summer pools: arts & spatial practice programme

summer pools: arts & spatial practice programme
Image by Eloise Maltby Maland
summer pools is an arts and spatial practice summer school working with situated methodologies and a multidirectional decolonial approach to learning.

Sara Yaoska / Eloise Maltby Maland
Barcelona, Spain
We are artists, researchers, and spatial practitioners, creating caring spaces through storytelling, collective learning and ecology projects.
Team members
Sara Yaoska Herrera Dixon
Eloise Maltby Maland
Field of work
Ecology, Multimedia, Curating, Research, Other
Project category
Rural spaces
Project submitted

Our collaborative practice engages with places through situated methodologies. We create caring collective spaces and co-learning processes for sharing, thinking and making together. We are interested in how we understand, and act upon, our positions within the land as part of larger ecological systems.

We facilitate spaces for collective learning that experiment with forms of storytelling to invite and hold together multiple perspectives: from short story reading clubs to interventions in public space. Recently we collaborated with Caterina Miralles on 'Fiesta del Árbol' as part of the Model+ Festival, 2023. This project invited audiences to explore Barcelona's multi-species communities through a route among the city's trees. They were guided by an interactive book holding histories, stories and mythologies, with prompts to engage with the trees through careful observation, drawing and writing.

Our largest ongoing project is summer pools, an arts and spatial practice summer school (see proposal description).

We also continue to develop our own independent spatial practices and collaborate with other artists, researchers and curators, which nourish and inform our collective practice. Sara works in architectural publishing and Eloise in arts facilitation.

We have shared our work through exhibitions, workshops and performances including at MODEL Barcelona Architectures Festival, Barcelona; TPK, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat; Tecla Sala, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat; Zumzeig Cinecooperativa, Barcelona; the Chilean Conexion Festival, Berlin; De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea; SAHGB, London; the Royal Academy, London; OmVed Gardens, London; The Floating University, Berlin; Glogauair, Berlin; School of Environment and Architecture, Mumbai; and Film festival Continental Drift, Arad. We have contributed to publications including Queer Spaces: An Atlas of LGBTQIA+ Spaces by RIBA, 2022; Encounters by Theatrum Mundi, 2022; and Across Borders by Field Journal, 2023.

summer pools engages with place through situated methodologies, connecting to land and creating community around spatial practices. It was born out of conversations about a need and yearning to think through alternative models of collective practice, care and support.

We invite people for a week of workshops to think, make and share knowledges and skills. Activities are framed around a word borrowed from the landscape we are in. We are interested in language as a way of noticing, paying attention and implicating our bodies in the land.

In 2023, based in Perthshire, Scotland, we borrowed the Gaelic word of TAGHAIRM meaning a ‘noise; echo; type of divination by listening to the noise of waterfalls’, exploring sound along the River Tay through movement, co-writing and instrument-making. This year we will respond to the word DÒIRNEAG, meaning ‘a stone that fills the fist when held’, exploring scales of time from our location on a dyke formed millions of years ago.

Working practice
Our work grows from our friendship through continual negotiation and consideration of working ethics, financial equity and relations to productivity and rest.

Last year we invited artists, designers and spatial practitioners who travelled from Italy, Spain, Germany and the UK. To maintain and grow the community, we invited the same people this year and asked them to extend the invitation to someone else. We are thinking through structures of collaboration that build from trust and embrace different sensitivities.

summer pools is a frame for active and reflective engagement with the land around us. We attend to situated and decolonial methodologies for engaging with living landscapes, thinking about spaces through their layered and politicised contexts and our own positionality.

Extended Networks
Part of summer pools’ yearning is to cultivate networks across sites and communities with common desires for socially just and caring ways of being in the land.