And so the time has come to pass the baton on to the next artist. I will be a liittle sad to say goodbye to Reside but for me, I think it went some way to serve the purpose I hoped it would. It allowed me a side step in my practice, to play a little with ideas that I had wanted to explore for some time. Of course I only managed to touch on themes I wanted to examine but it's a start. The one hour one/space idea was really an attempt to use the restrictions time and location wise that I struggle with and turn them around into a positive space for possibilty. Continuing on this theme, as I said previously, I plan to take this project online at some point, back into my home/studio, with a live feed over the internet for a specified time. Should you wish to take part, or simply observe, please join my Twitter network and any activity will be announced on there.
Initially, Reside, unfunded, no space provided, may seem unattractive in comparison to other residencies. Quite the contrary. Reside is a little jewel, passed from one artist to another. In a sea of opportunies where lengthy criterias must be met, where briefs demand artists to tick every box imaginable, Reside allows the artist simply to be, or rather, Reside trusts the artist to be.
But of course Reside is specifically designed for those artists that find it difficult to take up any other residencies due to familial/financial restrictions etc. When passing this residency on I have chosen the artist Anthony Boswell to pass the baton too. Anthony's family situation, although very different from mine, is equally, if not more so, restricting, but despite this, Anthony has utilised those resources which are available to him, ie. the internet, to build up relationships and invite others into discourse and share in the development of his practice. Rather than seeing the limitations of his surroundings as a restriction, Anthony sees a never ending landscape of possibilites to wrestle with and I pass Reside over to him knowing he will treasure it. Thankyou Corinna and Karl for your support during the residency and thankyou to all who have joined with me over the last six months.
Okay, not much longer to go, the penultimate post, I knew the time would fly past but I tried not to measure Reside by dates and deadlines, just to let it be, as it were.
As I've mentioned before I wanted somehow to reach out and include others in this mini project, but was not really sure how that would occur. I knew I wanted to approach people outside of 'the art world' as it were, for want of a better word.
Last night I was due to drop in with an organisation nearby that supports people who are experiencing homelessness, helping them get life back on track. First and foremost of course, they are ordinary people like the rest of us, with a wealth of experience and skills in many different areas. We do a little art work together. I hadn't made any plans. It was a really sunny, peaceful evening and I noticed the Methodist Hall opposite my house lying empty as the various clubs have stopped for summer break. So why not.
I met with one woman and four men there.I told them what I have done and showed them the footage in the images. We talked. We discussed what art might be. I showed them the materials, some paper and fabric - and space, lots of it.
At this stage they could have laughed, ignored me, or challenged my decision to even invite them here. Instead they began to roll the paper out. They rolled and rolled until it was entirely off the cardboard tube. They found some tables and chairs and began to construct.
They discussed, explored, made decisions, folded, constructed, laughed, argued, photgraphed and tidied up, all in an hour....and like myself, I've a feeling they thoroughly enjoyed it.
(all materials by the way, are rejected and recycled items from wall paper manufacturers etc)
With the last applications in for the forthcoming Reside residency I have an impossible task to select from many, very worthy artists. As my own residency draws to a close though I had hopes to hold another session in the King Edward Hall, open to the general public but am having difficulty booking it. If all attempts fail, I may move the project online - more details to follow but in the meantime, relating to the playful, improvised approach of previous sessions, and pointing towards future plans, here is some wonderful footage of drawing at Swansea Metropolitan University.
A quiet Sunday afternoon saw me back again in another space. Taking nothing but a pile of books, with the King Edwards Hall hired for just one hour, I set about an exploration of the space. Belfast in the 1970's was a dichotmoy. While violence raged in city streets, I whiled away long hours in a quiet suburban neighborhood just miles away. As my mother routinely 'dozed' in the early afternoon, I was allowed to take the books down from the bookshelves and construct stepping stones, circles and 'stairs' to entertain myself. While she slept I would lay them out around the room and set out to explore, stepping from one to another.
As a young child those hours would drag. Now however an hourflashes by and you can do little that is concrete, complex or lasting in that time. In this context, I like that.
At this point I am currently reviewing applications for the next Reside artist. Six months has whizzed by and perhaps on some levels what I have achieved may seem frivilous or lacking in substance. In a way that is what I have been searching for. I have found these few experiences, these single hours in single spaces, materials pared down, no demand for an end product, extremely playful and liberating and that approach is feeding the rest of my practice. I hope not only to hold one more session in this particular space and invite others in, but as the baton is passed onto the next artist I hope to continue one hour, one space, taking it back into my home but onto the internet through live streaming, engaging directly with the audience.
I'm afraid reading has suffered somewhat this month as I was busy preparing for exhibitions but I managed to dip into the Fold by Deleuze which was largely impossible to decipher except for one moment of clarity when everything seemed to sing (I was in the hairdressers). I also managed to complete Mrs Bridge which was everything I hoped it would be.
