ReConnect multi-disciplinary artist Lea Cummings took some time out from his drawing to share his residency experience with us.
You were part of our first round of residencies in 2010. How do you feel this one went, in comparison to your first residency here?
It’s been good, pretty similar in some ways, and very different in others. The things I’m working on are very different from what I did in my first residency, and the place is a lot quieter (the residency takes place in our ReConnect studios, where workshops run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays). Mostly I’m just keeping myself to myself, and do what I do. I’ve actually spoken to a few people that I had never spoken to before, even though we’re part of the same kind of workshops, but I usually just focus on the work. It’s not that I don’t like to talk to people, I just try to use the time I have here to make art.
One month is a very short period of time…
Yes, it went very fast. Time usually flies by when I’m working on these pieces. The things I was working on last time didn’t quite play with time as much, because it was more planned out, and I was trying to achieve something, whereas what I’ve been working on for the last few months isn’t like that. Time just speeds up and goes incredibly fast when you’re focussed 100% on what you’re doing. My work now isn’t goal based, I’m not trying to achieve anything, it’s not that kind of focus, there’s no anxiety attached to it. I’m just trying to discard all that way of thinking ‘is it good, is it not good’… It’s just about letting something flow, and covering the space. It’s really nice to work that way, there’s no right or wrong. And usually when I finish a piece I tend to like it a lot more than if I had planned it. I feel more detached and can almost appreciate it as if someone else had done it.
It’s interesting how you talk about filling space, because with your other work –audio work, performances- it’s conceptually also about filling a space, and inhabiting it.
It’s very true. These pieces I’ve been working on since ReConnect started relate a lot more to the audio work that I do, and some of my previous visual work. Most of my audio work is more like a stream of conscious collage, it’s not about writing a song with different parts and an established structure. I try stuff out, see what works and what doesn’t, using random things, it’s more experimental. So yes, it’s very similar to these works on paper. If you let your creativity flow, and don’t box it in by thinking too much, you get very interesting results in terms of what it produces. A lot of people have commented about the work looking like Aboriginal or South American art. If you look at artwork from different cultures throughout history, you can see certain similarities in patterns, colour combinations from people that have no physical contact with each other. It seems that accessing a meditative head state brings out universal patterns.
Talking about Aboriginal work, or folklore, they don’t really have any art history attached to them: the work is completely free, meditative, connected with nature, which seems to be what your work is attempting to do.
Absolutely, that’s exactly it. When you allow yourself that space, it cuts out all this noise, all this consumerist capitalist sh*t, it makes you focus on something a lot deeper that other cultures were closer to. If you can let your head state do that, it seems that universal things come out from it, which is amazing. You seem to tap into something very vast and intangible. I’m very interested in Rupert Sheldrake’s idea of a massive information field all around us that you can’t see but you access it every time you think, and by meditating you can pull things out of it. It explains a lot of phenomenon, and how when you do something creative you can feel things you don’t usually feel and you can express them in that way.
This is a very different approach from our previous artists in residence, who were very connected with the modern and virtual world, with their work being very organised and planned.
I’m naturally that way inclined, and I battle against it. There can be something very positive about being a planner type of person, it’s a good way of achieving things, but for me personally it’s also very negative, so it’s nice for me to do something outside of that usual way of doing things. It’s very easy to miss the essence of something and get caught in the mechanics of it.
Is the residency a kind of escapism for you?
Kind of, yeah. It’s good because it also has a set structure: for the most part I’m here at 10am and stay until 4pm. I’m always juggling a lot of projects at any one time, trying to make sure to spend enough time on everything so that it all moves forward as a whole, so it’s nice to have a month where it’s kind of suspended: I just have this one thing to focus on.
Where will you go from here?
I’m not sure, I don’t know. I think I’ll just keep going until I’m not feeling that ‘thing’ from it anymore, until it exhausts itself. Which it will do eventually, and then I’ll go on to something else. The way I feel does make a difference to the work as well: there are a couple of pieces that I don’t like, partly because I was overthinking them, and partly because I wasn’t feeling good when I was doing them, and you can really see that when you look at them. I believe emotions affect the physical world, and it’s why art has this sort of mystical quality: it holds something from its creator. That’s why mass-produced things don’t have that resonance.
The last couple of weeks, I have been doing some audio recordings in the stairs of the building as well. I like these hidden public spaces, they are public but very quiet, because nobody really uses them. I’ve been banging on the rails and produced an amazing sound in there, so I am now recording it and I’ll use it as an audio piece in the exhibition.
Lea Cummings will exhibit his work alongside the other artists in residence in our gallery in January 2014. He is currently working on a feature film with writer Sarah Glass, more details about the release coming soon.
