So it has been Over a month since I first started the residency at AirSpace Gallery, and I’ve really enjoyed the experience so far! This first month has not been as productive in terms of actual art making than I would have first thought, however a lot of research and idea gathering has been going on, and I now have some solid ideas that I can progress with in month two! I need to stop thinking productivity only means art making, my thought process is just as important to my working process. Another realisation is that I cannot seem to get into the studio as much as I first hoped… life seems to have a habit of stopping me (that, and insomnia). However a lot of what I have been doing has been done at home or outside of the studio. This is the month where I can be really productive and start bringing my ideas into physical artworks.
After having my monthly meeting with Glen, and discussing what I have been doing and the ideas I have, everything seems a lot clearer to me. Now there are two clear paths that I want to follow during the residency, the first being exploring my drawings and ideas of botanical hybrids, and the other is more sculptural.
I have repeated the idea of a hybrid many times within my blog posts, but now I have started to think about what I mean by this. Alien species doesn’t necessarily man otherworldly, it is often used to refer to a foreign species that already exists, but has been introduced into a new habitat on another part of the world. Himalayan Balsam is a plant that I automatically think of, having seen it myself taking over a lot of the countryside where I live. While I have started by creating drawings of imagined specimens, maybe this is something to consider? The size of the drawings are something else I would like to explore, as I have in the past created large scale, wall sized drawings as well as the A4 sized drawings in my sketchbooks, and this is something I would enjoy doing again. Glen asked me how long it would take me to complete a 12 foot drawing, so maybe will start one and find out! I also want to be more experimental in my definition of drawing, so I want to start using wire to create drawings in space, I have chosen quite a thin wire to explore this. I have also considered creating my own drawing tools from natural materials and exploring how I can use them to create drawings. I am also going to start exploring ideas of creating my own book, bookbinding is something I have a basic knowledge of so it would be exciting to create my own book of specimen drawings. How I could get these printed and other problems are something I need to think about and solve.
Looking at artists like Regine Ramseier (in a previous blog post) and other artists that use natural materials within their work, it has given me ideas of how I can also use sculptural works to explore notions of botanical hybrids, by possibly creating my own specimens from natural materials. How would I present them? A Cabinet of Curiosities? In jars? In display boxes? These will all be things I need to consider, in addition to the materials I use and their size. I also want to continue to explore my clay sculptures, which I have began to talk about more in depth in a previous blog post, and I will continue to explore them in future blog posts as well.
During my first month I have also contacted a few people, one being Don Steward from the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, who is the head of the Natural History collections. I set up a meeting with him and he showed me around their stores as well as the gallery. It was really interesting to learn that almost all of the specimens they they hold are from the Staffordshire area, something I was not aware of! The Museum has to follow rules since it was founded that all natural history exhibits display specimens from the area. I was also surprised by the number of specimens they hold, around 100,000! I will need to contact Don again and let him know what specimens I would be interested in looking at. I will also get some photographs of the stores themselves, as they are really fascinating as well.
I have also booked a space on the Behind the Scenes Zoology Spirit Collection Tour at the Natural History Museum, so I can see all of their specimens stored in jars which are submerged in alcohol. Some of Charles Darwin’s collection is housed here. I will also be going to see the Mat Collishaw exhibition at New Art Gallery Walsall, and I have also booked a place on his talk where he will be present to talk about his work and the exhibition, it was in very high demand so I am now glad I booked a place early!
All in all it has been a very enjoyable and exciting first month, I hope the next month will be a highly productive one! Tomorrow I am going to Frieze Art Fair thank to Turning Point West Midlands and New Art Gallery Walsall, and afterwards I will be going to see the Jerwood Drawing Prize Exhibition at Jerwood Space, so another busy day ahead of me.