create in an equal exchange, all being artistic agents. And blur the border between life practices and art practices.  And experiment how non human life can be met on equal footing.

A total of 10 artists attended the retreat, 4 being local to the St. Just area. Artists collaborated and shared their creative practice daily through experiments and conversation.

The participating artists ran 9 free creative workshops with 64 community participants of all ages participating over the course of the week.

On the last evening there was an open gathering celebrating the site, community, and work achieved over the course of the week. Over 30 people from the local area came to celebrate with us that evening, many of whom had not visited Numphra Downs before. Another aim of the project was reintroducing Numphra Downs to the community as a site offering a regular programme of creative events.

Creative work that emerged was ephemeral in nature and the process of sharing ideas was an integral part. A main outcome was an environment with a high level of acceptance where participants found a sense of regeneration. The project has allowed Shared Ground as an organisation to develop a concept for bringing a local community together with artists on a specific location and connect through creative practice, which we will refine through further iterations.

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Comment from Francis Rippon, land owner and project developer of Numphra Downs

I spent the last evening of the project at the land and I was amazed at the transformation in the people there. I saw them all on Sunday [the first day] and then have been at work this week so have not been able to be very much involved. The connections with each other and with the place are palpable and I feel so happy that this magic and love has been brought to and developed through the land.

Comment from Charlie Rawson, participating artist

I made a habit of smelling the ground, the soil-iness of the surface beneath our feet. It smelt dense and vibrant, rooted and reaching. Perhaps I’ll bring this back to the city for the earth that remains uncovered. 

I’ve just met the most wonderful lady on the train [on the way back] – with sparkly eyes and a great interest in the world. She carries a great lightness of life and change, patience and a big dollop of cheekiness. 

I am able to see this all the more for my time at Nexus. Our presence together was both grounding and elevating, letting me hear and feel and see the magic in my every moment more clearly again. 

Comment from Isaac Acheampong, participating artist

Thank you for accepting me into the project, where I have felt a deep sense of acceptance by others.