Residency – Flannery O’Kafka

Flannery O'Kafka residency photo booth

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.

Flannery o'Kafka residency

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.

Flannery o'Kafka signing books with Simon McAuley The one you love is sick

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.’

Flannery o'Kafka residency

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.’

The Devil and Doreen Kay

The Devil and Doreen Kay painting

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
Exhibition Dates:
9 March 2019 – 3 April 2019
Opening Times:
Monday to Saturday 10-5pm, Sundays 12-5pm
Admission £6/£4 concession
Free for RSA Friends
Free on Mondays

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