As an after thought, and watching the video above, I couldn't help but remember the Poem for Marie by Seamus Heaney which begins, 'Love, I will perfect for you the child , who diligently potters in my brain....', written for his wife, recalling childhood constructions, not really related to my undertaking, but beautiful none the less
Seamus Heany Poenm: Digging
While installing this work above, the artist Jane Ponsford dropped in for a chat and we discussed the significance of the role the space often plays in my work.
Many days have passed since I wrote the last entry but Reside continues to languish,constantly, at the back of my mind. It's been interesting to note, like the physical spaces, community halls and church halls which sit quietly, patient and empty between events, no one's home yet everyone's space, Reside seems to occupy this territory in my head, waiting, as it were, always available for use.
In the last few days I have been reading the book Theanyspacewhatever, which accompanies the significant exhibition of the same name at the Guggenheim some years ago. (I believe theanyspacewhatever is drawn from a Deleuzian term – some of you will now be waking up while some may prefer to go and make a cup of tea.)
One such element of the project involved the Wrong Gallery, a glass door, indistinguishable from those on either side on a New York street, a shallow space 'easy to miss, easy to forget', operating initially through improvisation, publicised through word-of-mouth and with an ongoing relay of selected artists invited to respond as they wished. Before long Frieze got hold of it and ultimately a replica was placed in a wall of the Tate Modern. The Wrong Gallery became right and in the process lost it's soul in an almost Faustian manner.
It made me reflect on hiring the village/church halls. I had now and then, considered gathering this material and exhibiting it in a Gallery space, no doubt to be received and commented on by those who frequent such a context. That is after all, the right thing to do isnt it, exposure in a respected space, comments from knowledgeable sources? but that holds little interest for me at the moment.
Village halls exist on another platform altogether. They are seemingly neutral zones given identity by those that inhabit them. They are entirely free of the oppressive weight of context galleries carry with them. I hope in a little while, to open my time there and invite people in. If the 'wrong' people come... so much the better.
Reading material recently ( I eventually finished the Dickens)
has included of course,
Theanyspacewhatever Nancy Spector, published by the Guggenheim
Asterios Polp - by David Mazzucchelli
and about to start
Mrs Bridge by Evan S. Connell
On another note entirely, I belong to what is considered the more cerebral book club of the village established by the extremely learned vicar's wife and an ex- publisher, ( I fear I may have been invited to add a rougher edge to the conversation). It is a sober but enlightening event which I've come to treasure, but now (you can never, by the way, ask to join these groups, potential members being discussed behind closed doors and then covertly invited), I have also accepted an invitation to the hard drinking, tough talking, rival village book club, a decidedly more raucous event with a distinctly later finish time. I have already been plied with cava and debriefed for information and am beginning to feel likethe village doubleagent.
Looking back at Corinna's blog for inspiration I realised that what I can contribute at the moment is painfully thin in comparison. Although I have three shows approaching, all of which require site-specific work, I want to set this residency aside in my mind as a space for other things to happen.
Finding time for anything other than washing, cooking and ferrying children back and forward from one place to another however seems impossible at times. But I'm not here to moan. This is how it is, this is the time I have and this is why I'm the priveledged recipient of the Reside Residency and not spending six months in Durham cathedral or suchlke.
On a dreary wet Monday morning I carried camera, ladders, tripod etc over to the Methodist Church Hall where I had booked the space for one hour only. Unlike the village Hall there were no reams of paperwork to complete, no deposits to be paid, just a visit to the home of Mr Moody, head of the family that almost entirely make up The Methodist congregation, seven pounds handed over,hastily scribbled receipt and the details filled in in the logbook entitled 'Art Art' ( he had asked me twice what I wanted to use it for, not quite understanding the first time, and in some confusion decided to put both answers down.)
And so on Monday I found the old Methodist Chruch Hall open and empty awaiting 'art art'. Somehow I didn't feel the same about this space, no compulsion to move around and somehow explore the size and physicality of it. In contrast the Methodist Church Hall was full of detail, from the names of all the Sunday school teachers preserved in stone, to the worn pews, faded posters and flag rigged up by the scouts for renditions of the national anthem.
And so this time it seemed inappropriate to do anything other than photograph. Some of the images are below
I particularly liked the random items left behind by the various groups who regularly use the hall.
...and so where does all this lead me?
Well, so far I have a number of images, recordings etc that I would like to plough into during the summer holidays when committments ease off a little. I have another space I want to explore though, but as I have just slammed that in last minute as a proposal for a curatorial opportunity I will wait before I talk more about it. Save to say though that I would like to shape these places more into territory for interaction of some sort.
As I said, Corrina is shaming me into fleshing out this post a little. I can't say that I fill my life with literature and films etc as there really is little time to do other than keep my head above water. I can share her diabetic testing routine though, not on a cat but on myself. Rare train journeys and music lessons however do permit me a little reading and recently this has consisted of;
The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art by Martha Buskirk
and on a lighter note
'Our Mutual Friend' by Charles Dickens
- his last and extremely weighty novel, (only in the practical sense), perhaps his most deliciously detailed account of Victorian hiigh and low society, and literally laugh out loud hilarious at more points than I can mention
Booking the village Hall for 'the purposes of art', as I filled in on the form, caused a flurry of confusion amongst committee members.
