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So today is the first day out on my own again .  Being in the Arts office was great in many ways. Firstly it gave me a structure away from the family home and space to develop my thoughts, ideas and actual pieces. My own “studio” is now packed full of boxes, painting and other things I gathered like a magpie over the last 8 weeks. Working in the wonderful space in the Arts office allowed me to create  work that would only exist in my head or as drawings.  I challenged my own work processes and developed my practice as an Artist.

Mary Butler is very generous with her time. On Thursday  I had the opportunity to meet up and chat about my future plans. Mary understands the constraints that artist have in terms of studio space. This was a major issue for me as I just don’t have the room at home  to make this sort of work. I really want to continue with this work so space is important. On Saturday Mary rang me with good news. The Endangered Studios in Callan are willing to allow me to work there for 8 weeks:)

We also discussed the blog. This is my first time keeping a blog and at first I was unsure how to use the format.  I now realise how beneficial this blog is. It is almost like a creative diary. It allows me to reflect back on my practice as an artist, it helps me understand  my way of approaching new ideas and my way of working creatively.  The blog should be also helpful in writing the evaluation report.

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Today I cleaned up the last few bits and pieces that were lying around. It’s amazing how much “stuff” you can accumulate  in 8 weeeks. The room echoes alot now that it is empty.  Starting the residency I noticed the bare walls and not the echo. It’s funny how perceptions change.

There is a poetry launch of the Poetry broadsheet tonight so Mary suggested that I leave the spiral peat balls and the peat in thighs in the window. People are still coming in attracted by these pieces in the window. One lady said that she likes that I have used ordinary materials in a different way.  

Today is the last day of the “LandArt” . I don’t really know what term I should use. Landscapes? Nature art? Bog/ peat works? 

Anyway I started to clean the room starting at the back. I organised all the moulds, clay, tools, and paper and left them in a pile by the door. I was somewhat reluctant to stat to clean up the peat pieces. It was difficult for some visitors to understand the nature of this type of work especially it’s impermance. But this impermance is part of the process of making the work and growing seeds. Perhaps the difficulty for me was not the fact of the work no longer existing but the fact that I will have to leave this space . It was having this space that allowed me to challenge my own ideas on Land/nature art and to overcome my fears of not making something permanent. I would like to have the opportunity to further develop these ideas and this type of work. I now must think about how to make this possible. Although I have a large garden i don’t feel that it is an appropriate space to make this type of work. I am a social person and the hardest challenge for me is working alone in isolation. I benefitted greatly from the visitors who came to the Arts Office and I feel that this is an important element in creating work.

My brother and Ben came to help me clean up. It is amazing to see 7 weeks work cleared in half an hour. Ideas, thoughts and actual pieces take a long time to formulate and make yet in no time at all they’re s gone, only captured on video and  by photographs. 

Tuesday

Today I prepared the sections of the tree like forms so I could make a mould.

I rang Gus Mabelson the head and main tutor of The Pottery Skills course this afternoon to organise a trial raku firing as I want to make sure everything runs smoothly on Saturday. I will go out tomorrow afternoon to Thomastown with my sample glazes and tea bowls. I was up until 2.30 this morning( Wed) making the glazes as it has been a few years since I used the glaze materials si I first had to search for them in the shed. I dug out my old glaze reciepes I used in college too. It was hard to get up.

Wednesday

I spent the morning finishing the moulds and sanding them down. I did the usual watering and spraying of the growing pieces. People are still stopping outside and some come in to have a closer look. I sent out an email to all the people who made teabowls as a reminder that the raku firing will happen on Saturday.

In the afternoon I went out to Thomastown. As Gus was busy, a pottery student helped me set up the raku kiln. Then I waited and checked the temperature using a thermocouple and a 04 cone. As I was unfamilar with the kiln I followed the students advice so the firing took 3 hours. I finally got home at 7.30. The results were ok. The transparent glaze ran a bit and i think the firing was overfired. I made up 3 simple glazes- a copper, a white and a transparent.

Thursday

I rang Gus again and I arranged to go out tomorrow and have another trial run. I made up more glazes so it was another late night.

