Common Ground Residency, Rogue Project Space

Common Ground Residency

Bradley Fold Allotment & Rogue Project Space

Preview 6-8pm, Friday 12 October
3 October – 15 October 2012
Open Studio 13-14 October

From images of my work at Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
 From images of my work at Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space

I’ve been invited to take part in a residency as part of a group of six artists (Liz Weiwora, Tash Whittle, Claire Tindale, Simon Jones and Tracey Hewitt) called the ‘Common Ground Collective’, following my residency in 2011 at Bradley Fold.
I’ll be looking forward to using the project space as a ‘testing ground’ to work with the collective and members from Bradley Fold Allotments in South Manchester during the residency period and developing ideas relating to sustainability and environment having spent time at the Fold with allotment members in 2011.

This residency was of interest to me since I was curious to see what I could produce in this context of not having had any previous contact with most of the artists and having only four days within the project space to make.

As a collective project, what exactly did this mean, in terms of the process.  For me, to be part of a ‘collective’ signifies relationships built over time with fellow artists, a shared common outlook and familiarity with each others practice. So, to take part in a residency and as part of a collective which approaches this notion differently- that’s to say, Elizabeth Wewiora invited me to give a talk last year at the Bradley Fold allotment whilst distributing an open call to fellow artists interested in the allotment context- was the pretext for a so-called future collective.

I think it’s a bold start to this approach and the studio space was busied with comings and goings of the five other artists who worked across sound to installation.
There wasn’t as much scope for discourse as I would have liked due to differing commitments, but there was at least one day we were all together. For me, as a great chance to try and get to know everyone, on this day I decided to go back to drawing and in turn, with each artist, this afforded me a chance to get to know them on an individual basis and have a conversation to see where our commonalities lay in terms of our practice and our outlook. The return to drawing portraits with simple ink and paper was the efficiency of speed and a return to the automatic for me. Much lies in the line and the mark, alongside instinct and the boundary between the personality of the mark maker and the representation / effacement of the subject.

I haven’t drawn a portrait for many many years, this focus hand to eye and also the obscuring of any true objectivity lay also in my conversation with each artist. The sketch session lasted around 30-45 minutes per artist and I undertook two drawings. Firstly, I saw this as a warm up, a distance, actuality of the subject as object, observing their physical dimensions. Secondly, my drawing seemed to take on a more surreal and abstract automated rendering, with fragments of our conversation filtered and incorporated. For something so simple, a quick sketch, I found myself ensconced in an immediate editing process that has no undo function of final cut pro- once the mark has been made, even a scribbling out marks its presence, drawing all the more attention to what is not supposed to be there. I became increasingly aware of this visceral mediation of perception through my hand to the audio of our chatter to my breathing and thought stream as I drew.

I recorded the revealing of the drawings to the fellow artist, which I recorded. In the same way, I let the reel run, there could be no effacing of response, of subject confronting themselves, not necessarily through the eye of the other but through my drawing and observation and the instantaneous decision to omit, project and reveal. Moreover, as the conversation developed it became clearer to me that the process was a repetition of what cannot be escaped, the separation of the artist’s own interpretation and perspective of what lies before them. And so this of all our media channels and what is portrayed as the truth or the character or the fact of an object, subject, external to oneself. The drawings then became my mechanism to know who my fellow collective were and through the time spent here, I found myself closer or further from them, and it was revealed without being hidden on the surface of the paper. The ongoing exploration I am conducting into translation and language found itself in this particular process through my using an old typewriter to further obfuscate original context and yet the quality of that type (or accidental misquotation) made the snippets of phrase alone and tactile.

‘My cousin is married to his brother’

Drawing in this way, without any contrived outcome, reminded me of my instinct led drawings/compulsions as part of Tarot De Marseille, which became such personal tools as part of my one to one performance piece ‘UQ and IA’. In this process in 2009, Marseille, there was the element of chance and following absurd rules to derive a sequence of actions and determine the outcome. Here I kept this simple, amongst found photographs and plaques with quotes from Bradley Fold Allotment members, and flower pressings, I allowed each artist to select a plaque, photo and flower press. Together, I mounted this with the two drawings, this ‘pack’ was to become a representation of them, mounted on the wall.

‘ I have not seen him for a while, maybe he has forgotten where his plot is’

I also interviewed Barbara, an 80+ year old member of the Bradley Fold Community. She spent time with me (an hour) in the project space as I filmed our conversation from the shed. What transpired was a 2 minute video piece – an anecdote and ode to her story about a parsnip, that also dealt with aspects of mortality and hope. Viewers found this piece rather funny.

The Parsnip, 2 minutes 41 seconds

Watch the video here

 

Although this was a residency, there was an open studio at the end of day four, which almost unsurprisingly, due to nature of public display, became a pressure to present what I had created during those few days. Visitors were impressed but asked the same questions which are difficult to decipher unless made explicit to new eyes- how was the overall exhibition created, was this a collective effort as in a collaboration? At this point, we each had distinctively worked on our separate projects  but that’s not to say that we had not engaged with each other on some level. Certainly for my drawings and my video, it appeared I could not escape my need to exchange with others. Whether or not we can call ourselves a ‘collective’ is still hesitant in my mind, but it’s a way to start questioning how artists can form communities, affiliations and perhaps some feel the need moreso especially in this climate.

If we are to develop as a collective, there is certainly more need for conversation to take place rather than just having crossing points within our practice, but perhaps schedules impeded this nor do I think it’s necessary to force creating one central work all together. Perhaps beyond placing disparate objects in one space coheres to an extent, but then individual voice within an undefined collective becomes the issue, if we need to define our separate voices- in the final ‘open studio’ our works harmoniously sat together. As the open studio evening event came to a close, I felt a real need to bring us together for a debrief or just to have a chance to reflect on our short residency and what this meant. Not all of us could be present but I think discussion is good when it involves so many, before we all dispersed back into our own everydays again as though it never happened or until another event suddenly posits the ‘collective’ to re-merge. Between us, I think we all had some degree of useful engaged exchange that we could take away.

This was a good way to see what could be achieved in a very compact amount of time for me, with a relatively open remit and a great space to experiment in. I do question if it’s not a little pressurised to be presented as a ‘collective’. I would like to get to know shared ideas and processes and individuals more before the term is applied – and also more discourse between the artists than just a sum of our presenting in the same space that perhaps have been invited to respond to the same context. And so an interesting ground to consider the term ‘collective’ and see how this develops.

From images of my work at Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From images of my work at Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From images of my work at Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space
From Rogue Allotment Residency 2012 Space

PROCESS

From Installing Rogue Project Allotment Residency
From Installing Rogue Project Allotment Residency
From Installing Rogue Project Allotment Residency
From Installing Rogue Project Allotment Residency
From Installing Rogue Project Allotment Residency
From Installing Rogue Project Allotment Residency
From Installing Rogue Project Allotment Residency
From Installing Rogue Project Allotment Residency
From Installing Rogue Project Allotment Residency
From Installing Rogue Project Allotment Residency
From Installing Rogue Project Allotment Residency

With thanks to Arts Council England for funding.

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