Frederick Sanders BA (Hons) Fine Art
As artists, we 2021 graduates have endeavoured to innovate and rely on our own creativity in order to seek a fulfilling path through almost half of our entire university experience. In my case, fundamental losses to this experience, such as no physical degree show, have become central focusses in my work.
In the wake of Covid-19, restricted access to physical spaces has pushed us further into the digital realm, blurring the line between the real and the virtual. With this comes a certain groundlessness - an opportunity to reimagine and reshape the structures and systems that exist today.
Far older than Parliament or the monarchy, 'Burgage Rights' is an ancient British law, harking back to a time when land was wild and used in common. In the case of the Northumbrian village of Alnmouth, it still gives villagers the right to use and care for land in the area, sharing in its produce and putting it back into natural restoration, giving to local charities and organising events.
Perhaps those ancient ideas could find a far wider use today.
Burgage orbits around three pivotal concerns: sharing, space, and art. We do not see ourselves as one singular entity. Instead, we are more of a network - a rhizome of ideas and resource sharing, never static, always responding to our current situation and catalysing the imagination in whatever way we see fit.
In our first form, we are a web-based multiplayer virtual world. The space simulates the area of Alnmouth by using data from Google Maps and NASA. On May 1, we invited locals, artists, friends and family to gather in and discuss that world together - an exploration of the potential application of the Burgage system to creative contexts. You can access that virtual space through the website below and watch clips from the May Day event as well.
Looking ahead, 'Burgage' hopes to exist in many different forms - always with the aim to promote the principles of shared spaces, common resources, and socially engaged art.