The blog posts have been missing in action here over the past few months as my time on Eye of the Corvus intensifies. I’ve been putting my energy into the website dedicated to this project, including two blogs — one about the project, and the other about my time in Iceland and travels across Scandinavia on the way there (August to October 2019).
The highlights of the past four months have included not only a fabulous month-long holiday of travel from Finland to Iceland across Denmark, Sweden and Norway (mostly by train), but some serious art-making output along the way and in the months following the holiday.
Arts Territory Exchange (aTE) exhibition, Cambridge UK, 6-8 September
My current aTE collaborator, Andrew Howe (Shropshire UK), and I were part of a two-part exhibition in Cambridge UK, curated by collective Art Language Location around the themes of land, ownership, property, common land and rural urban tensions. Our part of the show was at Cambridge Artworks Artspace over the weekend of 6-8 September. A series of digital photographs presented as giclée prints and titled Within Walking Distance, we exchanged photos from walking routes close to home and identified distinct palette differences through pixelation, determined by light, season and climatic conditions. Characteristic colours are identified subjectively by ocular inspection with reference to “Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours”. We’d been working on this idea for a few months but the decision and coordination of the work for aTE’s Put this in your window and think of me exhibition came when we were all in transit somewhere around the world. Not ideal, but it just goes to show you can pretty much work anywhere!
Nes Artist Residency, Skagaströnd Iceland, September – October
Going to Iceland has been a long-held dream of mine. I absorbed anything Icelandic for about five years before actually stepping foot in the country. My acceptance into the Nes Artist Residency was within weeks of the 2019 dates opening, so it was a long lead-up. I’ve documented the highlights of being there as an artist fairly extensively on my Eye of the Corvus website, but in short, it was really a once in a lifetime experience. To have two months to slowly absorb another culture is a rare thing these days.
I had to work around the clock before leaving to be able to stay there for that period, and I was homesick by about the six week mark. However, despite a few hiccups that come with sharing a space (house and studio) with 10-12 people you may not really get on with, being forced to explore a landscape and community on foot for an extended period of time was something I won’t forget. Everything slowed down – my heart rate, my thinking, my expectations. I read 16 books over the three months I was away – books I may have skimmed over even if I thought I had time to read them at home. And I made friends and contacts from all over the world – the US, Canada, Germany, Spain, Peru, Brazil, Ireland, the Philippines – each making their mark on me in one way or another.
This was my first overseas residency and the second longest one I’ve undertaken…but it’s just the start of more as I explore other landscapes that offer insight into our place in a rapidly changing world.
Cementa Festival 2019, 21-24 November
Three weeks after getting back from Iceland, I was in the car and on my way to Kandos in Central NSW for the 2019 Cementa Festival. The work I created for the Andrew Frost curated show had been started in June with a three-day visit to Kandos to gather field recordings. The last of the five sound narratives, Sonic Territories: Kandos were finished in Skagaströnd, Iceland during my residency there. I haven’t missed a Cementa Festival since the first biennial in 2013. Prior to this year, my last showing there was in 2015 with a multi-media installation, Indicatus.
The thing I love most about this event is not even so much the artworks — although I do have some favourites from over the years, but it’s the conversations had with other artists while I’m there. I’ve made friends through this event and subsequent trips back to Kandos, and I never fail to come away from each festival with new contacts and interesting people to follow online. Since 2013, Cementa has used the slogan “Cementa friendship” – it’s become one of those self-fulfiling prophecies.
Eye of the Corvus, exhibition preparations continue
As November draws to a close, the deadline approaches for my two-year project Eye of the Corvus to cease being a project and transform into an immersive exhibition. The exhibition opens on 14 December and there’s been essays to write and rewrite, a catalogue to finalise and print, invitation details to finalise, media commitments to fulfil, as well as finalising the videos and sound, work out the install and tech logistics, and then finally putting it all together.
You don’t realise how much the grind of real life impacts on your art practice until you’ve had two months when it doesn’t. I’m now juggling commitments at home as I try to get things finished. The energy levels are low (partly thanks to two weeks of jet lag and the rest because of horrendous late spring weather), the allure of relaxing into the summer with more books is strong, and 2020 projects are also now in play. But, I’m a deadline-driven individual who knows that the closer I get to that transformational date, the more focused I’ll become. But please, watch this space!
Eye of the Corvus: Messenger of Truth – 14 December 2019 – 2 February 2020, Western Plains Cultural Centre, Dubbo