A Loungeroom Residency

Over the next week I will be undertaking an artist residency in my lounge room. It wasn’t planned, but an unexpected injury to my back has made it otherwise. The toughest call was having to withdraw from the formal residency I was about to start under the auspices of the Craft ACT Spring Residency. But then, I realised that I could undertake an artist residency in my own home.

Day 1 shadow photograph.

At this point I have to acknowledge that before I became concerned over my own temporary setbacks, I failed to acknowledge that many artists deal with such problems on a daily basis due to a whole range of physical, social or psychological reasons. I apologise.

A model, a theme

For my residency I have used the model proposed by Lenka Clayton for A Residency in Motherhood. Her model provides both a format and concrete examples of ways to work under constrained circumstances. This excellent resource was drawn to my attention by the fabulous Dr Ruth Hadlow whose master classes have been a major and ongoing inspiration in my work .

At this stage my daily exploration of shadows has become my default theme. I support this proposition by a quote from Ellsworth Kelly who said:

I realized I didn’t want to compose pictures, I wanted to find them. I felt that my vision was choosing things out there in the world and presenting them.


I have all the resources of my extensive library to select from and all my materials to use. I didn’t have to pack anything to take to this residency. If anything the greatest danger is paralysis from too much choice.

Day 2 shadow photograph.


The biggest limitation I have at present is my physical ability to sit up for only limited periods of time and having to be careful not to overuse my dominant arm. I have finally discovered using the microphone on my tablet in order to reduce additional stress through typing. It works! Sometimes.

Interruptions are another cause of problems I would unlikely to experience in a formal residency. Social media management is also a major issue for me.

Work so far

Yesterday I made some collages inspired by one of the photos I took earlier this week. I used a clothing catalogue, which I am inordinately fond of making collages with. I will show you these in a separate post.

Enough for now I need to rest up. I plan to attend a screening of a documentary on Rembrandt this afternoon. Hopefully rest and medication and my wheat bag will get me there.

I would be really interested to hear of your own experiences of working with limitations and constraints in making art.

D3 shadow photograph


I just wanted to say that I’m in good hands and my back issues seem to be slowly resolving so no need for anyone to worry about my condition.

Michael Brennand-Wood workshop

I had a tremendous day last Sunday doing a workshop with UK artist Michael Brennand-Wood, who is in Canberra as an artist in residence with Craft ACT.

The workshop was called Random Precision and was focused on “the construction of component parts that fuse at a distance into a coherent form.” Everyone was asked to make two,  3-dimensional or relief constructions, using fabric, thread, wire or whatever else we bought to the class. Given that my work barely moves off the flat plane I figured that this would be a workshop to challenge me.

A quick trip to the recycling shop at the tip the day before the workshop found me with two old wooden silk screen frames, which I figured, if nothing else, I could always re-use afterwards. I found the rest of my materials by roaming around the house picking up random bits of dyed fabric and string, embroidery cotton and other left over ‘art’ experiments.

My first piece, fabric embroidery cotton plastic and other bits.

My first piece, fabric, embroidery cotton, plastic and other bits.

I found that the element of depth in this piece really engaging.

Looking into my first piece, side-on.

Looking into my first piece, side-on.

Michael emphasised the benefits of photographing the various stages of the construction. Apart from keeping a record of the work as it developed, Michael suggested that by printing these photos and working into them, adding or subtracting colour, line or other images, they could be used to further develop ideas. Even putting the 3D work over the pages of my visual diary suggested new ways to approach my work.

My second construction held over my visual diary.

My second construction held over my visual diary.

Holding the two pieces I made together also demonstrated further depth and complexity.

Michael holds mt two pieces of work to demonstrate how these might work together.

Michael holds my two pieces of work to demonstrate how these might work together.

Apart from challenging us to work in a new way Michael was also generous in the time he spent discussing our work, both from the workshop and that of our current art practice. I thought that his very constructive (pardon the pun) approach and considered suggestions were particularly valuable as an artist working by myself.

If you are in Canberra Micheal will be giving a talk at the ANU School of Art at 1.00pm this Thursday 3 October. The work from Michael’s residency will be shown at Craft ACT in 2014.