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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/
# 1 [6 March 2008]
The purpose of this blog is to chart and give form to the year after my Papertrails project. Last year was so full, so prescribed and so organised that I often wished for a less regimented schedule. This year I deliberately opted for what I thought of as a breather; a calm period to assess and evaluate and build on the work of the project. This year is actually being far from any of those things. At the moment it feels utterly full of competing things with no time to weigh anything up. Welcome back to the real world!
# 2 [13 March 2008]
During the last couple of weeks I have been meeting people to discuss projects. It has been fascinating and reminds me that not all the creativity is concerned with the medium, so much of what makes things work is a creative connection with people (often the people who commission the work). Whether something works or not can often be down to this connection. I was struck by Stuart's comments in his recent post in his blog; 'Project me' which reflected on trust / autonomy in the context of working with institutions who often demand or need predetermined outcomes.
Despite some very interesting talks and potentially some very interesting projects coming up, I am desperate to just have an uninterrupted few days of making.
While making work, one can make leaps of intuition which would take for ever, or maybe not happen if one had to pre rationalise or pre determine everything. Which isn't to say that you shouldn't think about it!
# 3 [17 March 2008]
Looking through the other blogs I saw that Alinah Azadeh in her blog; Unwrapping the Gift, was referring Lesley Millar's 'Textile Routes' which is where I came across the quotation that I have used for the title of my blog.
'How do we choose our specific material, our means of communication? Accidentially. Something speaks to us, a sound, touch, hardness, softness, it catches us and asks us to be formed. We are finding our language and as we go along we learn to obey (its) rules and limits. Students worry about choosing their way. I always tell them "You can go anywhere from anywhere."' Anni Albers quoted by Lesley Millar in 'Textile Routes'.
Its one of the most interesting things about the a-n project blogs, the connections you find with other people.
# 4 [18 March 2008]
One of the projects that I am working on this year is a materials-based one with a focus on recycling and reusing. It is organized by Surrey and aims to twin artists / designers with groups within Surrey. My group is centred on Woking and I will be working at the Lightbox Gallery http://www.thelightbox.org.uk/
This is a fabulous place, designed by Marks Barfield Architects who also designed the London Eye. http://www.marksbarfield.com/search_results.php
I am really pleased to be given the opportunity to work here and make some work in response to the light streaming into the spine of the building. I am hoping to involve everyone who works there into making a contribution to the piece. Lynn and Michael, who I have been meeting with to discuss the project, have been very positive and I feel optimistic about it. I start towards the end of April with a programme of workshops with my group.
Although I do occasionally feel I should move away from being so materials and process based in my approach to work, I can't help but find the world of 'stuff' very interesting. Everything carries with it a history and narrative. See my previous blog for more eloquent musings on this subject.
# 5 [31 March 2008]
It has been one of those times when real life intrudes and it has been impossible to work for a while. I've had an awful cold and things have just tripped me up. However it has given me the chance to think about approaches to the Lightbox project. I find it very interesting to use materials that have already had a function. Even after, for instance completely pulping a book and making it into something else, it always seems to me that there is a ghost of its former self still present.
# 6 [8 April 2008]
The project at the Lightbox is soon to start and preparations are well underway. There have been issues over funding for the project as a whole in these slightly uncertain days but now the basis of the larger project (into which my element of the work fits) has been secured, which means we can all get on with working out in more detail what we will be doing. My work starts with a programme of workshops and develops into an installation / exhibition in the Lightbox in the future, linked with a group exhibition at the Guildford House Gallery in September. The overall project is called Recycled by Design which gives an outline of the remit but is a rather uninspiring title. My own project within this umbrella is based on text, and materiality. My working title is 'Translations' which I hope conveys the sense of removal, change and transmutation which I am interested in investigating.
# 7 [19 April 2008]
This weekend I am going over images for a powerpoint slide show for Tuesday. I am hoping to show things which will give the students an idea of the possibilities of using materials without being too prescriptive. Next week is 'week one' of the workshops with my group and officially when the project begins.
# 8 [23 April 2008]
The first of ten workshops at the Lightbox started with none of the technical stuff working. My laptop (with PowerPoint slide show) refused to talk to the gallery’s projector; transferring the PowerPoint to their laptop didn’t work either and finally running upstairs to the conference room with the PowerPoint on a memory stick to play through yet another computer set up to its own projector, didn’t work.
After that things went fine!
The group of children from the Lightbox’s resident ‘Junior Art School’ were great, friendly and interested. The increasing numbers of people drafted-in to help with the non-communicative technology were also great, friendly and interested and more importantly, unflappable. I have to confess to being in a teeny-weeny flap myself (!) but that soon passed as we got down to industriously making paper after having peered at the rather reduced slide show on laptop screens.
There is something very calming about papermaking, maybe its to do with being up to your elbows in porridgy liquid. Anyway the purpose of these workshops is to involve the group and as many other people from the Lightbox as possible, in making some contributions towards a piece of work for the exhibition and also to have some fun in the process.
My own work in relation to the project is growing almost organically. I’m finding it interesting revisiting some older territory in terms of material and content but with different ideas about scale and form.
# 9 [25 April 2008]
The rest of the week has been filled with ‘stuff to do’ rather than anything terribly creative. I’m am organising materials etc for a one-day workshop at Farnham Maltings on 10 May as well as resources for next week’s Lightbox workshop (no PowerPoint this time!). I am hoping to go to see the ‘Blood on Paper’ Book–art exhibition at the V&A and nip into Falkiner Fine Papers too.
# 10 [30 April 2008]
Week two finds me wondering about connections again; this time with the group that I am working with. The children who make up the group are lovely, enquiring, interested youngsters but they are also tired after concentrating all day at school. I think they could do with running around and letting off steam first. I am trying to find the right balance with them. Last week what we did was ‘too easy’ (in my opinion); this week it was ‘too hard’, next week I’m hoping we can find things ‘just right’. We are making some books individually as well as the piece that I am working on with their input and the processes involved are clearly interesting to them so we are on the right track.
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.