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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/
# 31 [6 August 2008]
I am hard at work now finishing off work for the 'Recycled by Design' project. The group show starts on 20 September at the Guildford House Gallery and my solo element goes from 16 September at the Lightbox (my home-from-home). I have just begun to be able to relax into the work again after all the competing bits of this and other projects. Sometimes you have to turn off the editorial / organizing voice in your mind and just work things out through doing them. It is a huge relief to find that it's possible to do this even though the deadlines are hanging over me. I am very happy to be involved in all the things that I am involved in but it can get rather stressful. I'd better confess here that I am involved in another project or two straight after this one. This year has been more like a fun-fair ride than a calm meander through things; although I think I described it as 'free-fall or flying' at one point.
# 30 [1 August 2008]
Yesterday evening was the launch of 'Contemporary Art in the Surrey Landscape' which spotlights various art projects through Surrey and for which I had made an installation in the courtyard of the Lightbox Gallery. The launch went well, I think and it was good to see what everyone had been working on. Some of the individual projects will have their own openings over the next few weeks throughout August and September. There were speeches and thanks, the odd glass of wine and a chance to meet the other artists. Jonathan Parsons (one of the artists featured in the project and also arc coordinator based at Aspex) talked to me about some positive developments for networking locally.
The last few days leading up to the launch had been good for me. I enjoyed installing the work at the Lightbox. It was good to see everyone again and they were all really helpful. It was also good to be working in a public place because all the other trails of 'Storytrees' had been installed through woodland. Although eventually they get seen by people it isn't necessarily when one is there oneself. I enjoyed seeing people reading the stories and talking about them.
Because of the funding situation the stories I had used for this installation had had to be drawn from my own research rather than direct contact with people. It would have been great to gather them in the same way as I had with the rest of the 'Storytree' project however I was really happy to have had the opportunity to do this installation. The stories I chose were partly from the oral history museum at the Lightbox which has a great collection of anecdotal descriptions of Woking in the recent past. I concentrated on ones about the landscape and how it was used; to play on, for crops, for industry and combined these with excerpts from the Domesday Book about the manors of Woking and the Woking Hundreds. The last set of texts I used were lists of plants found even today in the area.
# 29 [29 July 2008]
I have been in France for a few days and came back to a rather busy time straight away. Over the weekend I ran some workshops at the Riverhouse Barn in Walton, Surrey. This is the base for the Robert Phillips Gallery where the current show is 'Breaking the Mould', an international exhibition, curated by Hillary Sussum, of artists who work using paper. The exhibition is a really interesting survey of different approaches to the medium and I was pleased to be asked to run the course. I enjoyed the weekend very much, meeting a lovely group of people who responded to the materials and processes with enthusiasm and by making some wonderful work. www.riverhousebarn.co.uk/
The last couple of days have been filled with preparations for Wednesday when I am making a temporary installation of 'Storytrees' in the courtyard of the Lightbox Gallery for the launch of 'Contemporary Art in the Surrey Landscape'.
# 28 [10 July 2008]
I have been having a busy few days. I have been working on some pieces related to my last project, 'Papertrails', more of that on my other blog but I have also been taking advantage of the end of my workshops at Woking to get out a bit and see some other people's work too which I have really enjoyed. On Tuesday I had a trip to Brighton for a couple of good meetings and I also went to Judith and Roz's discussion about their 'Breaking Ground' project and its development through 'Outside In'. It was good to meet them again and interesting to see the fruit of their collaboration. Their space was filled with beautiful books and evocative images and lists of words. There is an interesting structure to their project with distinct episodes or chapters which can respond to what has gone before. All the visitors were involved in the discussion and had to bring a 'gift' from the outside to the project and before we left had to make something from stuff from the worktable in the project room. I made a small posy of daisies. It was a good event filled with interesting ideas mapping connections and marking exchanges.
# 27 [3 July 2008]
The last workshop went well. Everyone finished what they needed to finish and much paper-making was done. We also looked round the work from the Surrey Open which is showing at the gallery. At the end of this phase of the project it is good to be looking forward to the next bit. I still have to discuss a few things about the final show with Michael Regan and will be having a meeting on Friday.
On Monday evening I went to the Jerwood Space to see the 'Contemporary Makers' show there and to listen to a talk with ceramicist, Edmund de Waal and choreographer and dancer Siobhan Davies. This was a wonderful evening and I came away really inspired. The exhibition itself is the new initiative of the Jerwood foundation to support and promote applied arts. The artists; Gary Breeze, Sara Brennan, Lin Cheung, Drummond Masterton, Deirdre Nelson, Nicholas Rena and Clare Twomey were selected and asked to make some work responding to the theme of 'touch'. Edmund de Waal one of the selectors, described this as being a way of bringing 'seven artists from a diverse range of disciplines into dialogue with each other.'
