Swifts: A Virtual Residency
Day 1: Monday
Today we started this short 3-day virtual residency. All working in our individual studios we meet three times in the day. Here are our individual reflections and thoughts from the day’s actions and events.
Today I have been working on three paintings concurrently and slowly finding my rhythm, enjoying the natural light in the studio from the warm summery sunshine. I have been thinking about colour decisions that I make during the process of painting and why I make these decisions. Why do I prefer some colours over others? Shapes are starting to break down within the depicted forms in the paintings. I am seeing them more as separate geometric fragments; however, each of the shards are connected through their colour tonal values. This is apparent in one of the paintings depicting a form that is reminiscent to a hat. These thoughts on colour were initiated through the earlier lunch time break-out sessions with Lucy Renton and Sue Withers.
A calligraphy pen is used to scrawl down abstract narratives, as black ink is applied to a roll of cheap, cream paper. The awkwardness of writing in this way focuses the mind, the process of articulation slowed enough to allow the words to form. Where the words arrive from I do not know; they spill from my subconscious on to the page by way of the black liquid suspended on the nib of my pen. Many years have passed since I last wrote with ink. The increased efficiency of tools such as the ballpoint or keyboard have enabled me to keep up with a quickened existence. But the demand for quick thinking shortens the attention span, and the feeling of inky fingers as I admire the words interspersed by dark smudges and drips reveals the benefits of prolonging modes of thinking.
Today was a good grounding for where I want to be – focused on making artwork, both in writing and drawing. I spent a good part of the morning grounding myself back into thoughts and reflection I’ve had previously around the for ongoing project in which I’m focusing on Fryn Tennyson Jesse. It was good to revisit thoughts and refresh ideas. To questions previous decisions and assumptions. To get started – even though I’m sure this starting point is mostly crap – it has started. The process is always hard at frist, then rubbish is created then I get some interesting stuff before moving on to perhaps the good or almost good stuff. It is a process that needs to be gone through although each time is it hard to start. I do trust the process even though each time it is still hard to get started. I have now, started. Tomorrow I hope will flow easier.
Space Exploration. The day started with a meeting of the artists and a minute of quiet and appreciation of the moment and the spaces we were in. This residency seems to be all about space for me at the start; going back into my studio space after months of lockdown, a short space away from my academic job that has been crazy busy in the last few months, a space for my head to readjust, my eyes to refocus on something other than a screen, a space to talk, discuss, reflect and explore some ideas that have been locked down like me since March.
I’ve started with a production line of primed canvas shapes that I’m intending to paint and manipulate in a development of a previous work ‘Blown’. I want to make a stock of elements I can build into a larger work, and this repetitive templating, cutting and priming allows me head space to consider ways in which this might go, and a comforting reintroduction to my studio. At the end of day one, the floor is covered with nearly 100 white pieces drying overnight, waiting for their transformative coats of colour.
Livvy Penrose Pennett:
In my studio, day one of the Swifts Virtual residency, I have been arranging photos, digital and medium format with fields from rave’s, fields from childhood, and fields from University exploring, all together. Projecting slides over the top and adding glass, I reflected on how this familiar set up is what I’ve come to know my studio as, I remember when it was new.
Each field seems to be an open book until you reach the edge with your eye. Here it can disappear into green darkness, fog, mist and obscurity. These edges are hotspots of biodiversity, harbouring all kinds of wildlife and flora. These edges of green that hold on to the dew the longest are relatively recent arrivals, from the 18th century enclosure acts which parcelled up lands and stopped access. I’m not sure how this makes me feel about something I thought was so eternal. But this is my focus over the next few days along with reading reflecting and coming back to my studio space after what feels like a long time this time.
Thinking about bubbles, bobbles, balls and balloons, searching for the unanticipated, the ridiculous or extraordinary amongst the familiar and commonplace.
I’m enjoying the tension between the inflated, the deflated and the gravitational pull of sand filled balloons, but need to play more with scale to find something unexpected. The udder-like sand filled forms seem too polite, and need to be more pendulous, more extreme.
I had been planning to work with some furry hats, but instead came across a collection of bobble hats. The combination of the woolly bobbles protruding from both the top and underside of the seat, the hats ‘worn’ by balloons seem more satisfyingly incongruous, so some progress, perhaps.
Later, I finally taught myself to blow a bubble-gum bubble, first in the conventional way, then using a balloon pump. Time well spent!