The project After support from an a-n  Review bursary for professional development, I have secured ACE funding for a project to explore making 2d drawings into 3d forms.

This blog will follow the project as it evolves documenting my development and progress as an artist. I hope to record my feelings and findings as I mature through managing and leading Revolution and Resonance 2017. This project builds on my experience to date both as an artist and as a professional, it will give me an opportunity to really focus on my practice development, aligning everything I do as something that supports me and the work I have set out to make.   In the past is has been very natural to become side tracked and broaden out ideas quickly, this while in a phase of creative exploration is perfectly reasonable, is not helpful when developing work. A second phase of distillation though thought process and physical process (both interlinked)  is paramount to moving forward with clarity and purpose.

I am someone who constantly likes to add new things into the mix, so to limit myself is an opportunity I have found works really well when I need to progress. The fact I have a mentor, Judith Alder for the 6 month duration of the project is key to my staying on track as well as very useful for nuts and bolts organisation, an objective and experienced view on my actions is as essential as breath to breathing.

I will be working with willow artist, Annemarie O’Sullivan who will teach me and help me understand the natural materials I am using. Expanding my skills and encouraging me to develop ideas in the materials available will enrich my practice in specific and deliberate ways.

Project management. In order to document the process of making the structures together with Ashburnham Place volunteers and Hastings employment project trainees I will think about what I want to record and practically how much I can afford from my budget from a videographer. Writing a brief and discussing this is the what  I am currently working on along with setting up a timeline meeting with the staff at Ashburnham Place to work out potential site issues and identify how best to communicate. I have set up a time sheet and have added the ACE logo to my website  and email footer. Further tasks include updating my axisweb page, my blogger account and writing a short visual presentation to Ashburnham staff to introduce the project. Ashburnham Place is the project partner providing site, volunteers and staff support.

Drawing in 3D.  I have started making a maquette a day to begin the exploration of the form in a scale that is manageable and affordable. I am uploading these to my Instagram  account. These individual works will inform the development of the bigger final structures to be made and placed in the landscape.


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I am now recording (with permission) conversations with friends which cover aspects of my practice that I want to research, the recordings are a not only a great way for me to revisit good ideas and thoughts but also to become accustomed to the sound of my voice. A number of close friends have suggested I record myself talking about work over the last few months perhaps as a desperate ploy to stop me talking to them! Seriously though, I am finding it valuable to save and remember moments that so often get lost and to capture it for potentially making new work in the future. The cadence and flow of conversation is interesting with different people – energy changes and habits play out. With groups of people conversation ripples, and over flows or crescendos then stops abruptly.

I had my 5th mentoring session with Judith Alder and we sat in the studio space I used for the residency at Ashburnham Place, rain showering heavily outside and the sound of the weir roaring in the distance.  We talked of recording voice, falling into traps, endings, new ideas, research, plans and artistic gamboling habits with open submission competitions.

One of my recent conversations was with a good friend, Vanessa Marr and I have her to thank for suggesting that over the next couple of months (allowing for school holiday madness and Ashburnham Place being closed to the public for a few weeks) I should take every opportunity to research the hell out of the sculpture….

So after discussing this with Judith, a plan is in place and I am testing out filming under water. Some surprisingly good results hvae come immediately, the camera I am using is very basic and annoyingly decided to have a hissy fit overnight and so would only turn on and record or turn off….so, grateful for these essential functions still functioning I dipped and dangled it in the lake aplenty.

I also tried floating paper and wire drawing on and in the lake.

The paper roll was fun because it started immediately unfurling when it touched the surface of the water and then slowly continued to unravel out into the lake.

I will go out next in a boat to the sculpture with the camera and a homemade contraption to use to control its position under water so I can film underneath the floating raft.

I will also take a length of string a split ring and a weight to attach it to the anchor rope and film it descending into the depths. I expect it will get too dark to see anything at some point but that will be interesting in itself and to see how deep this occurs and whether it will pick up the anchor at the bottom.

I cannot swim out to the sculpture in the middle of the lake due to insurance restrictions but I may be able to tow the sculpture to the swimming area and investigate further there if necessary.

The line of water half way across the lens is very seductive and gives a real sense of surface as a place in between. I am curious how to investigate surface and have only thought of floating other things on it, including myself and filming from that level. The images so far look strange as the perspective changes a lot when you are placed at water surface level, light and dark are much more extreme and it seems vast so scale is altered and somewhat reversed as the banks of the lake look small and the sloshes and ripples look like huge waves.