I have been thinking about the end of the residency. I don’t want it to be a complete end next friday. During my research on sand mandalas I found out that the Buddhists monks sweep up the mandala and hand out bags of it to people in the local community. I think this is a nice idea and it might be a way to extend the project further than the residency. I spoke to Mary Butler about my idea- Plant a seed and Tell a story”  of using the peat from the peat forms and make up paper bags of peat with a surprise  seed attached to a sticker with my email address. i would like people to send me a photograph of their plant and a little story of where they have planted it. Niamh was very helpful with sending out emails about Saturday and printing stickers for the bags with the information . Ben helped me fill up the “paper bags”- made from envelopes and sellotape and I went across to the garden centre to buy some flower seeds. I was feeling a little stressed that I would forget something on Saturday so I keep making lists of the things that I need.

I am going to launch this little project on Saturday.

Friday

This morning i went out to do another trial firing. I was out there until about 1pm. The glazes were successful although the bowls cracked when they were put into the saw dust. I picked up more saw dust in Kilkenny before lunch.

In the afternoon I had a appointment to meet Gemma Fullam of the Kilkenny Voice- a local newspaper. She had interviewed me during my second week in the Arts office. She read my blog and says that it is interesting. As she has never returned to an artist during the residency she thought it would be a good idea. I talked about how the work had progressed, the reaction to the work from the public, the positive and negative aspects to the residency. The only negative aspect is the fact that I realise how confined I am with space and I really enjoyed utilising the space in the Arts office. The postive aspects are many.  Mary was great to talk to when i felt stuck with an idea or when I wasnt sure If I should continue with another. Niamh was alway willing  to help with reading over an idea, printing out labels, sending emails, offering support and  generally supportive.

Niamh got a loan of large flasks for tea and coffee. The Arts office supplied the tea and coffee. I packed all these into the car and bought biscuits. I keep checking m list to make sure I havent forgotten anything.

It’s Sunday and It’s the end of a mad and hectic week. This was my last full week being an Artist in Residence in no.72 John Street. On Wednesday I will have to start cleaning up the studio space that means sweeping up all the pieces on the floor. Some people have asked if I am disappointed that they have to be destroyed. To be honest I am not really as I really enjoyed making them in the first place and I would like to be able to start fresh ones. Only thing preventing me at the moment is space as I couldn’t imagine these pieces on the wooden floor at home. Now that it is summer I might use the good weather to create pieces outdoors.

So back to the mad week.

Yesterday was the end to the mad week. About 20 people turned up in The Mill in Thomastown where I had organised a glazing of the teabowls and then a Raku firing. People started arriving around 12 and had tea, coffee adn biscuits ( finally managed to get the lid onto the big flasks). So after introductions, refreshments and a browse in the Pottery shop we went up to the glaze room where I showed everyone the process of glazing a tea bowl with the help of a friend who has many years of pottery experience. So while everybody got stuck into the glazing I started heating the Raku Kiln. Hopefully most of this was captured on video before the battery ran out. I took out my digital camera to take some photos but I forgot to put in the batteries( I always either forget to recharge the batteries or leave them behind) . There were alot of people with cameras so hopefully I will get the pictures so I can put them up on the blog.

Around 1.30 we were ready to put the first lot of tea bowls into the kiln. Most people had not seen a raku kiln before so there was alot of interest in it and in the process of firing one. I did try to answer the technical questions to the best of my knowledge and Christine was great to fill in the blanks. While the kiln was firing more people arrived so I enlisted the “new experts” to help with the glazing while I sorted out recharging the video camera. During the week I had emailed people suggesting that they bring a picnic but unfortunately the rain was so heavy for most of the day. Some people went off the cafe’s and resturants around Thomastown. I had my lunch at 5 provided by Tomm who was insistent that I should eat it. I was so busy I wasn’t even thinking of food- surprisingly!

I had about 4 raku firings in all. The first one was the slowest as the kiln needs to heat up. The subsequent firings took about an hour. We had only one explosion! Overall people seemd very happy with their tea bowl and with the results of the raku firing. There was alot of oohhh’s and aaahhh’s over the glazes.

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Art at No. 76

The aim and focus of the Art Residency at No. 76 is to enable the successful applicant to research and develop their practice. Other aims of the residency are to: give insights into how and why artists create their work, build relationships and further promote the Arts, provide an awareness and further appreciation of the Arts, cultivate and develop new audiences. The Kilkenny Arts Office is part of ArtLinks.ie

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May 2008
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