vert institute

Vert Institute
for art events and writing

Kay Syrad & Chris Drury

Chris Drury, from Medicine Wheel (1983)

Vert Institute, established in 2015, operates from our house and studio on the edge of a forest in East Sussex. The aim of the Institute is to offer unusual and stimulating art and writing events and workshops based on the creative ideas and experience of Kay Syrad and world-renowned land artist Chris Drury. Clare Whistler joined Vert Institute in 2018.

Events and workshops are offered at intervals, always with a basis in ideas about, and embodied experience of, the dynamic relationships between inside|outside, nature|culture, and microcosm | macrocosm. The programme may include walks and opportunities for making work outside, small exhibitions, talks and performances.

past workshops 2018

Material language: visual and tactile writing
Kay Syrad & Clare Whistler

Words have shapes, sounds, rhythm; to speak we must use complex interactions of our breath, tongue, lips. Words in the mouth or on the page have ‘weight’ and other physical properties; they only exist in relation to a material environment. This workshop will introduce some exercises intended to bring awareness to our sense-experience of language, and use examples from concrete poetry and other visual or tactile forms of writing to inspire your own ‘material language.’

Water Writing
Kay Syrad & Clare Whistler

This workshop will take place during the Hailsham exhibition for WATERWEEK, an annual series of events devised to draw attention to water issues in our environment. Performance and artworks in the water-gallery will become the inspiration for free or focused writing.

Clare Whistler, wall writing, 2015

Eco-Poetics – an introductory writing workshop
in partnership with ONCA

at ONCA Gallery, Brighton

This workshop is the first in a series that will explore how we can address our complex relationship with the natural world through poetry and prose-poetry. We will begin with a brief survey of recent and contemporary eco-poetics, which we define broadly here as a concern with the relationship between language and our perceptions of nature at a time when eco-systems are deeply threatened by human actions. We will then investigate ways of gathering material and experience for our writing, and do some writing!

Vert Institute at Dartington 2018

In May 2018, Kay and Chris led a 5-day residential course, Context and Form in Art and Writing, at Dartington Hall, Devon for the ecological art and research organisation, The course drew on Kay’s experience with poetic forms and Chris’s practice of working with form, including whirlpool and vortex, fractal and wave patterns, exploring how aesthetic forms have the universal enfolded within them but are at the same time particular to individual experience. Participants were invited to investigate how form develops in relation to an ecological context that is local, global and seasonal. The programme days involved immersion in the landscape: walking, collecting, making; reflecting and working inside, with short lectures, shared conversation and discussion, individual tuition, and studio time exploring visual and/or written forms.

programme 2015

The 2015 Vert programme began with an experimental writing workshop Reverie and Transparency, led by Kay and designed to encourage free, clear writing by drawing on a study of ritual in creative practice by visual anthropologist, Amanda Ravetz, and the work of Swiss/Latin American artist Mira Schendel.

Next was Winter VERT: Making a journal, a course that ran fortnightly from November to March. Using examples from both writers and artists, this course explored the ritual practice of making a journal, which could have been anything from writing haiku at 5pm each weekday to gathering an object every day or week and finding a form in which to present those objects.

Left: Journal of walks, Patrick Crawford, 2016. Right: Sewing Winter’s Field Day, Louise Creasey, 2016

The Vert journal course was remarkable. Always interesting, and held in such a way to help each of us, to think, feel, inquire, change, question and produce meaningful work. Work that was both finished and unfinished, inspiring us on to something new whilst appreciating what we had each achieved.

…an incredible life affirming experience.

The course represented excellent value for money. I felt privileged being with such talented hosts, and very aware of their generosity and interest in everyone’s projects.