This work takes its title from a Henry James short story ‘The Great Good Place’. In James’s story a character is magically transplanted from the stresses of his life to a place of perfect suspension. The place is as mundane as it is mysterious - time and logic and sentences simply drift.

I started making Great Good Places ten years ago, a few weeks before my first baby was born, and continued to work on it for the next 16 months, at naptimes, when he slept, and at nighttime, when I should have been sleeping. In the afternoons we would circle the ‘Tank Field’ together - a local flatness of grass, remarkable in no way at all except for being the only green space for miles. Against this backdrop the film got figured out, me speaking its parts and permutations out loud and my son considering it all silently from his pram, like a therapist in a tv show.

Recently, inside a Covid-19 lockdown and with the Tank Field acting again as stand-in for the Great Outdoors and the Outside World, I’m reminded a lot of this period…the limitation…the suspension. Except back then I actually felt like I was in my own kind of Jamesian Great Good Place. And this time…well, this time it doesn’t feel so great or so good. In the film, landscapes, museums and offices form odd hybrid-backdrops, set up like the defunct props of a past life. A scrap of plastic provides the only narrative possibility - animated, erratic, evolving, it works to hold our attention, while overall nothing really happens. At the time I thought of this plastic as a kind of beginning-again, an endless something-from-nothing gesture, an imaginative spark against a background of collapsed possibility. Now, adjusting to the lived-reality of absent museums, offices, landscapes, I wonder if that scrap of plastic is as likely me, us, whoever, just hanging around, flailing unproductively.

But maybe in this moment I just want the messiness of art, stripped of ready-made meaning or miracle cures. Either way, the film Great Good Places remains an important piece for me and still represents a way of working - a game of moving parts and possibilities that I have been playing ever since. And will continue to, just as soon as I can concentrate…

May 2020