Residency : Linda Mahoney - October, 2013

Our last artist in residence this year is recent graduate Linda Mahoney. Here she tells us about her work and her experience at Project Ability.

You have been here for nearly a month, can you tell us more about what you have been up to?
First of all, before starting, I did quite a lot of work researching into the ideas that I had initially proposed (Linda proposed to explore existential philosophical ideas about the construction of ‘self’, and the prescriptive contemporary meanings of ‘self’ and from this research to explore ways in which people can deconstruct prejudiced attitudes.) Of course, when you look into existentialism, it is absolutely enormous, so I focused on Jean-Paul Sartre: he was looking at the self as an authentic being, and that we should endeavour to be authentic in ourselves and to others. It’s quite a humanist take on things, which I like. From that point, I started looking at the wider context of the self, in terms of the social and psychological things going on in the world. Those issues have always been part of my practice, looking at prejudice and how we are socially constructed. I started to look at some imagery, and tried not to get too caught up in my research but to actually start making work.  Prejudiced attitudes to me are socially constructed mainly through the transmission of ideas from society, parents, culture and the mass media.

Research can take over sometimes, especially with such a vast subject.
Yes, research has always been one of my strengths, but I sometimes get caught up in it for too long, so it takes up too much time.  So this time I knew I had the ideas, the imagery, so with some research done, I just got on with it and made work. I looked at the connections between the self and the outer world, which I see as quite broken:  how we are breaking the planet with global warming for instance. I looked at this as a reflection of how we as a species and culture are also a bit broken. I looked at imagery of breaking, fragmenting, and cracking, that was my starting point.

From that, looking at your drawings and prints, some abstract shapes are emerging.
Yes, I wanted to loosen up with these drawings. I started looking at the San Andreas Fault line, this big crack in the earth. Although it’s a natural phenomenon, I really liked the imagery, it really inspired me, so I transferred this fragmentary shape into my drawings and prints. I really wanted to use drawing as part of my working process in order to see where it could take me.

It seems that you started with the self, but you then went a lot more outward looking, though still self-reflective.
Yes, still looking at the idea of self, while reflecting on the wider picture. For instance, I have been looking at breaking, cracking and fragmenting as a metaphor for the self and the world being broken.  Looking at images of the broken planet as a metaphor for how the human condition is a bit broken.  There is a broken building outside, being smashed down, and I find it fascinating, as it really connects with my theme. Seeing this building come down, you see deconstructed lives, rooms, and time. I couldn’t help myself and had to play with that imagery.

Have you been working with dry-point?
I began with some dry-point and then went on to use waterless lithography. It’s touch and go, and can be very frustrating, but I love it. I did an etching class at the Print Studios in parallel with the residency, and made some work there. It went hand in hand with the residency.

You graduated in June. How was it to go on to being in residence here?
It was really good, because when you come out, you ‘enter the abyss’. You’re in the real world… So to be invited to do this residency was fantastic, it gave me a goal. I was thrilled to do it.

Have you had much interactions with the artists here?
Yes, I got to know folk. I invited people to look at the work, and had very positive feedback. It’s been great, meeting people and getting an input from them. It’s also been great to see the work they are doing like the pet portraits.

What are your plans for the exhibition?
I shall be exhibiting some prints and some sculpture.

What are your plans after the residency?
I will continue to develop my working practice while developing my skills in printmaking, sculpture and other media.  I’ll also be applying for residencies and opportunities for exhibiting my work and working with other people and groups.  I am also interested in doing some workshops and teaching, and possibly some voluntary work.  I am really into what I am doing at the moment, and where it’s going. I started off in quite a different place from where I have ended up.   Focussing on ideas of the self and prejudiced attitudes, as well as existentialism was a great starting point for my work, quite different from the wider metaphor and this worldly theme, but for me it’s all connected, and I can really see it come together. I will definitely carry on with the themes of this work.

Linda's work will be exhibited in the project Ability gallery in January 2014, alongside the other artists in residence.