Reflecting on the experience, New Art West Midlands really did help me continue my artistic practice after my Graduate Residency, and gave me many different opportunities however big or small. It also gave me the opportunity to work on such a large scale, something I enjoy.
The opening night for the New Art West Midlands 2017 was held at the mac, and was extremely busy! I sadly missed the group photograph with all of the artists taking part despite setting off two hours earlier (traffic southbound on the M6 had other plans for me). However it was a very successful opening night.
Another very welcome opportunity arose through taking part, as I was awarded one of one of the five New Art West Midlands opportunity awards. Again, this was so unexpected as I felt there were so many strong and exciting artworks being exhibited.
I was an awarded a graduate commission through Salt Road the Treeline project, funded by ACE. I am one of six artists taking part, artists based in Birmingham, Stoke, the West Midlands and Manchester. You can find out more here.
‘’It’s only when we understand the meaning of ‘enough’ that we start to accumulate real wealth. As in nature, ‘enough’ gets the job done well; doing or having more than we need wastes time, resources, and ultimately, our lives”. Andy Middleton 2016
When our politicians dismiss global environmental change as the weather continues to rise to record levels each year, we have to ask ourselves: What are we going to do about the biggest threat to human civilisation and the natural world since the invention of the atomic bomb? Although we are part of nature we believe that being civilised means being separate and protected from it. Are the effects of global warming closing the cultural gap between us and the physical world of nature? If art can help us to humanise the world we live in, can it help us to deal with global environmental change and to be better humans?
Once I am up to speed with updating my blog, I will be posting about my ideas and work that I have developed over the last several months for this project.
A long overdue post…
After completing my Graduate residency at AirSpace Gallery, and working on my work for a while, I decided to take the plunge and apply for New Art West Midlands 2017. I did not feel confident enough to apply the year before, but I decided what did I really have to lose this time around?
I submitted some of my favourite works from University, along with work created during my residency at AirSpace in my application. The artist statement I submitted with my images:
“In examining how we classify and organise the natural world, I consider how this affects our understanding of our environment. I create drawings that adopt the traditional conventions and methods of scientific and botanical illustration, adapting them to present my fictional hybrids and specimens. Using the space between fact and fiction, I present these specimens within my drawings as if they were encountered in some otherworldly environment, and then observed and studied by the explorer who discovered them. I deliberately omit scientific accuracy in favour of this ambiguity; how do we classify these specimens? Are they plant, animal? The specimens elude classification and our ideas of taxonomy, and appear to be a result of wanton scientific experimentation; almost as if they are grafted together in a rogue taxidermist’s workshop. Genetic modification, evolution gone wrong, what could have created these alien specimens?
I also use sculpture as another way for me to consider these concepts. When using clay, I create objects that have raw, animated characteristics while still retaining their handmade qualities. The evidence of the clay being shaped by my hand is left on the surface of the clay. I also create objects and artefacts from natural materials, such as plant matter, pressed flowers, butterfly wings, imagining that these objects could have been found alongside the specimens in this otherworldly environment. Did they build these objects? Live in them? Emerge from them? Installation is another method I employ within my work, as a way for me to blur the lines between my drawing and sculpture, combining them together to create works that look at the idea of an explorer collecting these strange objects and artefacts, the drawings they have made and the research they have gathered. These
are ways for me to consider the idea of a precarious nature, one that cannot easily be classified accurately or with any certainty.”
I then waited nervously for a while, however after not hearing anything for a while I thought maybe I had been unsuccessful. One day I started getting notifications on Facebook and messages from family – I had actually missed the email in my inbox, and I had been selected to exhibit in NAWM 2017. Even now it still feels slightly unreal, for want of a better word, that I was selected. I also found out that I would be exhibiting in two venues, mac Birmingham and Wolverhampton Museum and Art Gallery, which was even more of a surprise.
Wolverhampton Museum and Art Gallery wished to exhibit my work ‘The Entomologist’s Collection’, 2016,from my solo exhibition The Alien Bestiary at AirSpace Gallery. At the mac they wanted me to recreate a drawing installation I created while at university, ‘Botanical Hybrids’, 2014, which involved drawings created directly onto the walls, and an drawing coming out into the space on a continuous roll of tracing paper.
