When I began my residency at Mawddach Residency I was not entirely sure of what I would make. I knew I wanted to explore my relationship with an environment that was unfamiliar to me, but I was unsure as to what the outcomes of this exploration would look like. What really excited me at the beginning of the residency, is that it would be a time for me to be able to explore my practice outside an academic institution, especially since I had only completed my Masters course a week prior. Due to this, the residency really became a way for me to explore and feel how it would be to make artwork without any expectations from others and without it being judged academically, which felt very freeing.
I decided I would begin simply by drawing what I saw around me. I spent the first day simply sitting by the window and creating quick sketches of my view of the estuary, observing how it changed throughout the day, the light and the tide changing the landscape in front of me as time passed.
Then I began to explore the Mawddach, recording with drawings and photographs what I saw around me, and the more I looked I began to discover details about the environment around me that I couldn’t explain upon first sighting but that intrigued me. As I continued to look throughout my time at the Mawddach residency, these mysteries would begin to illuminate themselves. For example, a chain hanging from a tree confused me, I had no idea what it was doing there or why, but the combination of the organic and the man-made was beautiful to me, and so I created a simple charcoal drawing of it. Returning the next day I found a boat attached to that chain. I really began to appreciate how the environment around me would explain itself to me the more time I spent in it.
My practice has always been very internal, of the body and internal emotions. I think therefore it makes sense that the work began to become about feelings and relationships, but rather than human relationships, I explored the emotions that the environment was drawing out of me. In particular, Barmouth bridge and the area nearby became important to the work I was making. I find wooden bridges scary and the multiple journeys I made across were very anxiety inducing, the anxiety building before I even began my crossing. This anxiety was further built upon by the weather at the time, the wind and rain blowing my hair across my face and obscuring my vision.
However, I also felt very happy and rewarded each time I completed a journey. I decided I wanted to portray my view near the bridge as it was the area that induced the strongest emotion in me, and I created paintings of my view, of my hair obstructing the landscape. I found it interesting that when creating these paintings, which was a slow process of attempting to paint the hair in as much detail as I could, I found myself very calm, and the act of creating these paintings of an anxiety inducing moment almost became meditative.
Overall I feel my time on residency really helped me to begin my practice outside of an academic institution, exploring how I make work and the ways my practices changes and stays the same when it is entirely self-motivated. Furthermore I feel the collection of images and photographs I collected will continue to be useful within my practice, and I still feel inspired by the area following the residency.
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