Back lane west residency
‘Broadcast’ March 4th -31st 2019
During the month-long residency at Back Lane West, I experimented and explored a range of relating themes, discovering ways in which they could connect (or not).
UNHIDDEN A GROUP EXHIBITION AT THE FISH FACTORY PENRYN MARCH 4TH 2019
Hidden Sounds – A 5 day Intensive Residency in the French Pyrenees
September 19th – 26th 2018
Following a successful application for the FSA Edge award, I was able to experience a unique opportunity to attend an intensive course on ‘Hidden Sound’ in the French Pyrenees led by acclaimed sound artist Christina Kubisch http://www.christinakubisch.de/en/home
The course was organised and hosted by CAMP (http://www.campfr.com) which is run by James Birchall and Sarah Faraday who are two inspiring artists that have also set up Fuse Art Space in Bradford (http://www.wearefuse.co/about). Their bold and pioneering vision to run master-classes within the arts is incredibly inspiring and has encouraged me to pursue ambitions to eventually organise similar ventures in the future.
CAMP is situated in the village of Aulus-De-Bains near the French-Spanish border. A typical morning started with an early rise to the local church bells chiming a unique tune to welcome the day. Traditionally, the bell alerted farm workers to the start of a day’s work and chimes again 12 hours later to signal the hour for the communal meal. Aulus, was a quiet, serene, peaceful, beautiful place to be, nestled into the nook of mountain peaks with the constant sound of flowing water from the river and rivulets sending pure, fresh mountain water to the village. The paths through the streets were narrow and intimate with the sounds of activity within the houses clearly audible.
As you wind up through houses towards the church that sits at the top of a hill overlooking the village, I came across the cat house guarded by a proud, handsome hound dog. Fluffy, playful semi-feral kittens dashed between the cover of bushes and chairs, under cars and behind stacks of firewood, behaving much like young primates, full of curiosity and mischief. I enjoyed observing their freedom the all pets in the village seemed privy to. There was no sense of rigidity or urgency – just tranquillity and the village locals welcomed us with relaxed amusement.
There were 10 other attendees for the Hidden Sound course – all of us with varied backgrounds – some classically trained musicians, a sound designer who writes tunes for smartphone interfaces, a therapist, stage designer and a PhD student. Most people had travelled from outside Europe to attend the course – which I found surprising. I assumed many people would have come from the UK, so it was a wonderful experience to meet people from counties I’ve never been to, such as Argentina, Brazil, the U.S and the Netherlands.
We were accommodated within a huge, beautiful village house that was a former grocery. It was arranged over 4 floors and we all had a private bedroom. The garden caught the afternoon sunlight and it was great to enjoy lunch in the glorious Pyrenees sunshine. The character of the house was immediately warm, rustic, welcoming – the chalky, matte colours were relaxing and the high ceiling, creaky wooden floors added a familiar acoustic environment that formed its unique voice.
The Hidden Sound course was intensive and structured but there was still adequate opportunity to socialise and take in the natural beauty of the mountains and forest. Most of the days involved a mix of lectures, seminars and practical tuition on field recording and audio equipment. It was wonderful to gain first-hand tuition in situ on field recording and also have support from experienced sound artists in audio post-production. The final day offered an opportunity to present your work from the sessions within group or individual installations.
I was lucky enough to collaborate with Sharon Phelan, a PhD student and curator from Trinity in Dublin. We made an audio/visual piece that was projected onto a screen in the library of the house. Sharon complied the sound element from recordings from the previous days at Aulus and I made visuals from abstractions of video clips I made around the village. Together we created a type of memento of our experience in the mountains and it was also my first collaborative piece, ‘Crossed Wires’ that was inspired by Sharon’s soundscape, the location and village cats!
I learnt a great deal from Sharon’s professional and detailed approach to setting up the installation and I was able to gain an understanding of sound composition from identifying clips we’d collected. We also had some amazing conversations about artists, writers and musicians and we plan to meet again in the future. I made some lovely friends during my stay at CAMP and met artists working at various stages in their career and learnt how they balance their passion with the demands of modern living. It was extremely inspiring. We were invited to stay in touch with Christina, James and Sarah and the other members of the course.
James and Sarah compiled an amazing programme at CAMP led by an impressive array of artists working across many fields from sound, video installation, performance and photography. Next year they plan to extend their programme and open up workshops relating to activism. Very exciting.
The facilities available at CAMP included access to Apple iMacs, Adobe software, sound/audio and video hardware and various studio spaces. Advice, after course support and links to the Fuse Art Space in Bradford, unique perspective for fine artists interested in setting up their own independent ventures.
Collaborative workshop at Porthmeor Studios, St Ives 7th June 2018
I was invited as a fine art student to attend the workshop that asked us to consider themes around ‘time, trace and place’. Since my own practice has explored similar themes, I thought the workshop would offer an alternative outlook as the artists organising the workshop were primarily musicians incorporating environmental sounds into performances.
