It’s been a busy end to the year for Janet, our Graduate Artist in Residence. Janet’s summed up what she’s been up to over the last couple of months, and opportunities that she has found within the city to help push forward her personal development.
Although I am building up banks of media to assemble later, my ideas are becoming layered and having allowed myself to research and experiment, it’s become time to assess and realign these ideas with my core interests in the dislocations between culture and ecology, where methods of material production are teased apart to expose social, historical, emotional and environmental entanglements. Writing this blog is a useful tool to stand back and assess my progress. During my degree, I learned to take a step back from ideas and concentrate on making, to search out methods of fabrication, which produces a different raft of more solid possibilities.
To this end, I’ve concentrated on forging local connections with other makers. My current interest is in oak galls, which have deep connections with cultural and technical inventions, such as indelible ink used in ancient writing, textile dyeing, and early photographic processes. Via my neighbours at Eaton House, Photo Archive Miners1, I was introduced to photographer and educator Jo Gane2, who invited me to watch her using Gallic Acid solution to process calotypes in her garage studio.
Jo is currently researching the work of pioneer Birmingham-based photographer George Shaw, creating calotypes and photogravures of views of the River Cole. It was fascinating to discover images of the riverbank, where humans and wilderness meet, slowly appearing under Jo’s fingers, with the resulting images looking just like they were already a hundred years old. She explained how these incredibly delicate development processes are easily thrown by small variables in time and ambient temperature. The amount of water necessary to the process surprised me; water flowing over the image surface and the sounds of washing somehow brought the gurgling river into that little garage space.
Searching for fabrication methods has led me to courses in 3d printing and lazer-cutting at the amazing maker resource, FabLab3, meters away from City Arcadia Shop Front Gallery where I will be exhibiting some work next year. This, as well as talking to Jo and other artists about the technical side of making, makes me feel more connected to a united artistic effort. Thinking through, writing, generating and researching ideas usually happens alone and can creep into confusion, although I generally feel solitude is bliss, these recent connections have brought greater clarity of direction.
This autumn has been busy for visual art in Coventry with exhibitions, shows, networking, and workshops. I really appreciated being able to spend a long time with some amazing works while invigilating for Coventry Biennial4. Moreover, with so many visual art events having happened very recently, alongside the making possibilities which have come to light, developing and showing artwork here in Coventry currently feels very local, possible, which is very encouraging.