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This residency was the catalyst for anew direction for my practice and has helped to give a clearer focus to my work. The research into the fibres answered some of my initial questions, but it also raised more specific questions related to skills and techniques that I needed in order to create the desired end results. How could I sheet form pulps that took ages to drain and how could I then work with these papers. Carriage House Paper Making Studio’s in New York would provide the answers to my questions.
A two-day course at Carriage House, in ‘Working with High Shrinkage Fibres for Sculptural Paper’ at the beginning of March answered all my questions and more. These new techniques combined with the research I undertook for the residency form the basis for my latest body of work.
The denim Dress: Restrict, Release, Express
Created in collaboration with Bernie McCoy for the Future Fashion, an Eco fashion show held at trinity College Dublin, Restrain, Release, Express, was featured in the Irish Times (April 13th p.4) Formed from the recycling denim jeans and abaca fibres, many of the techniques used when making this piece came directly from the research undertaken during the residency.
Photographs of this wearable sculpture will be sent to Levi’s in the hope that they might sponser a similar project.
I am at present working on a new body of moving sculptural work that will be suspended. It will be exhibited in Castlecomer Estate Yard for the Kilkenny Arts Festival.
During the six week residency I created a collection of linked pieces, inspired by the day to day transition from Autumn to Winter in Castlecomer Demesne.
Walking Through Leaves
This piece is made up of three, 4 metre banners, representing The Demesne as it moves from Autumn to Winter.
Using my samples a guide for my palette, I made up batches of abaca fibres, and used it as a base for the pieces.
The central banner was created with the abaca and straw pulp and over poured with plain abaca. The pulp was then embedded with found leaves, to create the effect of swirls of leaves falling in the Autumn winds.
The right hand banner is embedded with the Winter seed heads from cow parsley found along the woodland paths of the Demesne.
As the banners move and gently touch each other, they createa sound reminiscent of ‘walking through leaves’.
Abaca and straw with Maple Leaves
Abaca with Beech Leaves
Abaca and Winter Cow Parsley
This piece was also created by pouring abaca onto a screen. I then poured and painted pulps such as recycled denim, straw and flax, using string, barks and seed heads for texture.
It was inspired by the shapes that emerge from a Winter landscape once again the foliage dies back.
It was hung from a fishing wire, and moved in the breeze.
Moving Fragments (1m x 100cm, 50cm x 10cm, 10cm x 4cm)
These pieces were formed by pouring abaca and embedding wood shaving. They were hung from fishing wire and allowed to move freely, slowly twirling and relating to each other.
I tried projecting some of the images taken in the Demesne onto these moving pieces but the result was disappointing. I would need more technical know how to create the desired effect.
Then collection of pieces were hung in the studio in the Castlecomer Estate Yard so I could see how they related to each other. I was pleased with the individual pieces but was not sure how they really related to each other. On reflection I fell like In was trying to force the pieces to relate. Coming from a Theatre background, I think I was putting pressure on myself to ‘produce’ a ‘show’; this pressure was also interfering with my creativity. One important element to come out of this residency was that I discovered that it’s okay to create for myself, I don’t need to have an audience. The aim of the residency was to improve my practice.
Monday, 10th December
I have two dogs Rosie and Soarsia; they are walked every morning, meaning every morning before going to the studio I have the opportunity to walk, think and reflect. I find this one of my most creative times as it allows thoughts to flow freely as I unconsciously take in my surroundings. We always walk the same woodland circuit so I am able to view the day to day changes as we move from one season to the next. This is transgression of the seasons has always been a source of inspiration.
At the same time as I was experimenting with the above fibres I was also photographing the wood lands of Castlecomer Demesne and documenting the changing moods and gradual decay, as Autumn transgressed into Winter. I then played around with some of the photographs and printed on thin sheets of abaca that had been beaten for 2hours.
The results were very pleasing as the combination of the images and the translucent papers, represented the fragility of the landscape I was walking through. The quality of soft November light and the crackling sound of leaves under foot also echoed the sample papers that I was creating in the studio. It was a combination of these morning walks and the research in the studio, that became the inspiration for the bigger pieces created during the residency.
Moday, 3rd December
Working on the theories outlined above I then created similar samples using flax fibres, The end results created brownish paper that was not as strong as abaca. (See data file.) Each time I came across similar problems with sheet forming a pulp, so ending up with the results that were suitable for pouring and restrained drying, therefore creating papers that were translucent but had no movement.