I didn’t know what sort of work I would make within the space. I brought along an ink bubble trace I’d made on acetate as a reference as well as home-made cyanotype paper, air drying clay and sticky tape. During our introductions we were invited to collectively hum – this was an amazing experience – it felt like we were part of a whole – like bees in a beehive.
During the humming, I became interested in the ground, the history of the room and building and started my explorations by gathering traces of dust from the wooden plank on the ground. Rubbing the tape left an imprint of the wood grain and dust that had hidden and buried itself between the cracks.
I used sections of the tape to create my cyanotype along with found objects collected by the other artists. While this was being exposed to the sunlight, I made imprints of the gaps between the floorboards with the clay and formed a collection of about 15 objects that incorporated traces of spaces in-between.
After the making session, the musicians began to perform sonic interpretations of our work. This was incredible. I’d never experienced my work being interpreted in sound form before – it opened my mind to so many possibilities future projects. There were 2 violinists, a trumpeter and flutist.
I returned a week later at the conclusion of their 2-week residency to witness their last performance in the space where I was again invited to hum with them. There was a performative aspect in this piece too. They fused sounds of their interpretations, the surroundings, the sea, the atmosphere. It was beautiful and unique.
Peaceful ambience, quietness, appreciation, gladness, light, sun, cloud, air, sea, water, waves, sand, shells, sea-weed, lines, dust, grains, separate from reality, times past, frozen moments, land, walks, journey, meeting point, discussion, sharing, openness, kindness, unique magic, new sounds, floating, new language, new code, interpretations, visual to sound to visual, folding, layering, formations, capturing, freeing, transience, improvisation, community, involvement, part of a whole, beehive, quirky, unique ways to make musical instruments sing and talk. Unconventional.
Back Lane West Residency
Back Lane West Shared Student Residency June 2018
The project space at Back Lane West offered me the opportunity to experiment with the configuration of my sculpture/video installation work from the previous term. The time there allowed me to resolve some issues and gain clarity on certain aspects of my practice. Concerns around climate change, melting polar ice caps and geological disturbances were revealed to me through observing my work in the project space.
Natural and man-made structures and systems often sit uncomfortably together. There’s an antagonism that’s always in flux – shifts in equilibrium. Since this is the first time humankind has brought such uncertainty and damage to the planet, it’s impossible to envisage how the balance will shift to counteract this change. Could it be a case that we experience more violent and unpredictable weather patterns? More famine and disease? Are we entering a new Darwinian evolutionary phase of “Survival of the Richest”?
For the open evening, using my loose theme around boundary and flow, I wanted to introduce a participatory element where visitors were given an opportunity to interact with the work in an attempt to collapse the boundary between artist and viewer. Audience members were invited to contribute to the creation of an artwork formed by the unpredictability of ice melting onto paper that had been infused by our scattering of ink and pigment powder.
The participatory element of the evening was surprisingly successful and formed a memento of my time at the studio as well as providing me with a starting point for my next project. In the future, I hope to continue to invite the viewer to interact with the works in some way – or explore ways in which they can activate the work.
I would encourage fine art students to seek opportunities to test their work outside the education framework as it opens unique and new directions that would be impossible to envisage otherwise. My time at Back Lane West was invaluable and has given me a new and unexpected avenue to explore within my work and has enhanced my experience of how to approach potential exhibition spaces.
groundwork internship at CAST
May 5th – 16th 2018
My 2-week placement at CAST as Groundwork intern allowed me many opportunities to gain insights into how multi-site exhibitions can be organised. Many staff members and volunteers were artists and students, so I made a few new acquaintances and the conversations were quite enlightening. It certainly broadened my horizons and I discovered a great deal about the local art community and gleaned insights into what could lie ahead after graduation.
My first day as an intern involved some hosting for the resident artists at breakfast before they set off to install and talk about their work with staff and volunteers. That day was extremely busy and involved preparation and placement of roadside signage about the events around Helston and surrounding areas – it was important to ensure visitors were able to locate the various sites. There was also much to do at CAST as the building works had just finished and the spaces needed clearing.
During the opening weekend, I travelled to various locations such as Godolphin House, Goonhilly Earth Station and Kestle Barton, where my primary role was greeting and guiding guests to the exhibitions. The atmosphere was lively and positive – I really enjoyed myself and didn’t notice how long the day had been when it culminated in Andy Holden’s evening performance at AMATA at the Penryn campus.
Subsequent days involved invigilating the various exhibition spaces and works by Steve McQueen, Semi-conductor, Simon Starling and Christina Mackie. Invigilation can give you a chance to spend prolonged time with artworks and it was particularly relevant for me as most were AV-based and this is my main area of interest. Christina Mackie’s work at Godolphin was rich and mysterious so I was grateful for the opportunity to study her work in detail and read press material relating to her installation.
Overall, I gained a deeper understanding of the effort involved in organising exhibitions and it enhanced my appreciation of the works and institutions involved. I would highly recommend pursuing work placements at some stage during study as it helps to ground you and offers realistic expectations of how life can unfold after graduation. My experience at CAST was invaluable to me and I’m grateful to have been able to contribute in some way to the success of Groundwork’s opening week.