It has been a privilege to be accepted into an art residence program in northern Georgia in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in USA this year. Hambidge Centre for Art and Science was founded 1934 by Mary Hambidge in memory of her artist partner Jay Hambidge. After Mary Hambidge’s death in 1973 the Centre developed into a competitive residency program for artists, scientists and creative thinkers. Applicants are selected by a board of trustees and advisory council.
For me the residency provided time and space to develop new work. This came at a crucial time in my art practice. I am searching for ways to simplify my art work and to strengthen themes for future exhibitions in the hope of counteracting overstimulation of senses people deal with in everyday-life. I would like the audience to be able to lose themselves in my work, relax, reflect and feel visually stimulated to connected more with themselves and nature. Therefore, concept development becomes essential to crystalize themes underlying art work and merging of unusual media to clearly communicate concepts in a lyrical, modern, but minimal way.
Being in a new environment, stimulated by the conversation, feedback and critical engagement with other art practitioners and given the freedom to experiment with ideas was an important part of the retreat. The residency was not outcome oriented which was an additional benefit as it allowed the testing of new ideas without fear of deadlines or failure. Working in such a supportive environment helped raise my confidence level, reassured me of the high standard of my artwork and concepts as well as opening my art practice up to create evocative immersive experiences for my audience in future work and exhibitions.
While at Hambidge I experimented with creating a site-specific installation of a spiral of painted veils echoing the dense forest that surrounded the studio. The concept was to explore edge effects between forest and clearing, the manmade boundary versus the natural habitat. Photographs and video footage of the veils and emersion into the forest environment led into drafting up artworks for an upcoming exhibition and series of works titled “Once upon a forest…- echoes and soundbites from a changing landscape”. The idea is to tell the stories of aspects of landscapes and ask viewers to contemplate their roles within those spaces.
The residency was used to draft artworks, draw up an exhibition plan and take photographs and video footage. The exhibition will include photographs, video, paintings, mosaics and sculptures. The innovation will be to leverage non-traditional media to create optical illusions of motion, dissolution, and illumination. Some works will be outsourced to be manufactured. The pairing of a conventional subject with unconventional materials will reinforce my interest in combining the natural with the industrial or mass-produced. The aim is to reference elements of nature, while reflecting on human-nature interactions. References to science and technology will be contrasting the sublime nature of landscapes we treasure with the reality of the effects we have on our surroundings through our everyday life.
Thank you all at Hambidge Centre for making it possible for me to have space and time to reassess my visual art practice. The residency has inspired me to follow new directions and the courage to express new ideas. It has been amazing to be welcomed so warmly by Christine and stay in beautiful remote Turner House, surrounded by forest, the sound of trickling waterfalls and the calls of bears. The evenings shared with other artists, conversations over food created by the wonderful chef Lori, and the feeling to belong to a worldwide network of creative thinkers was an experience I will always treasure. Thanks again and may many more artists enjoy the same privilege and flourish.