As the exhibition draw closer, I spent a week traveling to and from the mac to create my installation, I had created the tracing paper drawing at home the week before so I could use the time to create the wall drawings. The install at Wolverhampton was much simpler, with already having created the work previously it was just a matter of pinning up the individual photocopies to create a similar layout while it was exhibited in AirSpace Gallery, reminiscent of how entomology collections are displayed.
It was wonderful to be able to work on such a large scale, the size of the space that was given to me was a much welcome surprise when I arrived on day 1 to start creating the work. You can see this in the first image in the gallery. To be able to recreate a work from university was also a good experience for me, as I was able to see how the ideas from the first work had transformed and developed over the two to three years as I created this second version of the work, in addition to how my ideas and concepts had matured in my practice as a whole.
I will add to these reflections in another post.
It has been a long while since I last posted here – while I hadn’t forgotten about the blog, I could never seem to find time time to post (or at least that is what I told myself!)
I figure now is a good of a time as any to get back into posting on my blog again!
A lot has happened since my last post where I eluded to some “exciting news” that I will give it’s own blog post, as now it has been nearly a year I can reflect on my experiences in more depth there.
However, here is a quick summary of the time between my last update and now:
- Selected for New Art West Midlands and exhibited in two locations
- Moved in to a new studio space (I am still based in AirSpace Gallery)
- Won an award through New Art West Midlands – a commissioned artist/residency for the Treeline project (more on this in another post!)
- 2017 Open Studio’s at AirSpace Gallery
- I got engaged! (Not art related, but a very happy moment!)
- A new job! Although it is full time, an office job now means I have a lot more free time as I am not catching up on sleep / spending days recovering after a busy shift in the Hotel restaurant. Evenings and weekends are now mine!
MISALIGNED – AirSpace Studio Exhibition 2016
August 12th to 27th, 2016
MISALIGNED is a showcase of new work from the AirSpace Studio holders, which explores constructions and compositions, processes and procedures, rules and rituals. We live in a world full of structures, ones we can see and ones we cannot. But what happens when these are challenged? What sort of world do we find ourselves in?
Misaligned features work from: Chloe Ashley, Emilie Atkinson, Kat Boon, Kyle Cartlidge, Kornelia Herms, Joyce Iwaszko, Jenna Naylor, Peter R Smith and Sarah Thorley.
For Misaligned, the AirSpace Studio Artists will consider the notion of structure, questioning the variety of connotations that are associated with the idea. For some of the group, this relates explicitly to their surroundings. Architecture, nature and the objects that inhabit our immediate environments lead to a consideration of material structures and how these can be challenged or subverted within the artists’ practices. Alternatively, other members of the Studio regard structure as a reference to the abstract, or systems that are implemented within our society. These range from frequently questioned and scrutinised political and social structures, to the immaterial data and technological structures that have dramatically transformed our existence.
Ultimately, this group exhibition aims to examine the assortment of structures that inhabit our lives, observing the methods in which we often misalign from these constructions and configurations.
During the summer, I was involved in a group exhibition held at AirSpace Gallery, involving all of the Studio holders. It was a successful exhibition, that helped my development of my work that I had started during my residency there, before I stayed at the gallery as a studio holder. It came at the perfect time to bridge the time between finishing my residency and now, and gave me a platform for me to develop my work further.
Why do animals and insects build their own structures and what could be their purpose? Are they building nests for shelter, or a safe place for metamorphosis from one life cycle to the next? Or have we yet to discover the real reason as to why they build their structures?
I didn’t expect to take such an extended break from posting on my blog here, I found out my membership expired and I simply forgot to renew it until last month! I’ve now severed all ties from being “the student”, I now have an Artist membership here since my last membership was as a student. It’s a strange feeling knowing that I graduated over a year ago now!
Several things have happened since my last post (back in May!), some very exciting things as well! I’ll leave those to write about in their own blog posts. Since this is my first blog entry in several months, I thought I’d share some images of my studio.
It’s taken me quite a while to settle into the studio, I’ve been in there for six months now and I’m still making it feel like “my space”. I’ve always taken a while to settle into new spaces, while at university we’d change spaces every year, and it would take me about half of that time to relax fully in each space.
One thing I love about my studio space is the light, particularly when it’s a sunny day!