The job of an artist in residence is to try to identify and then interpret and communicate what it is about a place that is special, interesting or unique and it’s a great experience to spend time exploring a place, soaking up the atmosphere, meeting people and looking at the way things work.
After some time and lots of research, ideas and themes start to crystallise and bubble up from the subconscious and the work evolves out of this – unique to that place. Well, one of the things that I keep coming back to when I look around Loch Leven and see the various animal and plant populations and the work that the reserve officers do, is balance. Everything is in such delicate balance. I’ll come back to this in a future post because it is this balance and interconnectedness that informs the main work I’m planning.
At the beginning of the residency I started noticing visual metaphors for balance around the reserve and became interested in leaning branches – those branches that break off, fall down and become caught in the tree somehow. They are interesting because they are a chance, freak happening. They are precarious, often rather lovely and they make the branch look very different (always good to look at things in a different way). They are also a vital part of the ecosystem in their role as dead wood. I found a good one and decided to paint it so that it would stand out, revealing it’s shape and structure in a way that is often missed when it blends into the rest of the woods.
The results were interesting – when I identified the branch it was still winter and there was little greenery (see first photo). When I painted the branch the ferns had started growing – I hadn’t anticipated the ferns would grow around the branch adding their texture and colour. One of the most exciting things about art is that at some point the work takes on a life of it’s own and if you are lucky becomes more than what you anticipated.
Well, sadly, the branch did not last long and these photos are all that’s left of it. With that in mind, I think I’ll call this work ‘Phantom Limb’!!
My research so far has generated lots of interesting photographs and I’m hoping to put on a small exhibition – will post dates soon. I’ve also been out and about in different parts of Scotland, exploring other nature reserves and national parks and I’ll be blogging about these experiences over the next few weeks.