The residency at Mawddach Residency offered me a space to be fully immersed in my art practice, without the distractions of normal life. This felt like a breath of fresh air (literally), being surrounded by an incredibly inspiring and beautiful place, away from the busy environment I was used to back in my hometown. It allowed time for me to form a relationship with the landscape by absorbing and observing its very presence. It has been, in many ways, a deeply fulfilling experience that has enabled me to regain a sense of excitement for the future of my work.
During the first few days of the residency, I spent my time away from the studio, physically exploring the landscape. I went on long walks with fellow resident Chloe, visiting various places in the surrounding area, such as the waterfalls in Arthog, Cregennan Lakes, Blue Lake (lagoon) by the old slate quarry and the panoramic viewpoint by the seaside town, Barmouth.
I enjoyed taking my sketchbook out into the landscape and capturing specific imagery that I was drawn to, such as the sunlight that filtered through the branches of trees, or the large clouds that invaded the sky, blurring the tops of mountains. My explorations of Arthog's surrounding areas revealed the vast expanse of the landscape, which at times felt overwhelming. Returning back to the house after many exciting hours exploring the outdoors, felt comforting and I enjoyed doing this as my daily routine.
My style of drawing involves creating short marks that communicate interactions between objects. I particularly like to visualise intangible aspects of nature such as light or wind and reimagine them by creating lines that evoke the directions of light, the changing colours, or movements in the landscape. During the residency, I enjoyed taking my tools outside to sketch and study the environment from observation. In the studio, I could then respond more intentionally to these sketches, creating carefully crafted paintings and drawings that referenced aspects of the land, water, and sky that I was drawn to.
For me, drawing is an intuitive process and I have discovered that the residency has provided me with an opportunity to react instinctively and not think too much about creating a finalised or completed piece. I believe that reflection and deeper contemplation will follow later, as I gain a clearer understanding of my thought processes and the internal links between each of my works.
I found the windows in the studio intriguing for drawing the landscape, as they acted as a framing tool (similar to James Turrel’s Skyspaces), capturing a section of the estuary and the surrounding mountains. Focusing on a specific scene that changed throughout the day allowed me to notice more closely the movements of the tide or location of the sun, which created a greater awareness of the passing of time.
My time during the residency was nothing short of magical. While dedicating many hours to listening to Andy Serkis’s narration of “The Fellowship of the Ring” during my adventures through the rugged landscape, it was undeniable that the natural beauty of the place added to the overall enchantment.
Since graduating last year, having a studio space once again has proven to be incredibly rewarding. In many ways, I have come to see it as an essential component for my artistic growth and development. The art that I make is in an extension of myself, my hopes, and ideas that will lead into greater projects, many of which are yet to be realised. The residency has left me feeling positive returning to the reality of navigating the challenging aspects of the art world as a young artist. I have felt as if I have regained some of the confidence that I didn’t realise I had lost.
Jake and Scarlett have been exceptionally warm, wise, and gracious hosts. Sharing the living space and studio with Chloe has also been a wonderful experience, particularly in our attempts making oak gall ink in the kitchen. Forming connections with these kind and creative people has certainly been the one of the most rewarding parts of the residency.