Next up in my artists-in-studios series is Abi Palmer, a currently Cambridge-based (soon to be London-based) poet, writer and performer. She is part of the Cambridge arts event collective Shindig, whose recent show Tall Tales Lab(yrinth) featured her interactive poetry performance Alchemy, which in turn is now shortlisted for the 2016 Saboteur Awards in the best wildcard category.* For Alchemy, Abi designed a set of poems to be read whilst engaging with, observing or otherwise experiencing one of the four primary classical elements: earth, air, fire and water.
Alchemy was my first experience of Abi's work, and I took away from it a small hand-decorated matchbox containing her contact details (pictured above). A couple of weeks and a few emails later, I visited Abi at her home in Cambridge to see where she works. In between chatting about the local arts scene and exhibition ideas, Abi showed me some of the things she's collected or made herself for her various projects. We also talked about how disability has influenced her work (Abi has written about living with a disability as a student for The Guardian) and how to avoid being pigeon-holed as an artist. A lot of Abi's poems come to fruition through the use of cut-ups, and her many sketchbooks are filled with collages of found images and words, sharing the shelves in her workspace with books, ornaments and charity shop finds.
Since I first wrote this blog post in 2016, Abi signed a publishing contract with Penned in the Margins. Her debut book of memoir, poetry and meditations on the body, Sanatorium, was published in 2020.
* update: Abi won the award!
These images are copyright © 2016 Josh Murfitt. Please do not copy or reproduce them without permission.