Catherine Walshe

Blue Monkey Network member and artist, Catherine Walshe, visited the Shared Space residency Open Day. This article is her response to her visit.

I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at the Open Day on that hot Saturday afternoon. The concept of working creatively for 10 days without a predefined agenda or outcome was alien to me. My attempts to squeeze in painting or a piece of writing often ends in frustration, time runs out when I am only beginning to get in to flow.

A large scale drawing caught my attention. One of the artists went sliding past on her roller blades whilst another artist worked in the foreground. I got a flavour of enthusiasm and hard work in the studio over the 10 days. Meandering through the generous space I encountered work across feathers, charcoal, ash, fabric, etchings, film and installation. Sketches of the studio with the artists at work in various spaces recorded the journey.

I had an opportunity to meet some of the artists and discuss the experience. I asked the question ‘Would shared space have worked over 5 days? All agreed 10 days was necessary to allow themselves to be totally present in the space after the everyday distractions had faded away. Early days were spent getting to know each other and finding their own spaces. Drawing each other at work banished any pre-conceived agendas that may have subconsciously slipped in. Creative freedom became the focus when time and space allowed the work waiting in the artist’s souls to be realised and claim recognition.

Work exhibited in individual spaces invited me in to each artist’s world. Seeds for 2 huge stones were sown when one of the artists received a gift of Lithops. ‘Would the stones have been grown if not for Shared Space’ I asked. The answer was ‘probably not’. Large scale drawings came to life simply because the space invited unrestricted growth. A sketch book was abandoned to be replaced by life size prints with ink and feathers, the artist talked about her opportunity to re engage with her artistic self. Fluid lines in ash and charcoal and swirls of vermillion red reflected creativity flowing freely without any fear of censorship. I took a discreet twirl through a projected film, the artist’s sense of fun and play really came to life when the children interacted. Those moving mouths brought to mind the office where conversations happen continually yet communication is often absent.

My overall impression is that the artists were totally committed to travelling together and individually to a place of self discovery. The 10 day residency ended with 6 artists feeling tired yet exhilarated and I wonder if the exhibition marks the beginning of a new direction for them. As for me, after visiting the open day perhaps I will let go of control and allow the accidents to happen and I too may embark on a whole now creative journey.

Catherine Walshe 26 July 2014


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