Well. It’s been a while! Despite my best intentions to get back into a regular routine here, I’ve been consumed with getting things sorted post-exhibition-opening: clearing out the AIR studio for the next person, securing a second (small, but soon to be mighty) workspace so I can actually move between supplies, worktable, and storage (thinking ahead to when all the work comes down too!), getting new projects sorted and underway. OH, and catching up on all the other ‘stuff’ that has needed doing for the last while, and that I’d semi-successfully swept under the large carpet called “ignore.”
And these shifts come at an altogether appropriate point: the change to the long, dark half of the year here. That time if hunkering down, daylight saving, soup and stew, fires and sweaters and hot tea. I really appreciate that the residency officially had its end on October 31; a day of ancestors, of looking back in time and thought, that pause for review and acknowledgement before moving forward again.
SO – on with it, back to it.
First on the long list was to bid a fond farewell to my big residency studio, pack everything back into my original (somehow very much smaller than it was!) studio, and prep for the next Harcourt House Artist-in-Residence to arrive.
The AIR previous to me, Dave Janzen, had done a fantastic job of prepping the space for my arrival, and I only thought it fitting to extend that gesture – pay it forward, as the saying now has it – and do the same on my leave-taking.
So, out came the spackle, the sanding blocks, the primer and paint. Walls, once covered with charcoal dust, pushpin and nail holes, were now in reasonably sensible shape. Got the place swept and emptied too!
It was a little sad to say goodbye to this studio – I had spent many, many hours there making work. A bit odd too, to see the space so empty again (people keep telling me I made a lot of work this past year … I believe them now!!)
Some little gestures toward continuity in other ways were here too. Some of the previous Artists in Residence had left behind little tokens to signify their presence and work in this space. Tim Rechner (AIR 2005-2006) wrote above the doorway “keep building it up” … and no one has removed or covered that call to action and intent. I found it a good reminder on a number of levels, to be sure. Dave Janzen (AIR 2010-2011) left behind an image printed on a piece of corrugated cardboard: a quirky vintage image of a small boy in short pants, grinning in a most disturbing way from under an equally disturbing haircut (you can see the bit of card on the wall, beside the shelf in the picture above). I left a little something too: an experimental gel transfer on plexiglas, showing a series of nests in a bank of trees. These small things do far more than assert the ego-driven “I was here” – to me, to me they are marks of presence that address ideas of history and continuity in the art-making in that studio … they are an ongoing welcome, and an invitation to more.
Of course, doors often close and open simultaneously.
I was extremely fortunate that another studio came available in the building, just down the hall from my studio! I’d put my name in for a second space quite some time ago, in anticipation of needing the room after the residency finished, and especially after the exhibition work comes down later this month! I’m still very much in the early stages of getting things sorted, out of tubs and boxes, and into the “right” studio – this space will be for messy work, and my original studio will be a ‘clean’ space for storing work, drawing, research and writing, and printmaking. More pictures to follow of the new space, when it’s been sorted and painted!
This second space is also a marker of a different sort – it heralds the beginning of a brand new project! I will be sharing this space (and my original studio) with Marian Switzer to develop a photo-based body of work called YORK. I’ve discussed it a bit previously here – but there’s much more to come in the next while, as the work develops and the pieces fit together. Look for a static page and a separate blog on the project, coming very soon! I am really excited about the way this work is coming together already, and I’m really looking forward to digging deeply into it over the next while.
… and with that, I should really get on with the ‘to do’ list!
How moving it is to see your space – there’s almost a whole piece of work just in that idea, the sense of energy falling into and leaving, expectation, creation and execution, tidying up and moving on..so many spaces we inhabit are this way..and it’s lovely there are gentle marks of your presence there..you sound like you are in a very alive and exciting creative place at the moment, it’s very energising to read!
Yes, I agree completely, Cath. Fundamentally, what it’s all about I guess – the work, the prep for it, everything – is making small gestures toward capturing moments in the process of being … it’s a bit like trying to grab smoke or fog, sometimes, but others one comes a little closer. All always process, yes? And thanks for the thoughtful comments – it’s good to be able to share the ride, and I’m so happy to hear you find my ramblings energizing to read!
The turn at the end of fall / beginning of winter has always felt like a significant transition for me as well, it is a good time for germinating new things for the spring; I can’t wait to see more about your next project with Marian! And hopefully with some holidays coming up we will get a chance to connect….
Thanks Trisia! Would be lovely to connect with you – let’s make that happen.
Great post, Sydney. Shifting with the seasons.
I’m looking forward to watching your new work develop.
My thanks, Karen. For those of us in urban environments, I think it’s far too easy to get disconnected from the significance of natural cycles, how those rhythms can have deeper impact than simply a grumble about snow on the daily commute. How often do people stop to consider the profound silence that accompanies the snowfall … or that all life and growth has its beginning in at least relative darkness: the earth, the womb?
I’m looking very much forward to your feedback on this next project! Best to you as well!