Swona / Artists Newsletter A-N New Collaborations Bursary
A collaborative research project with archaeologist Keir Strickland. We made an art/archaeology survey of the abandoned island of Swona, off the Orkney Islands, in August 2014. Read more here.
Odyssey / Old Lookout Gallery
Artist in Residence, The Old Lookout Gallery, Broadstairs. 7 – 13 July 2014.
‘Odyssey’ is a new photographic series, which I began during my week as Artist in Residence at The Old Lookout Gallery (7-13 July 2014). ‘Odyssey’ explores journeying, using the flight of sea birds and migratory birds as a metaphor for returning home (as told in Homer’s Odyssey). In modern language the word Odyssey now has come to represent a journey: literal, metaphorical or spiritual. I captured birds in flight along the local coastline. Cyanotypes were created from these negatives. The walls were populated with this new work throughout the week, resulting in a show at the weekend. The use of the traditional cyanotype process alongside the new immediacy of the digital image complements the Obsolete Studios‘ ethos. During the exhibition, binoculars were available for visitors to participate in some ‘birding’ from the Old Lookout windows, with a selection of birding books available.
This residency was supported by the School of Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire.
Read more about this residency and the processes used here.
Timespan Translocation Residency
May - July 2013
In May 2013, I was invited to Timespan to be Artist in Residence for seven weeks, to make new work in response to the excavation of the longhouse at the Caen settlement. This excavation was part of a series of events commemorating the bicentenary of the Kildonan Clearances, culminating in the Translocation Festival. My research explored notions of home, the Kildonan Clearances (including diaspora and migration), excavating and documenting, art and archaeology. Out of this research and time spent daily at the dig, I made new work using a variety of photographic techniques to create new artefacts that were displayed alongside the findings of the excavation.
The Diaspora Stones are a series of photographs printed onto stone looking at key themes such as home, abandonment, the land, and migration (using birds as a metaphor for human migration). These stones were found on Helmsdale beach and come from different geological eras. Rock types in the local area include: metamorphic, granite, old red sandstone, flint, slate, quartz and conglomerates. Over geological history (100s of millions of years) these have moved from all over Scotland to arrive at Helmsdale beach. These stones have dispersed, so they could also be a kind of geological diaspora. Much like the people in the Clearances, who dispersed from the glens to the sea and beyond. The photographs now printed onto these various stones, become image-fossils.
During my residency I adopted several approaches when making work. Eventually I plan to make an artists book to document this residency. After the residency I displayed these approaches in a set of antique drawers. Contents included: tests of the stone printing process, beach archaeology, cyanotype photograms of some of the excavation finds and the Clearances story quilt. The second row of drawers included three images from ‘The Descendants’, a collaboration with three of the descendants of Caen. The first two are portraits within the longhouse footings and make reference to the practice of using the human form as a scale in archaeological site photography. The third image comprises of a fireplace within a Caen descendant’s home printed and then re-photographed within the longhouse excavation.
Two week photography research trip in Helmdale (August 2012).
During my stay at Timespan my main objective was to find and photograph ‘back plate’ interiors for my Realm project. I visited many abandoned croft houses in the Helmsdale area. I was always fascinated to see what remained within the dwelling. The last structure surviving in most houses was the hearth or fireplace. I could imagine families gathering around the fire to hear local stories of ghosts, fairies, selpies and kelpies, all passed down through the generations by gifted storytellers. These homes were long abandoned when families wanted more comfortable housing, which had electricity and running water. I had an illuminating discussion with Lorna Jappy, manager of the Bridge Hotel, Helmsdale resident and storyteller, where we mourned the loss of these fireside gatherings. Most families now gather around a new storyteller, the television. In a way I would like the derelict interiors photographed for my work to be brought alive again with a narrative, just as the room may once of done, by the flickering and crackling fire side. My use of double exposure is intended to add another or ‘other-worldly’ realm to an everyday home, or a route in a fantasy world.
I’m indebted to the generosity of the staff, volunteers and friends of Timespan, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel welcome and find properties for me to visit. My two weeks at the Artist’s Flat were restorative and inspiring, a world away from my busy life in London. In enjoyed driving on single-track roads along awesome glens, by lochs and along coastal routes. The scattered passing places, novel for a Londoner, allowed time to stop and absorb the landscape (and of course take a photograph). The north Highlands are sometimes referred to as the ‘Empty Lands’ and this was palpable when driving for 20 minutes, or more, and not passing another sole.
Click here for a Storify photo diary of my time there.
AA2A / Camberwell College of Arts
The AA2A (Artists Access to Art Colleges) residency scheme provides placements for visual artists in institutions across England. Participants have the opportunity to undertake a period of research or realise a project, using workshops and supporting facilities in participating fine art and design departments. I was delighted to be selected as an Artist in Residence at Camberwell College of Arts as part of the AA2A scheme (September 2011 – May 2012).
I used my time as artist in residence to develop two projects, The days are falling and Cosmogony, as well as a new film piece, Wind (2012).This residency allowed me access to both the analogue photographic equipment to capture the work and also to the digital technologies necessary to process and digitise the images. I was able to sit in on student technical workshops, such as demonstrations in video editing. My work relies on access to many types of equipment and the AA2A scheme at Camberwell ensured regular access to equipment and facilities to help me develop work and learn new skills in moving image. I also enjoyed the contact, ideas exchange and ongoing dialogue with current students and the technical and academic staff at the college.
This is my first film work, having previously only worked with stills. I have become increasingly interested in moving image work but was never sure how or what I should film. In January 2011 there were some amazingly strong winds causing the branches on the trees to thrash, bend and be moved by this invisible force, the wind. I found that by composing the frame as I would do naturally, the branches danced and bowed for my fixed position. 'Wind' was then edited together and combined with a beautifully meditative score composed by Ralph Tayler-Webb.
The Days are Falling (2011-2012), dummy book display, AA2A interim show, Camberwell College of Arts, 2012
Two week studio residency at Holton Lee, a rural retreat and nature reserve in Dorset.
I spent two weeks building dioramas in the studio space, inspired by the forest and wildlife surrounding the studio complex. One of the dioramas was of a forest scene and became the set for my subsequent project: Cosmogony.
Holton Lee Artist Studios complex
My studio space for the two week residency.
The forest diorama - that subsequently became the set for my Cosmogonyseries.