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By: Jane Ponsford
The title of the blog, from a piece of writing by Anni Albers is a rather apt description of the exhilarating feeling of freefall (or is it flying?) that I am feeling now as I emerge from a twelve month project and residency.
This year's projects: 'Recycle by Design'.
'Contemporary Art in the Surrey Landscape'.
'So Surrey' based at Caterham
St George's Arts http://stgeorgesarts.wordpress.com/
# 51 [3 March 2009]
It is almost a year since I began this blog whose purpose was to record and reflect on the twelve months after most of the work on my 'Papertrails' project came to an end. It has been an odd year; neither falling nor flying, more like blown around in all sorts of directions. I suppose that that's the result of being an artist with, what we are all encouraged to have now; a portfolio career. Apart from keeping the wolf from the door type activities I have also been involved in various exhibitions, two big projects, have started work at St George's Arts organising the residency programme and fundraising for it, have run workshops thither and yon and have made some work that feels as if it's going in the right direction. I should feel a sense of achievement but I actually feel as if I am losing focus. I have made a resolution to streamline things a bit once I have carried out my present commitments (read, ruthlessly prune out everything that is distracting me).
Navel gazing concluded! This blog has reached its own slightly inconclusive conclusion too and is going to be replaced by a blog which focuses more on the actual work and less on the rickety edifice which holds it all up.
# 50 [23 February 2009]
The workshops at the Arc were the first practical (as in 'making' rather than 'talking') interaction with local people and functioned as the opening events to the project that I am working on in Caterham. The two afternoons went well, participants made individual maps of themselves and their town and we had some interesting chats. The events were open to families and it was run at half term so it was mainly youngsters taking part. Most people went home with a book that they had made about themselves and we tried to document the workshops as we went along; not always easy.
Irrespective of the merit of the occasion it felt like a minor milestone actually making a start though these feeling were completely overshadowed by the news which emerged over the two days that the Arc was being forced to close at the end of March. This is the same Arc that we were working in that was noisily packed so full of people that finding somewhere to park nearby when I was dropping off my materials and equipment was almost impossible.
This is not some elitist temple to obscurity, it is a well-loved, well-used home of musical events, dance classes, art classes, small exhibitions, soft play areas, it's where all sorts of local groups like the 'Baby Cafe' meet and interact. It's one of those places where that most box-ticked group, 'the community', actually get together.
The Arc, Caterham: http://www.tandridgeleisure.co.uk/thearc_home.php
# 49 [18 February 2009]
I feel rather thinly spread right now. My time is divided between regular work and the rather sporadic (read frantically busy and not very remunerative) projects that I find interesting. I'm finding it difficult to write about the work I'm doing overseeing the St George's Arts Residency because at the moment the applications are coming in and while the whole process is fascinating I don't feel I should comment on them other than to say that I have met some lovely people and heard some really interesting approaches to the residency. It has made me reflect on applications in general though; why don't people type, why have so many people forgotten to enclose their c.v. or the contact details of the referee and why have people applied from so far afield? We have had applications from the US, France and Thailand amongst others. Although saying that, I find filling out forms paralysing when its my own particular project that I would like to be given the opportunity to do. I have three applications to write for opportunities I would so much like to do and am finding them impossible to put into words.
I am preparing for and carrying out some workshops at the Arc in Caterham today and on Thursday as part of what used to be called 'So, Surrey' but has now been renamed 'Creative Communities, Surrey'. It's hard to comment about this project too because there are so many people involved and so many hopes and wishes riding on it.
In my own work, I really want the opportunity to develop things that I have started to work on over the last year or two. It's one of those points when I am so excited by the work but have no real time to actually carry it out. Thus the need for the fluent, persuasive form filling!
# 48 [31 January 2009]
I think the time has nearly come when this blog splits into two because my work seems to be diverging into two related but separate activities. The project in Caterham which has been progressing oh so slowly has gained some momentum and looks as if it requires its own blog while my work at St George's Arts helping to organise the 2009 residency is also developing apace. Unless this blog is for the bits of my practice which are outside both of these activities; in other words 'my own work'!
I decided that I needed a bit of time devoted to that particular area of my experience and so spent a wonderful day preparing for some paper-making by using a hollander beater to make gallons of pulp from linen. I really enjoyed just doing stuff without any rationalizing and with absolutely no typing. I have pent up so much of the practical 'making' side of my work recently that I am overwhelmed with ideas and want to run away from all responsibility and carry out some of this making. However, that's not to be; during the week I have a few days work on the Caterham project and some admin for St George's too.