What exactly do you mean? Of course, you're going to paint there, no?
I'm not really sure what I'll do.
How many people will be there?
So you're not running a class or a workshop?
Making crafts. You're selling crafts yes?
No, I'm not sure if I'll make anything.
Ah, you're going to draw?
Well yes maybe.
That's fine then. Now that we understand, the booking can go ahead.
One hour, one space. No studio clutter, no interruptions from squabbling siblings, no pressure to produce a finished product. Just one large, empty silent room. I locked all the doors and closed the ground level curtains. The items I had brought with me were;
A pair of roller blades (I'd like to point out I am a complete amateur)
a large roll of wallpaper
a bowl, a brush and some olive oil
a copy of the village pantomime Babes in the Wood
I spent some time rollerblading around the space, seeing what it felt like to have that whole area to myself, to really experience what it meant to have all of it. It was actually quite exhilarating.
Getting to grips with it in such a physical way, drawing in a sense again and again, became a process of understanding. After about half an hour (and to catch my breath) I decided to move on. I dragged the wallpaper in and rolled it out the full length of the hall, intending to draw with the olive oil. I wrestled with the paper to turn it over and somehow the physicality of moving the material around in the space was all I wanted to do. I abandoned the use of any additional material and spent the last half hour exploring the possibilities of the paper and the space.
I moved the paper around the hall and up onto the stage. I lifted it above my head and crawled under it the full length of the hall and onto the stage area. In the empty space the experience was not only visual and physical but made the most wonderful sound as the paper crumpled and swished across the floor. I loved it. I took video footage and a handfull of images to draw from in future work perhaps. I wanted to stick exactly to the hour. It passed really quickly. I hadn't planned the outcome of this session. I hadn't considered how the sheer size of the space would demand such a physical response. It was a complete revelation as to how exhausting and satisfying this whole process of exploring this space has been.
Next, I hope to hire the Methodist church hall opposite my house, an entirely different space, impregnated with a history of the village. I've no idea how it will turn out.
'Look at this. Who can say it isn't beautiful? Sky, bricks. Who do you think lives there? Four-car garage. Hope, fear, excitement, satisfaction...'
A much loved clip from True Stories with David Byrne.
I live in a village. On the surface, every house is pretty much the same, but of course, behind closed doors, all manner of life is played out.
The last video I posted was a totally random juxtaposition of events, an unplanned recording from a domestic incident, a faulty smoke alarm, some philosophical pondering. I chose it for a number of reasons. It seemed to have some of the elements I'm looking for in this space -
Reside - created for the artist who proves highly unsuitable for any other residency. Reside mines the immediate landscape of the artist's day to day life.
Aspects which make me unsuitable for residencies.
1. I have no time. (big families and the need to make money to eat dictate this).
2. I can't travel - (I would no doubt benefit from a residency in the Antartic but I have to be back each day for school pick up.)
So here's my plan. I want to hire the spaces in my immediate vicinity - the village halls, church halls etc, one a month, for one hour. Between the badminton club and the yoga group, the scrabble club and the pre-school, my residency will sit. I will enter a contract and own that space for one hour. I will make my residency to suit myself. What will I do when I get there? I'm really not sure, and to be truthful, I'm a little scared...
I've been carrying around this residency in my head for days now, turning it over and over, wondering where to start with the tangle of ideas that I finally want to pick up and unravel. While attending a discussion tonight exploring a way forward for an arts organisation that is restructuring, I scribbled down these words.
'...dangerously interested in work that isn't work, no product, just questions, a carving out of time...'
Below is a still from a video I made last year. Somehow it's approach encapsulates a lot of what I am hoping to find as I move forward with the residency. Click on the image to view.
_ After a particularly hard day a very welcome email dropped into my inbox informing me that I was to be the next Reside artist. Falling outside the remit of any other artists opportunity, this little gem has been passed to me with refreshingly few if any demands or criteria. It is up to me to shape it. I hope it will bestow on me the licence to carve out a little conceptual corner of my thinking, a room which I have not yet explored. I hope you will join me there.
And thankyou Corinna for your contribution to Reside, I wish you well in your work and look forward to commencing blogging from 1st February.
Susan Francis is a Belfast born artist now living in the South of England
Assigning words to a process which, by it's nature endeavors to exist outside the borders of a textual medium will never be easy. I suppose, to use a literary metaphor, I see my work as a constant enquiry, an incomplete sentence, a phrase articulated through material, object and space. It is quiet work, a vocabulary of cast offs, objects, liquids and processes, at times unstable, prone to decay, but familiar to us all.
With influences ranging from Eva Hesse's organic minimilism to Watteau’s scenes of frivolous beauty tinged with wistful sadness, my work is often unashamedly poetic. Peering into the unspoken corners of our condition, I traverse a landscape shifting beneath us as the domestic enclave is infiltrated by a digitally connected world, where the ambiguity and at times falsity of relationships, truth and love languish in a vulnerable and fragile context.
At the core of my practice I suppose I wish to open a dialogue with myself, the space, the viewer – where others will take that conversation is for them to decide.