One of the main projects I have been working on this year has been Exchange Residency North.
Earlier in the year I secured local funding though the Highland Visual Artist and Craft Makers Awards for a project I had been developing since moving here last year. When I first moved here, I started to look for other local emerging contemporary artists to network and collaborate with. I found this to be quite a different experience from living in a larger city – these two things seem to happen in different ways for a number of reasons: travel issues, distances between people, (sometimes) lack of local support, less events to naturally meet at to name a few. I felt that instead of applying for funding to make a body of new work and exhibit it, my organisational and collaborative side of my practice would be better developed in using funding to pull together artists like me to explore rural and urban identities and look at how artists network and collaborate in places like this where I now lived.
One of the areas I have been developing with my mentor Susan, is writing proposals and setting budgets. It was really encouraging to see this application successfully received – and this project was an ideal opportunity to see if my budget estimations were correct and how the project as a whole would pan out, from what I had originally planned.
Alongside looking at artists and how we work where we are, I felt there was real scope to involve and learn from the communities in which we live. I was keen that although the plan was for a group of artists to work together for a week, that it would be accessible to all. I devised a loose schedule which was open to work on really anything (I kept the output as undefined so we could all own it) but interspersed with particular events. Events included artist presentations, where we all had a chance to present our work to each other and the public. This was extremely beneficial in learning the similarities and interests and ways of working, which really aided in the development of the week. We had a roundtable discussion – having researched some suitable texts on the themes we would be investigating, these were shared with the group and presented and discussed informally in an open event. It felt really good and relevant to have a critical and contextual focus behind the other investigative work and collaborative outputs we had on the go. Lastly we had a closing event where we had the opportunity to present the work we had done over the week and reflect on possible next steps for the project – I had always thought of it being open ended, that the weeklong residency would be a starting point for other activity.
Next, I’ll write a more reflective piece to discuss the project in more detail. Although this sort of task can sometimes seem a little tiresome, I feel it is important to give time and importance to reflective activity so we are not just stuck in a routine of working through ideas and projects without looking and their success, failures and potential alternative routes of investigation.