Our time at Mawddach provided a precious opportunity to commit to simply responding to our surroundings and to each other’s work. As we are both working artists and mums, the time at Mawddach was blissfully free from caring duties; the ability to be spontaneous made the residency unique, and at times profound.
I have been reading and listening to podcasts about neuroanatomy and ‘whole brain living’, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I could use some of my insights in the way I made work. I experimented with choosing to respond using observation and intention; at other times I tapped into a different part of my brain to respond viscerally, from sense of connectedness. Together, we actively questioned judgements about our own work, and about creative output in general, in order to be as open as possible.
Our first inclination was to respond to the muted colours and light of early Spring. We took turns making and then responding. I would paint (watercolour or oil) or draw (ink on Japanese paper) and then Rachna would weave or wrap yarns to make experimental companion pieces. Materiality was paramount; we tried to deconstruct as much as possible. The results were paintings and drawings which were ripped into strips and woven into natural warps, or torn into chunks and reassembled into new collaged forms combining textile, drawing and painting. Watercolour studies on paper became backdrops for woven green threads, simulating the sensations of being in wild places laced with tiny Spring shoots. I moved between media to stay try to stay light.
Walking and climbing (Cader Idris, Mawddach trail, random sheep fields) were integral parts of our process. I took hundreds of photos and have used AI to manipulate these; I am now using key frames to make short abstract digital films. As is often the case with a new tool, I dont know where these films are leading but I see them mostly as inspiration for future paintings and collaborations.
This is my third artist residency, and I am utterly convinced these times “away” are essential for survival and development. The Mawddach experiences are like sourdough starters; I am hopeful that things will ferment, grow and become more complex in the months to come.
Thank you to Jake and Scarlett for hosting, including and inspiring us (and for welcoming Piper, the eternally muddy Cavapoo.) And gratitude to my brave and talented collaborator, Rachna.
- Kate Lowe
The residency was Kate’s idea, applying for a collaborative residency excited me from the start. The luxury of being able to immerse ourselves in the beautiful landscape of Wales responding to the environment and to each other's work sounded like a dream - and that is exactly how it turned out!
We encountered a mix of rain, sun, clouds and mist during our stay. The studio and the bedroom windows provided captivating views that effectively captured the subtle yet dramatic shifts in colour and mood that kept us inspired throughout.
Responding to Kate’s paintings with colour abstraction was a fun and slightly novel approach for my weaving practice. I really enjoyed the silence and quietude the location offered which made it possible to shut out the visual clutter that is typical of a bustling city like London, and I thoroughly enjoyed the tranquility it provided.
Our days were filled with long walks, collecting, gathering materials, brainstorming ideas and creating small pieces of works that held meaning for both of us. I kept a daily journal to remind me of my first impression of a particular place because it is amazing how quickly all the excitement of a new landscape can fade if one does not pay attention by being mindful and connecting with all aspects of our being - body, mind, emotion and spirit.
We were quite intrigued and inspired by the dry stone walls, windswept trees, moss and lichen carpeting the landscape by its vibrancy and softness. The sheep and lambs dotted the fields and their wool caught on stones, rocks, gorse and fences fluttering in the wind like prayer flags. All these elements crept up in our works.
We had amazing meals, engaging conversations with Jake and Scarlett, a few drawing sessions with Jake and we also posed for the draw Brighton portrait session. All these experiences were really precious and helped provide added perspective on how we each view and build our own individual art practices further. We intend to grow the works we started in the residency and maybe plan another stay in the autumn to compare the seasonal changes in the landscape.
- Rachna Garodia