I now sit in my spacious living room in Bristol instead of my little caravan underneath an oak tree on a nature reserve. My residency has finished and it is time to focus on making the artwork in response to my period at the Observatory. Before I left I saw a peculiar but rather beautiful tree which I had never seen, and realised I had passed it almost every day but had not noticed it before. This shocked me, but I realised its fascinating that a landscape takes time to know it well, not only quality of time but a long length of time, and it surprised me after eight weeks I’d still not noticed something so beautiful. I felt humbled that the landscape still had so much to give even after eight weeks of looking. Time is a weird ol thing, and eight weeks does not seem enough really; part of me would have been happy to just carry on observing but I was also ready to come home.
It has certainly been an incredible and unique experience and one that I will not easily forget. Each residency teaches you something different and I have certainly learnt more about myself as a person and more about myself as an artist. I now have itchy fingers to make, which is a wonderful thing. I really am looking forward to producing the final artworks to be exhibited in St. Barbes Museum in Lymington. The exhibition opens on 5th March and finishes on the 16th April. I am excited about my ideas and I think a lot more artworks than anticipated will come from my time on this salty landscape.
Throughout my residency I have been using Brian Eno’s ‘Oblique Strategies’ (subtitled Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas). Oblique strategies are a set of cards which were created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt and first published in 1975. Each card offers an aphorism intended to help artists (particularly musicians) think laterally and to encourage thinking creatively and differently to their usual patterns of contemplation. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to use the oblique strategies in a new environment, to encourage me to look and observe in a different way. I drew a new card each Monday.
Jilly’s Oblique Strategies
1. ‘Display Your Talent’
2. ‘Be Less Critical’
3. ‘Once the search has begun, something will be found’
4. ‘Is the style right’
5. ‘Magnify the most difficult details’
6. ‘A line has two sides’
7. ‘Find a safe part and use it as an anchor’
8. ‘Change nothing and continue consistently’
I found the cards really interesting and in an almost spooky kinda way I also found them to be in sync with what was happening to me either emotionally or creatively. I found a resonance with most cards, I enjoyed the way they made me think and look in a different way. I want to use them more and may think of a project in conjunction with them in the future.
I think as my days grew less and less I understood there were so many ideas that could have been explored and some I hope to look at in the future, but I am pleased with the ideas I left with. I have thoroughly enjoyed colour matching the sky and water with my 27yr old Dulux colour chart, it has been an interesting collection of data. I have also really enjoyed being out of the Christmas mayhem, no TV ads, no shops, no decorations, in fact nothing reminded me of Christmas as I gazed out at the geese and water before me. However about five days before Christmas, whilst I took my daily data of the colours of the sky and water, I did get the colour ‘Snowman 0005-R80B’ for the sky and ‘ Sleigh Ride 3502-G’ for the water, a very enjoyable moment indeed. It was fascinating that I asked a visitor to match the colours for me one day; they were colour blind so it became a unique glimpse on what colours a colour blind person sees. I am as of yet undecided whether their data will make the final artwork, but it’s certainly interesting.
My ‘Salty Shuls’ (maybe title, but definite working title) will be interesting to make. I collected nearly 700 finger prints in the end; my last actual count was 666, which was funny in itself, especially when a gentleman knew he was number 666 whilst printing. I am going to have to work very hard over January and February to get all the artworks I want, and again I’m really looking forward to working hard, often at the end of a project it can be a strange time so this need of focus seems a really positive start to 2016.
My black treasure I collected will be made into two artworks, namely “Once upon a time….there was a forest” and “Remnants of a pirate ship”. There will be enough for future artworks too and I am particularly excited (as well as nervous) about producing these. My Lymington ink has made me consider the uniqueness of making ones own drawing medium and I have taken much pleasure in using my Lymington inks. The treasure and the ink are particularly poignant for me as they are uniquely of the place, of the landscape, and for me this is a vital link to myself, the residency and the artwork.
Before I left Lymington I took the ferry from Lymington Pier to the Isle of White to get a different perspective. I had been watching the ferries daily, I liked the hugeness of them, they seemed so sturdy and regular especially when it was so windy and transient around me, and I actually found them quite comforting watching them in the distance. It was excellent to see the Observatory structures from the viewpoint that I’d been looking out to, and albeit the fact the wind was incredibly strong and it was raining, I still stood on the front of the ferries deck outside with my friend Lizzie and we grinned like Cheshire cats as the ferry made its way across. It was I have to say, exhilarating!
A different perspective really is the key here for all of my eight weeks. I have had the wonderful opportunity to view and be part of a life different to my usual. I have experienced some things that have been extremely hard like the death of my mother and extreme wind and weather conditions, but I have experienced many joyous and indescribable beautiful moments and encounters especially watching the birds around me. And to know it’s the closest I have ever felt to nature is just wonderful. The day before I left, Andy and I watched a Kestrel about 10meters away from us hover for what seemed ages, so close, so magnificent, so agile, so clever. Sometimes….just a “wow”….will only suffice.
Thank you all who have followed this blog, to all my visitors, for all my food and booze packages. One thing I did discover as I was given sparklers (thanks Emma), its fun when your peeing outside at night to take a sparkler with you, place it in the earth, light it, and watch it whilst one pees! Sparkler wees are the best!
In two months time I hope I can share some images of the final artworks. Wishing everyone a happy, prosperous and creative 2016.
With love and thanks Jilly x