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To begin the collaboration,we took a few tentative steps in the direction of a conversation about colour. We began, in that first week, by choosing a colour palette together. We have both been somewhat limited in our use of colour in our previous work, so in order to make decisions about a new palette, we took a long walk to the local art supply store and discussed the associations we had regarding different colours. The array of ‘speedball’ and ‘jacquard’ screen printing inks available was huge and we settled on a small selection of pinks, florescent reds, golds, coppers and a velvety black. This small step allowed us to start a dialogue together around our conceptual and visual expectations of the collaboration.

After we’d decided on the colours that we would work with collectively, we both began to generate collections of words based around our experiences of America so far. These words and phrases in both English and French became the foundations for images we began to carve, cut out and generate over the following weeks. We experimented with the pigments and palette we’d created, in screen printing, marbling and mokuhanga. As the words lived with us, the imagery they inspired took shape.


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The process of collaborating on this printmaking residency made me a little nervous. I have collaborated in the past with other artists on specific projects, but often I had already established a good working relationship with that person and our working styles or methodology had been similar. This time, at Kala, it would be a leap into the unknown. As a sculptor and printmaker, I knew my collaborator’s previous work to be large scale, bold and often monochromatic, which honestly, I found a little intimidating. My current explorations with Japanese water-based printmaking techniques (mokuhanga) have been small-scale and though ambiguous, often reference a narrative. Brisson-Darveau’s works are more concerned with the abstract, although narrative exists within that. We are used to working very differently in terms of scale and production, yet our commitment to completing projects is mirrored in one another. The similarities that each of us are image makers, printmakers, and have a playful approach to our practices, will help to establish connections within the project. ┬áTogether, I wondered how we would navigate the terrain of this printmaking collaboration, at an unfamiliar studio in a new city to both of us.


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Early days in the print studio at KALA were all about familiarising myself with the lovely staff members, observing ┬áhow the studio works and getting to know some of the fellow artists in residence and printmakers that use KALA regularly as part of their practice. The studio is an extension of many of the artists’ studios, arriving with specific objectives to achieve in the day, or night (the studio is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week). Over the past month, I have used the studio at different times of the day and night, with the flexibility of being able to get access without regular time restrictions (except if I need technical support), it has meant that I am able to go and explore an idea or test out a process at the drop of a hat. This is something I am unused to, from my experience of print studios in the UK. The fact that as a key holder at KALA you are trusted to use the studio at your own discretion, at whatever hours suit you best has been hugely freeing to me creatively.

I often find, like many other artists, that I work best in the afternoons and evenings, leaving the mornings free. The early evening light, here in the Bay area totally captivates me. The light in the studio, which is both east and west facing, floods into the space, illuminating everything in its golden glow. This, for me, is the best time to be in the studio. Most printmakers seem to leave between 5 – 7pm, leaving behind only a few artists working the late shift. I find I can focus more and have better productivity when it is quieter in the space. This has meant that my daily routine has had to adapt to accommodate working later. When leaving the studio, often around 11pm, I fall asleep processing the days’ work, contemplating the following days’ plan.

 


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After the busy and productive time at SGCI in Portland, I took a long 17 hour train ride down the Oregon coast to Berkeley, California. It is here that the long established KALA Art Institute welcomes artists in residence from all over the world. As a studio dedicated to printmaking, I arrived at the start of April excited to work within the facilities that promised to be a 2 month period of printmaking exploration. During this residency I am collaborating with French Canadian Artist Guillaume Brisson-Darveau on a new body of work.

Together, our proposal to KALA looked like this…

The project we propose is a continuation from the work we have undertaken in our respective practices. It addresses the questions we pose related to memory, dialogue and the meaning of artistic practice.

As though a sociologist or linguist might gather observations of the city by collecting data, we will begin to collect words, phrases, colloquialisms. We intend to navigate Berkeley through the sentences we hear, the words we find; elements likely to resonate with our mutual sensitivities will be archived and preserved in notebooks and on recording devices. We are interested in words relating to political, social, personal and everyday events.

From these words or sentences, we will we create a body of prints using our independent skills in silkscreen, woodcut, letterpress, mono print and photocopy and display them throughout the city as a tapestry, as posters, as a bridge to connect experience and memory to place. We will also create a book version of our project, which could possibly combine, the words or sentences with photographs of their manifestations in the city. We are interested in whether, by the re-appropriation of snippets of text gleaned from the city, a new reading can be generated.

We believe that in the process of printmaking, cross-cultural dialogues can occur. In creating a space for making, boundaries are blurred and connections fostered. The sharing of stories, conversation, language and memory through both oral traditions and making traditions can be a tool for communication and connectivity. Through being immersed in the local community of the Kala Institute, we are interested in exploring ways that narrative is created, connections are made, and memory is maintained by creating a space in the city for dialogue to occur. We anticipate finding inspiration at Kala along with the space needed to disseminate these ideas in the print workshop.

We see this project as a dialogue between us, as individuals, as artists, between our practices, and with the city as a whole.


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