Artist Simon McAuley has returned from his month-long residency, Celf O Gympas Gallery Wales, the abstract painter has rediscovered his aptitude for his degree subject; photography and has gathered lots of source material for painting on his return. Here are some photo highlights from his last few weeks in Wales...
26 July ~ "Pausing for a break at a track on Cefnllys Lane (a very quiet road). I took this route on three separate occasions."
27 July ~ "Collecting source photographs from the local park with practice support artist, Kumar Saraff."
29 July ~ "A long day cycling. Following a circular route through the village of Nant - glas."
"With exceptional warm weather and equally warm welcome from exceptional artists, my residency was a great experience. I have many memories to treasure."
Simon McAuley has just started his third week of residency at Celf O Gwmpas in Llandrindod, mid-Wales. He sent us a photo diary for his second week, and by the look of things, he seems to have a great time cycling about town and taking in the wonderful Welsh landscapes.
Sunday 21st july
"Morning in Llandrindod before the sun came out"
"Entrance to Metropole Hotel."
Monday 22nd July
"Climbing the hill behind the town."
Tuesday 23rd July
"A day spent with my practice support artist (Lois Hopwood). Painting, photographs, coffee and tea, and a walk up a hill, where I made this picture of Lois painting."
Saturday 27th July
"A cycle trip which took me through a valley with a nature reserve."
Sunday 28th July
"In the town of Llandrindod."
Simon McAuley has just arrived at Celf O Gwmpas in Llandrindod in mid-Wales, where he will spend the next three weeks as their artist in residence. The artist, who studied photography and whose work often has an allusion to landscape, will for sure be inspired by the scenery and architecture of the rural town. Celf O Gwmpas are providing him with a flat, a studio and a small stipend as well as access to their workshop programme.
Simon will send us regular updates and photos during the residency, which we will then post on the blog weekly. Today is his first day, and we already have two images for his photo diary.
Above: "A picture I made while contemplating the trip to wales and what I will do there."
16/07: "Lovely weather here in Wales. Nice breeze. Kayte met us at the station and we walked through the very picturesque village."
Project Ability are pleased to announce the artists selected for the Residency Programme 2013 are Ruth Ansell, Lea Cummings, Lorraine Hamilton, Nicola Henderson, Genevieve Kay-Gourlay and Jordan Kay and Linda Mahoney. Now in its fourth year, the residency is an initiative to support artists to develop their practice within a disability arts setting where artists are resident in Project Ability’s open studio for a short and intense working period of one month. The artists are provided with studio space, materials and professional development opportunities within the Project Ability community.
Ruth Ansell (May) is a textile designer and craft practitioner. She will use the residency to develop her techniques in photography, ink chromatography and light reflections applied to textile design. The residency will be focused on her interest in colour and textile recycling as well as sharing her extensive skill range with others.
Lorraine Hamilton (June) is a sculptor whose practice encompasses visual spectacle and tactility. During the residency she will undertake a sculptural exploration of the senses expanding on her interest in shared experience through art.
Genevieve Kay-Gourlay and Jordan Kay (July) are a sister and brother collaborative duo; they will use the residency as a context to explore their relationship as siblings and collaborators in an experimental idea exchange and coming together of two individual practices.
Lea Cummings (August) is an artist and musician who takes part in Project Ability’s ReConnect programme. Working in a wide range of practices including sound, performance, painting, animation and film, Lea will use the residency as a space for experimentation and exploration of maximalist pattern and colour.
Nicola Henderson (September) is a ceramist and aims to use the residency to experiment further with metamorphic open bowl forms, volcanic glazes as well as an investigation into the crossover between organic and decorative vessels with an in depth investigation into form.
Linda Mahoney (October) will use the residency to undertake a period of extensive research examining existential philosophical ideas about the construction of ‘self’ and the contemporary meaning of ‘self’ in the context of society constructs.
The artists will be exhibiting their new work in an exhibition at Project Ability Gallery in January 2014.
Image: Fraser Ross's Lab during his August residency
Our application process is now open! We are looking for six Glasgow-based artists to take part in our residency programme.
Artists will be given one month-long slot each, spanning from May – October 2013. They will be offered an open studio space, freedom and support to concentrate on the development of their work. Applications are particularly welcomed from artists who have a disability or from those who have a project that is specific to the Project Ability community and its activities.
For more info please visit our opportunities page.
Fraser Ross is an artist and designer based in Glasgow. His work his inspired by the unique plant life found only in Scotland, investigating human interaction through shape changing projects that explore and subvert the senses.
During his residency, Fraser created a chemistry lab of glass containers where tight clusters of matter gather and chase when a magnet is applied to their surface. These objects appear straightforwardly spectacular, in the way that they delight, intrigue and invite further investigation; yet their function remains conceptually elusive.