I am really happy about how St George's is working out. We have not only secured our Grassroots funding for the next two years in addition to support from The Churches Conservation Trust but also heard on Thursday that we have succeeded in our application for a grant from local funders The R C Sherriff Trust.
# 47 [25 January 2009]
It has been over a month since I last posted a blog entry. I'm not sure why it has taken this long. I've been very busy, I suppose. The last time I wrote anything here was before Christmas and the family were going down with various ailments and work was getting complicated. However the new year has started well despite a growing suspicion that I have too many fingers in too many pies. Just at the moment my own work is taking a back seat to more consistently money earning activities and my role co-ordinating the Art / Craft Residency at St George's Arts. The project at St George's is going very well, with the news the other day that we have secured funding from Grassroots over two years for organisational development. I hope that this will help us to weather the storms. Being involved in organizing the residency itself has proved very interesting. It's strange being on the other side of the fence. I keep wondering how I would frame an application if I was applying. One of our hopes is that people interpret the opportunity imaginatively and don't think of it as a community art project with a studio thrown in but take the twelve days stipulated 'outreach' in quite a broad sense and think about things that they would actually like to do.
# 46 [3 December 2008]
I am having a rather frustrating time right now. Things are good but everything seems to be achieved after huge efforts and in slow motion. Yesterday was a case in point. I had an important meeting and set off in good time (I have a bit of a problem in that I hate being late so I always set out early). It was a complicated train journey with about three changes so it takes a bit of time. About halfway through the journey there was an announcement that someone had died on the line and so the next two hours was spent traveling around south London in orbit around the point I was aiming to get to; always in motion but never getting there. Today I have overcompensated and have done huge amounts of phoning, emailing and general arranging and being busy but feel that I have in some ways also been in orbit around the point I wished to arrive at.
I want a day in the studio doing work just for me. Who would ever have thought that one could spend so much time doing office work and commuting while being an artist?
# 45 [19 November 2008]
There seems to be a bit of a go-slow on the Creative Communities project at Caterham. There is due to be a rescheduled meeting with interested parties before Christmas but I haven't heard anything yet. Thank goodness I have some (unrelated) workshops in the pipeline. One in fact is tomorrow; which I am looking forward to.
Some of my work has been selected for a group paper exhibition and coming up is a meeting for artists from the south east selected for 'Visual', the Art and Business organization but apart from that things are rather flat.
# 44 [12 November 2008]
Well I hope yesterday wasn't a sign of how things are going to be on the Caterham project. Late on Monday I was phoned to be told that the committee meeting was cancelled as there were too few people able to come along to make it worthwhile but could I come along anyway, at 3.30 rather than at 6.00, when it was originally scheduled; to discuss things with Becci and Katy from Tandridge and the Arc and Celine the project co-ordinator . During Tuesday morning there was a further call to ask could I make it 3.00 p.m. instead? And once we got there we had to wait till 4.00 anyway.
I feel a huge urge to try to find a nice, comfy ivory tower and just concentrate on making my own work.
It will all work out I am sure.
I have been feeling at little guilty for presenting a rather one-sided view of events yesterday (above) and would also like to say that everyone at the meeting was enthusiastic, focussed and supportive as well as slightly late!
# 43 [10 November 2008]
Tomorrow I am finally to meet some of the interested parties in the Caterham project as I go to the Arc for a meeting of the Caterham Arts Festival committee together with Becci Kenning and Katy Potter from the Arts Team at Tandridge. I am really keen to get started as it does seem to have taken a long while to get to this point. http://www.tandridgeleisure.co.uk/thearc_home.php
Other news concerns the project to develop St George's Church in Esher as a venue for artist residencies and exhibitions. I went to Brighton on Friday to meet Frances Lord, a source of much good advice, to see if she could suggest any strategies and useful contacts regarding the research and development application that will be required to get a long term programme established. She was very helpful and I'll post as things happen.
# 42 [6 November 2008]
Research for my Caterham Project:
What makes the place what it is?
In the beginning it was the sea, which stretched across all of what we know now as the south of England. During the Cretaceous period, over almost unimaginable lengths of time, the calcified remains of minute algae and other fossil debris drifted slowly to the sea bed eventually to form the ridges of chalk that make up the North and South Downs.
Rather comically, the image looks like a bunch of buttons.
Jane Ponsford is an artist based in the South-East. Her work, sculpture, bookworks, installation is often ephemeral and delicate and involves repetitive, laborious processes, constructing sculptural forms made up of hundreds of near identical fragments.