I am starting this blog to document the process of my virtual artist in residence at BasementArtsProject in Leeds. In place of what would have been a physical exhibition to celebrate 10 years of BasementArt’s existence, we opted to do a virtual project that could get people involved in a way that would take them away from their zoom screens and out into the world a bit. The project I have come up with for this residency and exhibition is both an experimental departure as well as a reflective return within my practice. During the past 10 years my work has meandered between performance installation and participatory art through to the more solitary practice of painting. The current project introduces two new elements that have been sitting on the fringes of my practice for some time, but have never been fully nurtured: collage and sound.
My project explores individual experiences of sonic environments through mark-making, and I am inviting people to get involved in the process by doing some drawing, and recording some sound. The invitation is open to anyone who is interested to take part, so perhaps you, dear reader, may wish to take part too? The idea is to create a drawing of the sound you hear in a location of your choice, with your eyes closed, and press record on something that can record sound. The exercise involves using the physical art of making marks on paper as a way of tuning in to the sonic environment around you. Think doodling whilst on the phone rather than representational art; Rather than drawing a bird if you hear bird song, just tune in to the sound and allow your drawing tool to trace and interpret the textures and rhythms of what you hear as marks on paper.
I intend to use images of these drawings to create a digital collage – a kind of collective ‘map’ of multiple layers of marks and textures; and the sound recordings as samples to create an audio collage/ piece of music in multiple fragments. I intend to work with the textures and patterns that emerge in both the recordings and the drawings, looking for similarities and differences, to create both visual and sonic collages. These two elements will be presented together in a virtual exhibition space, which visitors will be able to walk around as if taking a journey through an imagined landscape.
To give a little background context; 10 years ago, almost to the day, was the opening reception of BasementArtsProject, a creative centre tucked away in the basement of a terraced house in South Leeds. It was my pleasure to be invited to make something for the opening exhibition. I wanted to create something that marked the unique nature of this art space as both a family house and a public facing gallery. I was really interested in the interplay between public and private, and the cosy togetherness of a gallery experience. For that exhibition I created a dolls house sized scale model of the house, which contained a small video on an ipod screen of the Davies family sitting on their couch repeating the words “this is our house”. When visitors arrived at the opening event, I recorded them saying the words “I am in this house”, and took a photo of them. The photos were immediately printed out and hung on strings around the dolls house, and the audio recordings entered a bank of loops where all voices mingled together on small speakers throughout the basement. For me the point of this work was really to mark what was happening at the time, to reflect on the fact that everyone was there together an an art event in a house, and how that in itself was special.
As the BasementArtsProject is now starting its 11th year, and to go ahead with the exhibition despite the current restrictions, it was decided to reflect on this moment by calling the current exhibition ‘We Are Still Here’. I wanted to create a reference to that first project I did there in 2011, partly as a way of acknowledging the journey of BasementArtsProject, but also as a way of looking back on my own creative practice over these years and how my work has changed. With the current project I see an opportunity to revisit earlier works, whilst bringing new energy and different directions.
Thus far I have created a scale model of the BasementArtsProject’s basement using the free online platform ArtSteps. The link to this will be revealed on 2nd April. The work will develop and evolve throughout April. I will be updating continuously as and when I receive new drawing and sound submissions. Artsteps has some really nice functions where you can add sound files to images as well as offering a guided tour which also plays sound at specific point. I am intending to use these functions to allow multiple layers of sound to be clicked and played, and a guided tour to create a narrative with both images and sound.
I will be creating this project entirely with the materials which are submitted and I hope to gather material from all around the world. So please, if this speaks to you and you would like to have a go at the sound drawing, please have a look at my website where I give more detailed instructions and a link to a google form to upload your materials.
I’ll be updating this blog throughout the course of the project, so do check in to see the progress! :)