Fraser’s practice holds a great significance on design; in particular, the pursuit of function in formal terms of object specification, manifested by a person, intended to accomplish something. His combinations of paint, oil, magnetic liquids and water trigger strange and sublime chemical reactions. Collectively, the residency project appears as an arrested natural process of potential action. It signifies the organic processes that intrigue the artist but with the work itself operating as a scientific experiment, in which the viewer/participator is cast as the test. We caught up with Fraser at the end of his residency to find out more…
Can you describe what you’ve been working on during the residency?
“I’ve been using the residency to make objects and to keep making mistakes until I get it right. I haven’t made an actual final product yet and I am still looking for a solution and have a lot of ideas. I have spent a lot of the time thinking, what of this, what of that, exploring; my goal wasn’t to have a final product but undertake a period of research. I have been working with a combination of liquids and solids, bringing order to chaos through function.”
How did working in Project Ability affect this research?
“I have been influenced by what I see here and what I hear. I don’t have the wording yet for the product but I look around and there are so many people applying themselves to painting, and they are so focused. When I first arrived, there was a whole load of paints lined up over there, with the coloured liquid in rows and artists arrive, choose a colour, and utilise it to create something. The starting point of the project was looking closely at the environment around the residency space and the rows of paint tubs, liquids, paintbrushes inspired the early stages.”
The work space you have created resembles a chemistry lab, can you tell me more about these ‘experiments’?
“This, for example, is magnetic fluid, if you apply a magnet to it, you can manipulate the shape; it is about asserting an order over something - even if that only lasts for a brief second. I am drawn to organic shapes that reflect processes seen in nature and the idea behind everything is that ‘nature is manufacture’. Firstly you need an action to stimulate the object, make it perform its ‘function’ through different components. It is about looking at how humans interact with objects. I’m not trying to resemble the tree, like my last projects; instead it is an attempt at stripping back the layers to reveal the origins of things. The laboratory is where things originate from, or are discovered, and I am demonstrating the breakdown of that encounter. “
Have you had interest from Project Ability artists?
“I am used to working on my own; the problem there is that you can get far too close to the project. Everyone walking past sees something different and when I explain in 30 words what it is all about, it is enlightening to hear their alternative take on it. That is the great thing about working here, with artists who have so many different disciplines, practices, methods of working, thought processes - they create the product for you through different viewpoints and it’s that interaction I have used to shape this project.”
Function is very important to your practice, what is it you want the objects to do?
“I often find myself asking myself why it always has to have a function. I have used these materials, test-tube growing almost, in a desire to make a function but I am unsure of what that is yet. I aim to evoke emotion and design is always at the core of that and I guess that is where function comes into it. When I start working like this, it usually takes 6 months to fully realise a project, but I just make until the light goes on, the bell starts ringing and you get somewhere. It is also about an encounter, oil and water don’t mix but when you interact with the surface, they do for a brief moment. I am drawn to the concept that human interaction causes the function, it is the stimulus.”
Where is the project going from here?
“I want to create something large scale for the exhibition, the best way to tackle it is to create an installation that people can play with or interact with. I am looking at making one of these smaller objects wall-expansive, big enough that people can muck around with, change the shape and when you walk away your imprint disappears. At the moment everything exists in miniature pieces, it has helped to solidify my practice and I have enjoyed experimenting with colour within the containers. I have this object that you would usually find in the chemistry lab to test magnet strength but I want to step away from creating things that inspire play, I wish to create something more complex, progressing to the way organisms grow and through further investigation, understand the theory of function itself.”
In transporting his work from idea to reality, Fraser makes redundant objects come to life by human interaction. By exploring the transformative potential of the imagination and the fragility of human endeavour, he creates themes that effectively encapsulate the artist and viewer immensely. Fraser’s final product will be exhibited in the residency group show in 2013.
Can you talk me through what you have been working on during the residency?
“…I intended to open up a bit more but the first couple of weeks, I found difficult after finishing college, I struggled with inspiration out of that working environment. I starting painting the bottles of Irn Bru I drank whilst working here, it is related to my OCD.”
Suzanne paints the half-full partly empty bottles with a free energy and rich mining of these daily rituals. The genre of the still life has its historical origins with leftovers abandoned on crumpled, stained and crumb strewn table tops telling stories of an event; Suzanne’s working practice explores the possibility for anxiety, beauty and subversion through the discarded objects of consumption.
“…I used to just draw and it was my tutors that encouraged me to paint and I made my degree work with rags and the ends of paintbrushes. I also work better with a deadline and giving myself a plan that I worked to, opened up and working better than I was at the beginning.”
Has taking part in the residency been good for your confidence?
