Low Carbon Comedy Retreat

I've been whisked away for the week thanks to Metal Culture and Oreet Ashery who have invited me and several other performance artists to Southend on Sea to explore the role of humour in our work. We're spending the week in a lovely four-storey Grade II listed, Georgian building set within the grounds of the well loved and used, Chalkwell Park. Metal's mission was summed up for us as such: 'to give artists the time and space to do what ever the fuck they want to do.' These past two days have proven that this is in fact a completely supportive, interdisciplinary environment built on idealism and with the funding to fuel those noble principles. The building itself, Chalkwell Hall has been renovated to save the earth with wind-turbines buzzing between the chimneys and photovalic tiles on the glass roof; it's also totally wheelchair accessible. We're fed home-cooked meals; on Monday we had a raspberry crumble that was baked by the managing director Colette Bailey. Staff, guests and artists eat side by side with each other, giving it a homely open feeling. I've been granted time and space to explore without the pressure of producing something final, or this can be a period of intense research and production, staying up into the wee hours of the morning making art, if that's what I want it to be; it's entirely up to me. No pressure. All of these comforts and reassurances have been giving me a sense of serenity and calm, yet all the while I know in the back of my mind I've got to be funny.