The talk between Edmund de Waal and Siobhan Davies examined the differences and similarities between their own work and their approaches to their work. Both concluded that they were as concerned with the gaps, pauses and spaces as with what happens in-between.
# 26 [30 June 2008]
Tomorrow is the last workshop at the Lightbox with my group of youngsters. We are going to spend the two hours just making paper. Each sheet made will be part of the final installation in September. I am looking forward to being able to start actually producing work again myself. It's going to be interesting to see how the processes involved in its making will modify the final forms of the work. The whole project has been based for me on translations and alterations which I find fascinating.
A bit of background to the work:
I have been aiming to make some work that will respond to the light and spaces at the gallery as well as the overall theme of recycling and reusing. One of the pieces that I am making with the children and people who work at the Lightbox is a book whose pages: handmade by everyone who takes part; are impressed with textures made and found at the Lightbox. One of the other collaborative pieces is a long 'Landscape' made of hand cast paper. Its shape is designed to catch the light streaming into the building. Complimentary to these and using the same forms are some pieces made of found pages from discarded books.
# 25 [27 June 2008]
I'm posting photos of some of the books made in my Lightbox workshops. The last session with my group of kids is coming up on Tuesday and we are going to spend the time paper-making. The books and other things we have made together over the term are to go home with children and they are going to leave me with heaps of handmade paper. I have found this project very interesting and I have met some lovely people. The children; and I hope other people from the Lightbox eventually, will have contributed quite a lot to the work to be exhibited in September.
The dates for the exhibition are 16 September until 30 November. At the time of writing there isn't any information on the Lightbox website about it but it's a while off yet.
# 24 [25 June 2008]
The last but one workshop session with the Lightbox group went well. I think everyone has finished their book or books. I was too busy helping with bookbinding woes to take many photos but I came home with one that has little to do with their individual work but a great deal to do with my interest in stacking and accumulating stuff. I'll post some more of their work next time.
The last week at the Lightbox is going to be paper-making. I am making some pieces for an exhibition in September at the gallery and am working with the children and others, to make a 'Lightbox Book' and also some horizontal pieces that I am thinking of as landscapes.
On a completely different note, I was browsing some design / art / craft blogs out there in Blogger etc away from our little a-n blog enclave and was very impressed with their openness and supportiveness and also with their creative nature. Maybe we could all communicate a little more with each other. I know I am often struck by something said on one of the other a-n blogs but feel too self conscious to comment very often. I might be slightly influenced by the fact that one of the blogs; 'Found Object' featured my work yesterday!
Anyway some blogs to look at if you feel like a break from our slightly earnest tone:
# 23 [23 June 2008]
I think I was feeling a little negative when I posted my last blog entry. Today I am trying to make definite arrangements about the work I am doing. It always makes me feel better when I don't feel as if I am on a runaway train! The projects that I am working on or due to work on are all converging a little alarmingly so I need to sort out the details and then things will be fine. However I am really looking forward to a holiday!
Yesterday I found out that Surrey have used one of my images or in fact a detail of one of my images on a flier about their Contemporary Art in the Surrey Landscape project which is pleasing. The project will be launched at the Lightbox on 31st July and I am due to install some work along the canal-side for the event. More info (though not much) on: www.surreycc.gov.uk/arts
Follow the link for Visual Arts.
Everything seems to be in some way linked to the Lightbox for me at the moment. Tomorrow I am there again for my penultimate workshop with the kids at the Junior Art School and I hope to be able to post some pictures of their bookbinding. In fact I have loads of photos of their work but it seems unfair to single out one person's work as they have all done so well.
# 22 [20 June 2008]
It has been an interesting few days; some bits very good and other bits that make me feel I should review the direction that things are moving in. What has been good? I have enjoyed the opportunity afforded by clearing out my workspace for Surrey Open Studios, to see work in another context and to see it make connections. I have begun to think about making new work again instead of being so stretched by the 'stuff to do' that I can't look ahead. I am pleased with the work that the children in my workshop group have made; it's coming together now really well and they have made it their own rather than being too much like my work. I ran a workshop for the public as part of the Open Studios and met a really nice group of people who were fun to be with and enjoyed the day too. I have liked meeting people and discussing my work. I realize that I have missed this aspect of 'being the artist'. What has been bad is the growing thought that I am getting very bogged down in the kind of working practice that gets me to enable others to do things rather than making meaningful things myself. I worry about the two extremes that I lurch between. On one hand making consumable artifacts and on the other being involved in work where the value of the artist has to be measured in 'utility'.
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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.