Reflections on Director’s Lab North (Canada)

TB Artist Support Associate, Caroline Williams reflects on her experience in Toronto, Canada as part of the British Council Director’s Lab North


This April the British Council sent me off to Canada on a cultural exchange as part of Directors Lab North and Luminato Festival in Toronto.

Since then Ive been thinking about how as artists we can behave like detectives/sponges/mirrors when we go, or are lucky enough to be sent, on such trips, specifically the ones happening outside of the UK.

Often, we are not presenting work in this context but we are here, amongst it all and playing the role that is perhaps the most important onewere being an audience. But were not just an audience to the work that we see, were also an audience to a new set of cultural rules, a new set of smells and new food to put in our bellies.

In this place we are, which I think is a comfortable space for most artists, an outsider. And I think its this being outside which is the exciting part. With this distance, we can mull over and roll around in what we see. We can write, draw, dance or take sneaky pictures in order to capture the new world we are in.

We can see how work speaks to a different set of culturally specific ears and what it is in work which speaks beyond those specifics. What stories need to be told here? Who has the right to tell certain stories and who doesnt here?

And how do the answers to those questions teach me more about what stories we all need to tell?

I stole a trick from the form of my favourite book, Joe Brainards I remember,as a way to try to hold onto my experiences in Canada. So, heres my attempt to go undercover and bring you back a few memories: