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.


Immortalizing the sculpture – death is part of life.

The humanity of ‘process’ – the cycle of a project starts from an ending, a death of sorts. I gave up working in the way I had been and started with no clear agenda, just to ‘play’ and discover new ideas, sparks for beginnings. Looking back, my struggles seem trivial and I am tempted to minimalise them. This was a mental challenge which surprised me with its mix of stealth and ferocity at times, my paralyzing fear of the unfamiliar and my own pressure of needing a result or some measure of success.

I was getting used to standing alone and owning the space I was in finding my freedom like a child learning to walk and emerging as an independent being from dependency.

Many poetic things can be said about my experiences during this time. The quality of the elements, temperature, light, silence, movement, noise and nature all contributed to the sense of being in another world. It was my privilege to be gifted this space and time in which to explore. I felt part of a much bigger process and that felt good, I had a place and I had permission to be myself, that was enough.

Then came some clarity and the idea to create a piece of work which would also sit within the landscape in a similar and familiar way. Many smaller cycles evolved within this process; problem solving, applying for money, dealing with making work in a public space, new material and scale and the relational dependency of working with others. All areas of growth and experience which create foundations for life. I added in time to do a bit of research on the floating sculpture I filmed in and around and under the raft and then a straight drop down 4m deep into the lake, measuring the rope, curious to see what we could see in the dark depths these films are the sparks for new work and a new broader more openly inquisitive approach.

It was important to end the project, it was always going to be temporary work but the temptation to hang on to it remained. Oak is tough and enduring and on the face of it could have withstood more exposure outdoors. However, I needed to start a new phase, and this meant an ending, an absence was necessary. So, at dusk on October 17 I burned the sculpture whilst still floating on the lake and delighted with childish innocence in the merging of elements, air, water and fire. It was a personal moment laced with challenge and disbelief that it would successfully catch alight and burn – I was reliant on my brother’s much practiced pyrotechnic skills executed whilst floating alongside in a rowing boat.

It was my mother who inspired a love of big landscape, challenge and creativity in any form. When I was very young she took me to an illustrated talk the explorer Chris Bonnington was giving about his expedition to climb Mount Everest which fascinated me. There is something arresting about becoming a living part of a great landscape and rising to the challenges that entails. Later in life she enabled me to travel every part of the South Island in New Zealand with her at 72 years and my youngest child, then a 2 year old. So I would like to dedicate this project to her memory: a great maker of things herself, she would have absolutely loved hearing, reading and seeing every minute of it unfold.

Jane Micklethwaite 26.9.39 – 17.11.16


Below, surface and above interwoven relationships

I have put up work I made on the residency at Ashburnham and am quietly chuffed if not a little surprised with the professional way I have hung it and the environment it is in. Work made and exhibited in the environment where it has been created genuinely seems to have a deeper resonance with the colours the textures and the invisible energies of a place.

During the summer in France I loved the freedom to be in a place without recent or creative history for me it was warm and welcoming, wild and creative, it was generously given by friend and artist Claire and her family, without complication of expectation.

Annemarie O’Sullivan’s teaching is the same – generous. I went to learn how to make a basket – I wanted to learn a skill to create better 3d forms. My maquettes were fun but had got as far as they could without more skill. Annemarie provides time and space without limit, no rushing, just acceptance and interest, generosity too is a skill and I want to learn that. To receive it is like being given a long cool drink in a hot desert gradually you become aware of your surroundings and not your discomforts, you are free to look outwards to grow.

I have signed up for a two-year course in basketry at City Lit to learn how to make things that don’t ultimately fall apart. I want to learn construction methods that use materials that are reachable (more than metal and its technical and expensive requirements) I want to play with learning the rules and then breaking them or adapting them, using different materials once I have acquired a new language of line describing space. It feels very very exciting, not something I EVER thought I would say about basket making!

This is a somewhat unexpected outcome of Revolution and Resonance but a very fitting one. It builds on knowledge and experimentation I have gained through doing the project and fulfils a need to learn a generic set of skills that will enable me to play and experiment at a new level in the future. It also provides me with a source of potential income making baskets as I practice or perhaps an endless supply of gifts to my friends…beware.

People have been a very important part of my support and learning throughout this project – I feel privileged to have received their time and unconditional support, it has been a strongly nurturing process and this helps me see the whole, the gestalt as a life changing opportunity I can embrace this as my mentors Judith Alder and Annemarie are my role models I admire their ways of working and philosophy. As my mum died this time last year, this role modelling is an essential part of the process of becoming independent again a bit like when I first left home. I am learning more of what I want to do or to be like for me this is an integral element of ‘being’ an artist, it is about who I am and who I believe I am as a person as much as it is about the work and the ideas.

These relationships that we depend on, the hidden and personal, how we interact on the surface and what external factors influences the work.

Below, surface and above – interwoven relationships are all potential ‘drawn’ lines to explore I think I may be beginning to understand what my practice is about.

September and the Sculpture has eased into a new form changed over a season by the elements…




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!

1 Comment

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….


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,, 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.