Am now into the second week of my residency at Ilam Park. It has been refreshing to be based out of doors in spectacular scenery and, so far, sunny weather.
Ilam Park is a National Trust property which has been highly influential in the development of the picturesque landscape in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It has been culturally important as well – visits by William Gilpin, Thomas Whately and Samuel Johnson recorded the landscape, promoting ideas of good taste in the landscape and design as well as pushing the idea that such landscapes imbedded good character in the people who responded well to them.
Gilpin rough notes of 1772 state
“Nature, in short, has been profuse of her charms to Ilam and art has well supported her.”
So I have a lot to live up to – cripes.
I have spent a lot of time going through maps and documents, discovering places old and new as well as recording visitors conversations about what/why they come to Ilam.
I have re-discovered and am starting to walk and document the ‘lost roads’ as well as photograph original views. I have run a children’s workshop with year 8 from a school in central Nottingham and have spent time with a local art group as well.
I am building up quite a portfolio of information.
Where this will go, who knows, but I certainly feel I am pushing the door upon the idea of Henri Bergosn’s ‘Elan Vital’. ….so who knows….
Time has flown by and I have had a thought provoking and sometimes challenging time at Airspace in Stoke on Trent. I am grateful that I have been able to learn more and more each passing day as well as to have the wee studio in which to reflect and write down/develop ideas. Its been a great gift and opportunity. From construction of the Brownfield Research facility something I have done plenty of times, to the fabricating of an artwork for Vicky Sharples – a first time for me. I have been using previous knowledge to get the best out of my time spent (identifying grasses for Rebecca Chesney – nice for me as a contract scyther and meadow/hay maker and much appreciated to be asked) as well as being open to new ideas – thanks Edward Chell! Producing a piece of work using Evening Primrose flowers and the remains of the ash.
I have been helping build and paint the new Airspace Brownfield Research Centre at Airspace Gallery Stoke on Trent.
It has been interesting and challenging at the same time. I have a reasonable amount of knowledge in building and fabrication work and tool usage.
First of all I was tasked with clearing out old studio spaces and moving past dreams about and putting them into store. Two of the full time resident artists and myself were kept busy for a couple of days. It was good to get to know them and chat about life, the universe and general stuff as we lugged and hauled kit/works and rubbish about. The resulting clear out enabled me to have a small space to engage with my own practice. It amuses me that the height of the studio I am in for the next couple of months is higher, ceiling wise, than its length and breadth! It has a great window though and much more salubrious than The Barn that three of us occupy as an artist led space in rural Cheshire.
Then the fun began: building/fabricating interior walls, lining out and painting. It was good to do. I was surprised at the amount of ‘kit’ available in powered tools that the Gallery owns – my past experience in constructing and reconstructing/renovating anything from old barns to houses has been based on the collected use, sharing and knowledge of human power and traditional hand tools but, in this case the world of electricity was king!
Working in a gallery space which is on a budget requires resourcefulness and imagination. Trust is a big thing here and works well however knowledge sharing is also key and – probably due to my way getting on with things, there have been moments of when the ‘resource of voluntary brought in skills’ (me) has not been used to the gallery’s advantage. I suppose because the staff are so used to working independently that volunteers such as myself can be considered to be a burden in as much as one has to spend time explaining what is required and expected.However I always felt welcome and valued.
I am looking forward to meeting up with the six artists that will be involved in the project and learning about their practice and ideas. It should be an amazing factory!
The idea to have a soup kitchen is not new. Airspace Gallery in Stoke on Trent has been running them for six years. A gathering of artists sit around a square table (the search/action for an egalitarian way of working). An invited Artist introduces the theme of workshop/discussion and so it begins. This one on last Saturday 26 May 1200-1400hrs exactly. Anna Francis, one of the Airspace directors cooks a relevant soup and bread is shared to aid the discussion. Glen Stoker, the other Airspace director hosts the event. Steve and Adam from L13 (AKA Harry Adams) were drivers of this Soup Kitchens discussion:
‘Self Funding, the good the bad and the future’
This was on the back of the Harry Adams show ‘Nothing Remains Unchanged But The Clouds’
After introductions Steve got own with explaining the L13 group’s history and how they have built a business around self funding. A lot of risk taking and visionary actions. A reasonable amount of discussion took place and lots of notes were scribbled down on the paper tablecloth designed for that purpose. Self funding means without help from the Arts Council or other such organisations and it certainly seemed to have worked for them. This system is hard graft and risky but they do tend to sleep at night and do what they want to do. There was also quite a lot of discussion about paid work outside the art world as a means to self funding.
The food was great and delicious and sharing such genders sharing on a greater scale.
As ever these sessions never have quite enough time but I think we all left with a bit more awareness of how we could, as artists make things work and possibly pay.
This return of a critical engagement and professional development event certainly has left us all with plenty more to think about.
Making images from collecting pigments, beeswax and having made charcoal I embarked on these paintings. I had to purchase the blue in a tube, other hues are fabricated by myself. I found this challenging and interesting at the same time. Working on hessian and using rabbit skin size, it isn’t a veggie option but as someone who also has had a life as a land worker it made sense. I am interested in what becomes of memory when you look back on these moments of countryside immersion. Walking/trespassing/collecting. It is an ongoing process.
The square painting is 500x500mm and the long one is 2500x1000mm.