At the end of last year, we welcomed in our studios the wonderfully talented Andrea, also known as Flannery O’Kafka, for a month long residency. Here she talks about her experience at Project Ability.
“I recently gave a talk and described Project Ability as ‘One of my favourite places in the whole world.’ For years as a family we had visited the gallery and bought things from the shop, but had never been involved in the studios. After I graduated from Glasgow School of Art in June, I decided to apply for one of the residencies and I’m so glad I did.
I hadn’t had a studio for a few months, so to be able to have a space to approach my research and work in was a great opportunity. I am mostly a photographic artist, so initially being surrounded by paint and clay was a bit intimidating. I wasn’t sure where to start, so I set up a makeshift photo booth. Spooky film night (a screening of Beetlejuice) proved to be a great time for portraits with many people coming dressed in amazing costumes and it gave me a chance to actually chat and get to know folk. For me, 50% of an artist’s residency is spent listening to people, another 25% researching, and 25% making. Although I made a lot of photographs, I also made so many new friends and learned so many new skills from the artists who take part in the Aspire and ReConnect courses: ceramics, drawing, printing, and painting.
Also, during my residency, Simon McAuley launched his book ‘Inside Outer Side out Inner’ at Project Ability. I contributed to the publication, which centres around the discussion of disability art and the term ‘Outsider Art.’ My writing focused on a text piece I had printed ‘THE ONE YOU LOVE IS SICK’ and included a selection of writing from my critical journal: ‘Picturing Suffering: stigmata, snapshots, and the family album.’
My two youngest children began attending the Saturday Create Classes while I was there and are attending them now after my residency has finished, which is great, because it means I still get to see everyone on a Saturday. I also plan to come back for the Thursday Night Social—I just really miss making in the space. I have ADHD and a lot of sensory sensitivities, but there’s something about the amount of space and the general mood that makes the studios a very easy place to feel settled in. Knowing that accessibility is a priority really puts me at ease. As my daughter Olive says about Project Ability ‘It makes me feel safe, and like I fit in.’
To be honest, I don’t think I’ve begun to properly process my time, the new skills I learned, or the work I made during my residency. I did some filming with the artist Richard Anderson that I haven’t even begun to edit. I have caring responsibilities at home that I jumped back into, so slowly but surely, I’m working with all of the material I collected. In the meantime, two of the photographic portraits I made with Project Ability artists Felix and Doreen will be shown at the Royal Scottish Academy’s New Contemporaries show as a part of my work ‘Party with the Devil: Nothing but the Blood’ which opens on the 9th of March. It’s a collection of 6 photographs as well as a curtain installation, and bridges the gap between old work, recent work, new work, and the future work I hope to make.”
All photographs courtesy of Flannery O’Kafka.
RSA NEW CONTEMPORARIES 2019
9 March 2019 – 3 April 2019
Monday to Saturday 10-5pm, Sundays 12-5pm
Admission £6/£4 concession
Free for RSA Friends
Free on Mondays