REFLECTIONS FROM OUR YOUNG ARTIST IN RESIDENCE ERIKA
September has been a busy month of settling in for me. Usually marked by the start of a new year in education, the month has felt unusual for me as this is the first time ever that I am out of education. I have been kept busy which has felt nice, and distracted from some of the weirdness of it. At the end of August, I started my new role as Young Artist in Residence with Significant Seams. Each month I am planning on writing a blog to review what I have been up to and as a reflection upon my time in this role. Since beginning my role I have also been awarded the Emerging Artist Studio Bursary at Positive Light Projects, so I’m really looking forward to sharing how my work progresses in the coming months!
In my personal project (one aspect of my artistic residency with Significant Seams) I have been taking the work from digital to physical, starting with a series of photos that I had been taking while completing my ‘38 Dartmoor Climbs’ project . The photos are documentations of the happenings and views beyond the rock face, giving a broader sense of place and marking the events and times of year in the long, ongoing project. They also are linked to a sense of wonder – I often photograph things that are peculiar or have come about by a process unknown to me. In this sense the photos often refer to some of the words I have learned and compiled into a ‘Granite Glossary’ (scroll to bottom) whether a visual representation of the word such as ‘Rock Basins’ or loosely linking to the meaning of the word such as the ‘Bond Stone’.
This linking of image and word wasn’t something I was consciously doing while out on the moors taking photos, and perhaps I subconsciously seeked out the words to describe what I was seeing.
Something that is present throughout the work I have done on Dartmoor is a sense of process; whether geological, biological or human (political? phenomenological ? not sure). Process, I am realising, is important to my work, whether it be the processes involved (in both movement and safety) in climbing a rock, geological process, art making process and the process of replication/interpretation from outside to inside.
Now, having a space to make work, I have started exploring the processes of indoor climbing – as a replication/training for the climbing of real rock and as a creation of new routes and sequences of movement. Indoor route setting is more akin to choreography than it is climbing a rock – on rock, the processes of weathering have created the cracks and features jutting out for you to hold. Indoors, the routesetter tries to replicate this movement through a series of 3d shapes made to feel like the different textures of rock. This very physical choreography is interpreted (climbed) very differently by different people. It is a sharing of a problem/proposal and a series of interpretations of it.
I’ve also been thinking about sustainability and the environment in relation to climbing. Normally, climbers are very aware and conscious of the environments they are exploring, and the community as a whole is good at repurposing old clothing and equipment too. Climbing holds are made of resin, and are collected in the hundreds by walls to make routes out of. Although they last a long time, they can shatter, and then are no longer useful. I’ve been thinking about these holds in relation to their strata – the rocks that they imitate – and how plastics and resins with long, slow decomposition lifetimes are not only replicating the geologic, but will also become integrated with the geologic.
These processes are also relatable to my life – finding a job, getting to know everyone, learning new skills and the ways of working in a new team. Learning new words and adding them to a glossary in my head, finding ways to problem solve collaboratively, and thinking about the future (positive) impacts of what we are working on. The idea of process to me is something that is ongoing and evolving, but consists of smaller, more manageable steps. I think sometimes we can get overwhelmed with the end goal or a change that has happened (finishing uni/school) rather than slowly working away at the process of reaching that goal.