“Yes, I’m planning on working on canvas, painting the bottles and exploring repetition and series.”
What is it about Irn Bru that made you choose it as a sole subject?
“I just really enjoy it and it affects the way that I think, I drank it once and that was a good day. I drink it now because of the colour orange. The part of the brain that processes fear and anxiety appears orange in a brain scan and I find that really interesting. Also, I like the figure on the bottle; the right leg is behind the left as is his arm and that works best for me.”
Where will you go from here?
“I will spend some time developing; I have not quite found my style yet. I am also interested in exploring a career in art therapy.”Suzanne Wason will be exhibiting new work in Project Ability’s residency exhibition in January 2013. Forthcoming projects include a group exhibition at the RGI Gallery, Glasgow later in the year.
Following Simon’s third residency, we trace his thoughts and production from the first drawings in 2009 to where his practice is now. This most recent series of works represent a recent transition from drawing to painting and demonstrate a reworking of painting's conventions at their most radically reduced. In the artist’s own words, it is apparent that he is a painter for whom painting is an uninterrupted personal investigation. Simon tests painting's material and conceptual possibilities with the attitude “learning as you go along”. The prospect or outcome of his practice remains an open question; answerable only through the production of new works.
This is your third year as artist in residence in Project Ability. Did this particular time reveal anything to you about your practice that you didn’t know already?
Yes, year three. It is strange really, a number of things have changed. This is the place I have been spending most of my days and I have completed the first wave of paintings. I decided not to do any painting before I got here, one of the first days I was working, there were sparks coming from my head.
Can you tell me a bit about your transition from a drawing tradition to a painting one?
Things have taken a considerable leap in a painterly direction; I had anticipated for a while that would happen. I like that space between drawing and painting; it feels like a very ambiguous place. I think it was a seamless transition - I started to make a number of paintings and tried not to think too much about how the materials were going to fit into the previous work, into my previous drawings. I feel that I wouldn’t have known how successful I could be as a painter, until I had actually done a painting.
I always have in mind minimalist ideals and also how I can push paint. On the other hand, a lot of my decisions are quite personal; they operate as part of a more intuitive process rather than a theoretical one. With regards to a lot of the drawing I have done in the past, I enjoy making marks with paint a lot more in a way that didn’t with the drawings. There is much control involved in drawing, you can be free with paint and I like the idea that it is not a repeatable mark that can ever be reproduced again.
Your work has developed links with traditional painting. Are you happy to be seen as a traditional painter?
Looking back now I understand the drawings more and with painting, I have reached a phase where I don’t need that preliminary drawing stage. Even though I consider the paintings and the drawings to be different, I still consider the thinking to be the same. I work with happy colours. I like to be playful and really enjoy painting colour. When I make decisions it can be about happiness. I have deliberately used a lot of white to achieve a very pastel, saccharine, sweetie effect. When I think about colour, I first like to see how they behave with each other, think about what it is that I want the colour to do. I haven’t used oils for 20 years; oil gives me more control over the manipulation of the paint while I get a feel for my palette.
Your works are always untitled, is it because they have no representational meaning?Not at the moment. Landscape is still important in my work, I have still held onto that but that’s not to say that in the future those references won’t fade as the painting comes to the fore. Rather than thinking of a title, I work towards getting to a point where I think that a work is finished.
What are your influences?
Artists, Richter, Monet. I am interested in Monet because of the way he handles light. Not only painters, I am influenced by concrete poetry, minimalism, I have always wanted to be that kind of painter.
Where will you go from here?
I will continue painting.
Simon will be exhibiting in the residency exhibition, Project Ability Gallery in early 2013.
Next in our artwork of the week series, we bring you a recent drawing by Simon McAuley – our current artist in residence. Whether Simon uses painting or drawing, he is devoted to the aesthetic of illusion. Simon’s work is very intuitive and his use of line contains certain modular elements that hover between drawing and painting traditions. His works are small and large, solid and fragile, absorptive and reflective.
Stay tuned for an overview of Simon’s practice coming up in July where he will discuss how he spent his time on the residency!
How did working in the communal Project Ability space compare to an independent studio practice?
Our Residency Programme 2012 started this month with artist Lorraine Clark. Read more about Lorraine's experience and her practice here.
Lorraine Clark’s work will be exhibited in the Project Ability Gallery in January 2013 alongside the other artists participating in our residency programme 2012.
- Walking group - Week 7
- Young Talent on Screen - New advert for the Film Festival
- Great night with the Pastels at Mono!
- Volunteer Opportunities with Project Ability
- Slow Summit - Duncan Gray, Scott Smith and the Pastels in Mono
- Film & Animation
- Recruitment & Volunteering
- Trongate 103
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