The other down side of the camera is that the water proof case has a ring to attach string to on the bottom so all the film so far is upside down…perhaps quite fitting given the reversal of scale and the other worldly quality of the surface.

I also have cleared out the studio space and it is looking very photogenic again so made some basic oak strip drawings in the space, partly because Judith and I had talked about the possibility of bringing the sculpture back to the drawing starting point, in some ways the starting point is outside where it is floating but also I did make lots of rotational drawings in the studio so it made sense.

We were curious to know if the scale of the work would look small in a confined space or large. So taking 6m strips of oak into the old pump house was also to see how they curved and pushed out against the walls – in initially they hung down the steps and pressed up against the back wall and then I played with hanging them over the beams and looping them along the back wall

One of them snapped in the process and that gave me different sizes to work with. I really liked the simplicity of the final two circles against the whitewash – the oak is a natural fit in that environment and the natural light is easy to work with.

More experiments to come as the researching the hell out of the sculpture continues!


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I was so privileged to show many friends, colleagues and arts professionals my work at an event I called Resonance, we had stunning weather and it began with taking visitors out in 2 rowing boats, 4 in each boat to view the work up close and to get a sense of being on the water where the drawing was initially inspired. People and their families came in droves, there were queues for the boats!


I ran a workshop teaching how to start a basic weave in the way I had started the final piece and most of the maquettes, 18 people had a go and made some interesting 3d forms.

We had a BBQ and drank prosecco in the sun, which was so dazzling and bright we couldn’t see the film Anna Winter had made of the construction process until very late. It’s now on my website felicitytruscott.

I recorded conversations with people in the boats and after the dramatic rescue of the work, stuck in reeds downstream from high winds the week before I had plenty of stories to tell. It’s really hard to get a sense of the event here but I felt I had to mention it, what is difficult to convey is the atmosphere and fun that we all had, there was so much laughter and new experiences from rowing and having to brave the rocking rowing boats writing a blog doesn’t come near so go to my website for a short snippet of one of the conversations … its just like a sketch unfinished,  strands of speech overlap rippling across each other. I have started recording conversations and listening back which is a very interesting thing to do, it has the effect of getting me used to heating my voice, of hearing speech pattern and of some things I miss because I am distracted momentarily. I like the cadence of conversation it reveals who is listening and who is not. I want to be able to use this somehow but I am not sure in what way yet. Hidden beneath the surface, beneath the reflection.

Talking is something I have always done a lot of! Recently a few people have said try recording yourself instead of writing and as I get braver I will do this more and more and interesting things will happen such as this:

Part of a conversation I had today with a friend and Drink and Draw curator Jane Runchman resulted in me deciding to start burying things…Jane messaged early in the morning announcing we should go to a field and create something…so after discussion about all sorts of things including being at a cross roads, death, burrowing and Becky Beasley we decided to find a field (non specific at present) and take a shovel….


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I have found it incredibly difficult choosing images thinking of where they are going to be placed. Should I choose according to what people might be most likely to buy or want. Or stick to my favourites. My favourites have up to now always been about the work on its own as a form. But I have come to realise that it’s the process and the story of making the work that is most interesting and most accessible to people … it is me the artist that is interested in the interpretation of form or context or material and their relationships. Others can interpret these in terms of understanding their own inner thoughts or just as an interesting technical achievement.
Selecting images putting work in public spaces that feels ….like a compromise it feels like I’ve sold out – it’s like the ‘take away’ part of the art… I am thinking about the way big galleries also monetise art with shop products Hockney mugs, Blow cushions and even dungarees! I decided to do this residency 2 years ago because of getting fed up of galleries making me feel like I had to come up with something saleable, or telling me they were going to curate the work but then putting all of it up like a market place.
I wanted to gain control and integrity and so I have to choose how necessary it is to a) make some £ b) for the work to be seen in context c) place work where people visit for other reasons.
If I am receiving public funding there is less pressure to sell work, but it is better to try to develop ways of supporting myself other than public funding, and I said as much in my application, in reality of course these ways are not sufficient on their own, nor is the temporary nature of public funding but they do provide a framework of support to build over time. In an environment where there are no clear career paths it is a constant challenge and the agencies that have helped me are Arts Council England, a-n.co.uk, Axisweb and local artists network Blue Monkey (Towner Gallery) providing professional support where they can. Yet I still need more! It seems to me the more I do the more I need further support with as it involves breaking new ground. Is this the same for other artists I wonder?
The commercial side of making art is a real drag, it’s a completely different skill set. It’s about what the market wants not what the artist is pursuing. Getting the balance right is the main thing I think. The dependency of artist in relation to work, to funder, to consumer the anchor must always be the work or the artistic practice, then the funder supports that on the surface and the consumer takes the image or experience away. That’s how I want to keep it.


