I was reminded yesterday that I’d abandoned this blog at the edge of a North Sea cliff almost a month ago. It’s just that what happened next was almost too rich for me to digest.
I’m back in Portland but still mulling the time I spent watching fifteen artists-in-residence push themselves off various conceptual and technical edges in the course of the ten day program.
In Lybster, the starting point can be predictable. Considering that this is the cold, northernmost county of mainland Scotland, that visual reference point is frequently the chimneys. What architectural element speaks more immediately to us of home, hearth, community? And what part of a structure best survives time, wind, and rain than the chimney-topped gable walls of an old stone croft house?
So, as I started to explain a month ago, the latest In Place residency began for me and for the 15 residents at Achnacraig, one of the three sites chosen by residency site coordinator Karlyn Sutherland.
But from there the activity veered and whirled and dived into as many depths, layers, and corners as there were artists at work.
Some went into the weathered surfaces, some peeled back the wallpaper, some played with the clouds.
I watched one move from what she called her “comfort zone” of recognizable forms and methods through deconstruction, reconstruction, and material exploration. I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m posting some of her way stations here.
Where she went with the work in the short time spent in the residency speaks more than I can write about what this kind of program is about: developing one’s own visual message. Looking at ideas and materials from all sides. From front. From back…
And being willing and open to share and defend the ideas and methods with others.
Removed from distraction, at the edge of the earth, engaging with the unknown, with oneself, and with a community of like-minded artists – this is where breakthroughs happen.
In Place 2011 was over all too soon. But in truth, it’s only just begun. Yesterday in Portland I sat next to the resident (whose working process I’ve pilfered above) at another artist’s Resource Center talk. We’re both now thousands of miles from that North Sea cliff, but she’s still pushing herself. And I’m still ecstatic to be watching the journey that she started on a cliff on the other side of the earth.