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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.

I tidied up the twigs piece. I didn’t really like it. It was only a mock-up for a ceramic sculptural piece and it stayed longer than it should have. I did rescue the grassy centre and made a new form. I also created another new form using the peat, stones and grass seeds and eventually I will connect them up.

The studio is really filling up. I like the visual effect of the pieces working together. The grass and peat balls hanging from the ceiling bring a different element to the work. People are encouraged to look closely at the grass, the hanging forms are at different levels.

 

It was a busy day for visitors, I suppose the Rhythm and Roots festival brought a lot of people into the town.  

 

Today some students from the Ormonde College of Art visited the studio. I spoke about my work in progress.  

 

People who come into the space tell me how the work reminds them of something from their childhood. A finnish lady came in and loved the grass and peat balls. They remind her of a finnish tradition of  putting grass on a plate at easter time and putting it under the bed in the dark. When the grass grows, they would place chicks and rabbits in the grass.  

Other people have memories of forming mud into balls and mud pies and setting up shop to ” sell” them. This communication with people and the sharing of stories is becoming an element of the residency that I would like to explore in the future.  Niamh ( arts administrator ) has also commented on the number of people who stop and look in the window. People seem genuinely interested in the work. I feel it is  is a combination  of shared experiences of the materials and how we relate to them that attract people.

I want hang the graas and peat balls on fish gut. I spent this morning running around looking for materials. I thought that I could use ” washers”  or something similar to attach to the fish gut so the peat balls would have support from underneath.  I went to Woodies and got so side tracked with the aisles and little containers of ” things”. I did buy some washers and felt pads. I also went to the pound/ euro shops but no luck. Finally i went to Bretts hardware. Here I was given the idea to make my own washer from a lunch box and make a small hole to thread the fish gut through and secure it with a knot. You’ d be amazed where you can get ideas from and the owners were so helpful. I managed to make one hanging piece before the students came from the Ormonde College in the afternoon.

Yesterday Niamh helped me prepare for the visit of the local art college to the studio. We made a list of questions staring from

my development as an Artist on leaving college?

how I got to no.72  as an Artist in residence?

 why I wanted to do the residency?

did my ideas change from my original proposal?

 what artists influenced me/ sources of inspiration?

 why did I chose to use sand, peat and stone?

 how has my interest in art in the environment developed?

  how has the space allowed me to develop my work?

 what am I going to do for the last few weeks/ after the residency?

how important is documentation of art work/ environmental work/ nature based work?

how important is the process?

what are the benefits of the residency, having a space,  keeping a blog?

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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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