Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Artist Residency at Glasshouse Port Maquarie

Last week I completed an artist residency at the Glasshouse in Port Maquarie.

What is an artist residency you ask? Hopefully this post can answer that question and also give some insight into what I did during my residency. 

An artist residency is an opportunity for an artist to temporarily stay and work somewhere other than their usual space. They are a great way to get away for the day-to-day distractions that may otherwise impeded on my art practice and allow me the time and space to really focus on getting the creative juices flowing.

In the case of this residency I was whisked away to the beautiful coastal town of Port maquarie, given a lovely studio to work in amongst a super supportive, creative environment (A theatre/regional gallery) and left to my own creative devices for a week - what bliss.  The public was welcomed into the studio at several points during the residency to see what I had been up to and to make the 'mysterious studio life of an artist' a bit more transparent and accessible to the public. I also taught a  workshop at the end of the residency where participants could come and learn to draw and sculpt with their sewing machines. As with many residencies, the work that I created during my time in this temporary studio will be shown in an exhibition later in the year. More details about that show coming soon!

I jumped at this opportunity for a few reasons. Firstly I was delighted to be approached by the Glasshouse as they are a regional gallery that I greatly admire. They have a great program showcasing the arts and I was honoured to be asked to participate in their 'artist in residency' program. Secondly, I am expecting my first child in just over a month so this residency would be my last opportunity to have some time to myself to focus on my practice for who-knows-how-long.

I arrived in Port the day before the residency began and had a bit of an explore around the area. There are some beautiful coastal environments in Port but I was drawn to the Sea Acres National Park for my preliminary fieldwork. I was only able to stay for a short time in the park that afternoon so sadly did not get to explore the area fully but I did collect a range of fallen eucalyptus leaves.

Once I got setup in my new temporary studio the next day I started to play with my collected leaves and I was especially drawn to the great diversity in colour that they present. There is a rainbow of colours to be found in these beautiful specimens, something that I have always loved about eucalypts. 

After selecting a range of thread colours that would work well with the colour pallet provided by the leaves I spent most of my first day of the residency stitching a colour swatch. This somewhat tedious process is really helpful to determine which colours I will use for the project and to see how the various colours blend together. 

I then developed a series of basic outline sketches based on my found leaf specimens. These sketches guided my stitched interpretations of the leaves. 

For the rest of the residency I set about sewing as many eucalyptus leaves as I could. After a few faults starts as I figured out the best way to approach making and dissolving the leaves I managed to create around 85 leaves in a rainbow of colours directly inspired by my collected leaf specimens. These leaves will form a part of the exhibition that I will have at the Glasshouse Mezzanine in August. 

The rainbow of eucalyptus leaves I had created (and my big pregnant belly) at the end of the residency
The ArtLab at the Glasshouse was the perfect studio for the residency; lots of light, space and an endless supply of tea and coffee on hand. The space looked rather chaotic while I was working in here so here is a shot of the space just before the workshop started where it was clean for a brief period.

I would like to thank the team at Glasshouse for making my time during the residency so easy and enjoyable. Everyone was so warm, welcoming and would go above and beyond to make sure that I had everything that I needed. A special thanks goes to the gallery curator Niomi Sands for her endless work and efforts. I am looking forward to coming back for the exhibition in August!