Forest + Found on the benefits of a Volvo Estate
Makers Abigail Booth and Max Bainbridge tell us about the importance of their car that allows for private time together wherever they are – and fits an entire tree inside it…
A ‘hole-and-corner’ is an old English term meaning a secret place: somewhere you go to escape, to be inspired, to contemplate and to create. Where is your ‘hole-and-corner’?
This might sound like a strange answer, but it absolutely has to be our much-loved 1990s Volvo Estate. We live quite itinerant lives, always on the move from one place to another for research and exhibitions, and travelling back and forth from our studio in London. It is not just the car itself, but what it has allowed us to do and the impact it has had on the way we live that makes it such a unique home-from-home to escape and explore the world beyond our studio.
Can you explain why it is so special to you?
It was the first investment we made together, at a time when we didn’t have a lot of money, so symbolically it felt like a huge step towards freedom and the beginning of something really exciting. It gave us the escape we needed from the city and allowed us to go out and source and collect material in a way that we had never been able to do before. Anyone that has ever owned one knows how amazing they are – and that we aren’t lying when we say it is entirely possible to fit a whole tree in the back and still get home (albeit at the top speed of 60mph). It is something we have continued to invest in over the years as we’ve grown to love how far it has taken us, from all over the UK to Europe too. A long-term goal is to drive it all the way to Scandinavia and back – preferably as part of an artist residency.
Is it important to you to have somewhere to escape from the hustle and bustle of life?
Definitely. There is nothing more exciting than packing the car and driving off to stay somewhere remote for a few days of downtime or taking part in an artist-in-residence event somewhere outside of London. We value that time away to generate new ideas, have in-depth conversations about where we want to take the work, experiment and explore new materials and then to bring all that back to the studio to process. It builds a rhythm into our work and lives that we really value, as well as allowing us to visit and stay with family, friends and other makers and artists.
What do you like to listen to when you’re working?
It varies depending on the time of year and what we are doing. We listen to music when we are travelling and on the move. A few of our favourites are Chris Issak, Johhny Cash and Neil Young – and as soon as the days start to get warmer we love to listen to Amadou & Mariam, Sara Tavares, Manu Chao and Ojos de Brujo. When we are in the studio and working to a deadline, we listen to audiobooks and podcasts: This American Life and Revisionist History being a few of our favourites. Having a narrative to follow really helps with productivity when we are under pressure.
What elements do you think make a perfect ‘hole-and-corner’?
It needs to give you the time and space to think and talk and to generate new ideas. For us it gives us that chance to collaborate – and allow that dialogue between our ideas and work to play out. A lot of that is about having a relationship to the land and being able to get out and explore different parts of the world, collecting a palette of raw materials and cultural observations as we go.
Is it private to you or do you let other people visit?
We are often travelling to meet other people, so the end goal is to be in a social space communicating and collaborating with others. However, being in the moment, in the car, gives us the space and time together to reflect and talk without distraction, which is so important.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Abigail Booth: My Nana once told my brother and me that if you try enough times, someone will eventually pick you by mistake. It has stuck in our family as a motto for life. What she really meant is that you never give up. If you believe in it – and work hard – you will succeed.
Max Bainbridge: Always be yourself and have integrity in the work you do – the best advice my mum continues to give me.