making and ‘residencies’

pot with volcanic glaze The art establishment – colleges, public art galleries, the crafts council and their advisers – encourage ‘challenging’ work from contemporary makers. I like making this too, but I have to confess that it practically never sells. So I tend to look for ‘residencies’ – art-speak for a period making new work in response to a particular setting – to develop new ideas, as then at least, there’s a chance of the work being seen.
 
Eden Project It’s always key that there’s a strong connection between the subject of the residency and my own work’s roots. Recently, I applied for one at The Eden Project, with the subject of soil. Eden’s built in a old china clay pit, and the soil was made from the waste from clay production, so finding a link there was pretty easy.
 
page from old bookA residency at the Foundling Museum needed a wider remit: they have ceramic and fabric ‘tokens’, left with children so that they could be recognised and reclaimed in a time of illiteracy. I was looking at using text on both fabric and ceramics to capture modern ideas of identity. This token is described thus: The fabric token left by the parent of Florella Burney Born June 19th 1758. In the Parish of St Anns SoHo.Not Baptiz’d, pray Let particulare Care be taken’en off this Child. . Very poignant.
 
Landscape for Observatory residencyPublic involvement is often a requirement for residencies – The Observatory is new building in a remote landscape, where the artist will make new work – looking inside and outside – and involving the public. I’m still working on this one, but hope to reference my on the horizon pieces as well as the new thorn range.
 
Some are more obscure: for example, a residency working with the Josef Herman Foundation. Herman, a Polish artist, lived and worked in Ystradgynlais in South Wales: which I realised after a bit of research is between Bryn Amman, where my parents went to school, and Ystalyfera, where my aunt taught. So I hope to work up some relevant connections.
 
coat For many of these, I try and expand beyond ceramics, usually into text and textiles. This ‘going beyond’ is one of the big things in culture at the moment – post-disciplinary or mash-up, the term I prefer. Mash-ups don’t have to be too extreme: I saw this great coat made from Welsh ‘carthen’ at Blodwen.com. It’s being shown at London Fashion week.
 
Sadly my kiln blew up this week, so I am re-making most of the ‘pods’ I’ve been talking about recently. The new element are on order, so it’s not as bad as I first feared. Just one of the glazes looked interesting after the weird firing cycle… the rest have been mashed-up in a literal sense, with a hammer.

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2 responses to “making and ‘residencies’

  1. Thanks Elaine – I was lucky, one sort came out different, but good. The rest I am slowly breaking up & throwing out, I keep thinking “but it’s a nice shape” and using it for coffee ground, pencils etc, then realising and throwing it out… It’s still a small % – I remember Nantgarw who had 90% failure in the early years. Unimaginable.

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