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It floats and drifts on Broadwater lake in an environment designed by Capability Brown it has been described as ‘majestic’ and like an ‘electron spinning around’…

Wow! I am so pleased with this project and what I have learned so far, I have had to problem solve all along the way, finding new materials and sources when what I had planned to use was no longer available, finding an anchor, finding enough rope, learning how to tie an anchor knot, getting the form to change shape by soaking it in the lake and rolling it around on the grass virtually ‘zorbing’ on it! Volunteers helping and getting equipment, rowing in a boat whilst making adjustments, discovering muscles I didn’t know I had, making a raft and finding ways to stabilize the raft with an uneven form on top – putting more air in the form of empty 4 pint milk bottles strung under the raft once out on the lake, as the rain had pelted down and soaked the base of the sculpture …and I could go on and on.

One of the many exciting things I have learned from making this giant oak form is that I have a new reference framework which encompasses so many potential ideas I already have and might develop. I have to thank mentor Judith Alder for her perceptive questioning and listening skills for this!

What became apparent making the form was the dependency between the form and the anchor and what was in between. This is something I want to pursue in more work, since my mum died recently I have been thinking a lot about what lies unseen under the ground and a sense of re composting below. I am working in an exhibition of trees (De La Warr Pavilion) where tree houses are the subject of a beautiful book to assist with audience engagement, they fascinate me as they are anchored through the roots of the tree and then reach the sky where the tree house dweller can go and experience another ‘state of being’ transcending our earthly world. We can dream, reflect be whoever we want to be in this world of possibility – our vision has been raised we have a new perspective. I love the idea they are our original architecture, pillars reaching into the sky.

So I think I have made a significant leap with my work where I understand a visual framework of reference particular to my own practice, not borrowed or appropriated, an anchor which is more resilient than just aesthetic or observation it gives me something to bite on and gives me a path to follow.

What I want to do now is take some time exploring this through using new materials. I have done a short course in metal with Andrew Revell and this was really fun, I would like to get some new skills under my belt using London Sculpture Workshop to give me confidence and again some stronger resilience to challenges and problems I will definitely keep encountering as I work intuitively in new spaces maybe still on water and with new materials.


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A couple of weeks after I constructed the oak structure and rowed forth with it in tow onto the lake I am deep in other work and slightly panicking that I am not making the most of the artwork I have just created. There hasn’t even been time really to flop and pat myself on the back as frequently I have also had to visit the site adjusting the listing raft due to some rather inclement weather. This is what happens when using a natural material on a temporary form in a hand built woven fashion. Ha! That’ll teach me.

Last Friday I went back with the only person I could find willing to get into a wet suit on the side of the lake on the understanding that the only way to currently retrieve the anchor is to swim with the eels…she knows no fear.

I have just had another meeting with my mentor Judith Alder who is being incredibly supportive and asking all the right awkward questions. We discussed ‘post making’ administration – these are the issues that are bugging me, how do I make the most of this opportunity. It seems that this is where the business head needs to kick in which is a bit of a mental shift after building up to the momentous creative level of confidence required to make a big piece of work outdoors that actually floats.

We discussed project documentation (film and photography) and the need to take control of the project at every step anticipating gaps where possible and when failing to – storing that information away so I remember next time. There is also the issue that it’s not possible to get it all right all of the time. With my documentation so far I have missed getting interviews with volunteers during the construction phase but this can be fixed by re negotiation with the videographer to record responses to questions that I neglected to think of originally and can introduce at the Resonance event in June. The event involves offering boat trips on the lake to talk about the work along with a workshop to make 3-dimensional forms, a fire pit and BBQ with specially composed sound. The Blue Monkey network are coming as their June event.

Again the issue of going back to the application and what I said I would do is raised like the inevitable anchor I need to reflect and remind myself I am not alone, I am walking alongside my own words in what I set out to achieve in my proposal, this is reassuring.

We discussed evaluation and how useful it is as a two-way process, providing the professional language for the next project base on which to form. This is very exciting to me as it bookends the project with the application itself and provides logical continuity.

 

 

 


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