Wednesday 30th July – Next stages and documentation
This has been a very special residency. Thank you to Judith Alder, Eastbourne College and Blue Monkey Network for making this collaboration happen and thank you to all my fellow Shared Space artists for being so inspiring and dedicated. As artists we often lurk in the shadows, so having two full weeks, 9 to 6, where very little else mattered apart from making work is really very empowering. Returning to Eastbourne after 5 years living and working in France, the residency has enabled me to change direction in my work and make really valuable connections with the local creative environment.
Having this intensive time allowed me to work instinctively, to find varied solutions, to ask the right questions and to take my ideas on a particular journey. The work I am developing certainly grew out of my initial proposal but the ideas have mutated quite considerably. I came away from the residency with several plans for how I want to move the work forward.
It was really useful to push materials about; to print, sketch, paint and stick. I hadn’t used sketchbooks since foundation, preferring to make plans on scraps of paper, but I made a conscious decision that I would try and work my way through four books during the residency period, using them more than anything as a way of warming-up to that day’s work and keeping a more chronological document of which direction the ideas were going.
So the first stage of the project are two 120cm x 80cm prints that I made to test the scale needed for the planned 3D work. I used feathers to print directly onto inkjet prints, repeating the overlay 100’s of times to figure out how dense the feathers would need to be to start to completely mask or obscure the character.
The second stage is to make the feathered mask or shroud, I will then photograph it being worn on location in Eastbourne. I plan to approach a few small local history museums to ask if I can set up a temporary display cabinet to this mythological character. I had also sketched out a rough idea for a film on powerpoint, I’ll develop all the imagery for that now and then think about projecting it as a triptych on a larger scale.
Another really important thing I’ve learnt from the two weeks is how we have to be visible as artists. This is my first time blogging and I have really enjoyed it. It was a very good way to self-assess at the end of each day how things were going, to reflect and to share. This summer I’ll play catch-up with my fellow artists, drag myself into the 21st century and finally make a website for my work.
Friday 18th July – Clearing up and pushing on
Last day today to get the first part of the project that has emerged during these two weeks set down. The repetitive nature of this part of the process has allowed me thinking time where the ideas behind the visuals and narrative can be explored and clarified.
For this project I have been really interested in how our perception of each other shifts, particularly the transition that happens between welcome benevolence towards, in this piece, a local quirky character, to malevolent mistrust and abuse when it is perceived that the character has become too masked.
Herbert Cole writes in ‘I am not myself – the art of African masquerade’, – the masker neither talks nor acts like a true human and as he careers wildly through the village seems to be outside human laws.
Martha, my youngest daughter, said very clearly last year aged 3 in a low, deep, other worldly voice out of nowhere “I am not you, you are not me“. Weird child yes, but this phrase has resonated with us all in the family. That’s her on the beach at Summer Solstice doing some sort of fire dance.
Her voice was almost as deep as Tennessee Ernie Ford when he sang Sixteen Tons.
Thursday 17th July – The end is nigh
All of us have really settled into the ritual of coming to our shared space every day, a wonderful dynamic has happened across the three spaces. Now we have one more day left, it has passed too quickly but has certainly served me as a great kickstart into a new phase of making work. I know the direction I want the work to take is 3D and film but with just one day left it’s good to concentrate on finishing one stage of the process, so I printed all day building up the layers of feathers. Then taking a walk of course all I see are more feathers and more small acts of violence (the miniature explosions of seagull droppings).
Wednesday 16th July 2014 – Scale
I decided over the weekend that I wanted to move out of sketchbook size and up to just over life-size with the images of my character, so an online order was placed very late Sunday night, my finger hovering over the place order button, hesitating, slightly apprehensive, and then click it’s done and so two large inkjet prints were collected from Spectrum in Hove this morning. It’s great to have scaled up and I started printing on them this afternoon.
Tuesday 15th July 2014 – Engineering accidents
We are all trying to push our materials and ways of working around to try and engineer accidents, where something unexpected suddenly happens and makes us look again, think again and head off in a new direction. This is really exciting.
Here’s a video from the group OK Go for my fellow Shared Space artists who have continued to push and shove their work in new directions during our residency.
Monday 14th July 2014 – Planning
Decided this morning that although it is good to allow the work to develop intuitively during the second week of the residency, for me, it is also a good idea to try and focus on a few definite stages to complete one or two pieces by the end of the week. I would like to use cine film to capture some of the imagery but this is something I will have to pursue during the summer, it would just take too long to process the film. I would also like to start working in 3D and might try to rough out my idea later in the week, this would then be photographed on location in Eastbourne with a few other props, so again this will need to be a work in progress. Meanwhile my hands have turned blue after printing feathers.
Friday 11th July 2014 – Friday afternoon feeling
Weird day today, started off with observing art classes at Eastbourne Academy, then back to Shared Space studio at Eastbourne College. Similar names, very different places. Good to step back through the door of the studio and get that art going on smell and the sound of quiet endeavour and concentration from my fellow artists. Waiting for some paper and some photos, waiting for technology, waiting for my brain to decide exactly which way to go with the work. Music is Nils Okland, Straum (just don’t look at the overly romantic video from who knows where)
Thursday 10th July 2014 – Focus
It’s a funny thing that happens when you allow yourself the time to fully focus on a piece of work, your brain goes into a sort of super receptive mode where the images that you are searching for can appear right in front of your eyes. This happened today when I caught sight of the perfect flowers just 200m from the studio. It’s not that I had a very specific image in mind, it’s more a kind of private conversation between my eyes and some hidden part of my brain. Music in parallel today, Bonnie Prince Billy, I see a darkness
Wednesday 9th July 2014 – Arm’s length
Imagining ways to describe the narrative that is developing around my character. I find it interesting how a piece of work can start to have a life of it’s own, how it will guide you to create a certain physical presence. Today it was pushing me towards film and away from drawing. I think my trials with the print press this morning and the possibility of making so many variations has influenced the thought of using film as a way of recording the layering of images. I’ll set my camera up tomorrow and see what happens. It’s an unbelievable luxury to go back to this space day after day to keep trying out new ideas and new ways of working.
Tuesday 8th July 2014 – The voices in my head
A character in a story has started to emerge from the drawings. A shadowy figure, compulsive. The drawings might map the end of his life. An archive in a corner of a small museum of local history. Good to listen to music in the studio, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Child.
Monday 7th July 2014 – Something on paper
Plan for first day, begin pushing materials around and get something (anything) onto paper. Trying not to censor or judge, I sketch a vaguely remembered archive of past works that still ring in my head. A kind of mapping exercise. New stories start to appear. The physical space of the studio creates head space, and each hour that passes allows me to stretch out.