How things map out is so often purely coincidental. Here I am, sitting at a farmhouse table an hour’s travel outside Saskatoon, a place I had never even heard of. The sun is hot, a gentle breeze and the ticks are seeking me out when I venture outside. I have done two days of really interesting work in conjunction with Linda Duvall’s In The Hole residency. My aim was to use the confined space of a hole to experiment with the idea of sound, space and self as well as certain other vague notions about holes and their physicality. It has turned out well especially as the workshop and exhibition Losing Ground happened a couple of weeks ago. So, I have blown bubbles to look at the idea of a hole within a hole and explore the particular micro-climate inside the hole. I have hummed in conjunction with the space, the outside noises – mostly birds and with Linda to set up extraordinary resonances. This work is crucial to my current research. Together we have counted caterpillars and investigated their behaviour, who knew that caterpillars could show anger and how they did it. I saw the sunrise from the hole this morning and made sound-songs in response to the outside of the hole rather than inside. All this maps onto my giant mind map and links things together as well as creating unexpected relationships. There are exciting times ahead.
If the physicality of the now is where I am, sitting at a table in a university library writing proposals, blogs, admin. stuff whilst listening to snuffles and wheezes of others, then it would be hard to sustain at any great length. What makes the now for me is where my mind is. It is wandering over the landscape of the place of the submission I have just completed, it is thinking about playing ‘with my toys’ in the studio and it is planning future art acts. The development of an artist is a cornucopia of multiple ideas that simultaneously meld together hopefully becoming fully coherent.
What is happening now is exhibitions, proposals and writing. Currently exhibiting at Thresholds: an adjacent possible until Feb. 18th at The Tapestry, Liverpool whilst Five Years On opens this Thursday at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and continues until May. Writing up research, called Urban Flows and Non-flows, for an Italian sound book. The unwieldy mass of recordings done in four different cities is waiting to be deeply analysed with regard to its philosophical interpretation of social space.
But being in the studio is what actually holds it together I think. When I was a child, my father would plonk me next to the stove in his joiner’s workshop redolent with the smell of rabbit glue bubbling away. Providing me with hammer and nails and often string or rubber bands, I eventually learnt how to stretch bands over the nails to make a sound. I decided I would try a grown up version this week. However, there is nothing grown up about it except I didn’t hit my thumb with the hammer. The sound, the first unadulterated twanging and the second an edited piece, can be heard at:
What is the value of this, well, currently have no idea but you never know. ‘Now’ carries its traces forward.
Image: Jackie Berridge
Reading from my last post of my intermittent blog, I now find myself sitting in front of a log fire rather than the sun of Saskatoon. The rain is torrential and the river is rising. A great day for art admin. and thinking about past work. Coming back from Saskatoon and the eventful summer, I am more than ever convinced that I am a different artist. I have determined that I will use the Autumn to build on these experiences making sure I capitalise on them rather than rushing ahead. Making links and connections between people and things has been a theme and last weekend did a collaborative performance with artist, Louise Garland for open studios. Projecting an image onto a stretched canvas, we systematically painted it out using rollers and grey tones over the course of two days. Comments varied but it was great fun and brought unexpected results.
I came back from Canada thinking I was a different artist to what I was, then I wasn’t quite sure how. Now, I realise it has been like a coming of age, many years too late in the traditional sense but as an artist, I am still quite young. My growing in confidence has to do not with earning money from my practice ( that would be too much to ask!) but the feeling that I know what I am doing. Again, it is not the end result that matters but the way that it is carried out, an experimental practice unafraid of the challenge. My work has improved through sheer bloody-mindedness, tenacity and will power, the constant nibbling away at things until they come right. The image shows my work Encountering/It is as it was installed site-specifically in Cagliari, Italy. It worked really well and loved the way people crept in corners to listen to stories.