Hello, could you tell us a bit about your practice?
Hello – I’m an artist based in North-Northumberland, I predominantly work on a stretch of coastline close to where I live. I’m especially drawn to the liminal space between high and low tide – viewing it as a ‘no-man’s land’, reclaimed by the sea twice a day. This space was my playground as a child, it’s also a place where generations of my family would have worked.
I’ve used the phrase ‘between reverie and endeavour’ to describe my practice recently, I like the idea of these two states being intertwined.
I favour direct and intuitive processes, perhaps to reflect the coastal landscape in which I work. This is manifested within mark-making exercises, my use of shoreline materials and preference for analogue projection equipment.
To counter the sometimes solitary nature of working rurally, I curated two group exhibitions in 2017 entitled ‘Materiality’, the second of which took place on Holy Island. This was a hugely ambitious project and I was delighted to secure funding for it to happen. The five artists were fully committed to the project, working hard to produce thought provoking and visually stimulating works that engaged with the island’s history and geography.
I have recently worked with organisations such as the North East Photography Network and Berwick Visual Arts. This summer I was an artist in residence at my old primary school. ‘(re) – purpose’ utilised plastic objects found on the coastline in a series of automatic and kinetic drawing processes. The accumulative nature of the mark-making drew parallels with the never-ending glut of plastics washed ashore daily.
What are you exploring at the moment?
I’ve been exploring the Japanese concept of ‘Ma’ — translated as “gap”, “pause” or “space”. ‘Ma’ can be interpreted in many different ways, such as the interval that comes when our out breath has finished, but the in breath has not yet begun. Or the moment a wave reaches the end of its journey before dissipating into the sand.
Themes aligned to ‘Ma’ – the space between objects, the silence between sounds, or the stillness between movements, have been applied to ‘Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stones’, a project initiated by Nicole Watson, choreographer and director of Surface Area Dance Theatre. The project exists as an enquiry and process of choreographic research, centred upon an experiential understanding and knowledge of British Sign Language, D/deaf culture, Japanese culture and Butoh. It’s been very exciting to work alongside Nicole, dance artists Alex Rowland, Charlie Dearnley, Chris Fonseca and sound artist Tom White. My role as visual artist entails sourcing materials to create backdrops and stage sets. During performances, I’ll project imagery via two portable slide projectors.
I’ve also been using the portable projectors at night on the coastline. The equipment has opened up a realm of possibilities for creating transient, projection based works outdoors, which I intend on exploring further.
Have you found there’s anything in particular that has influenced you over the years? What inspires you?
Growing up close to the sea induced a deep emotional connection to the coastal space. The horizon-line was constantly visible, as such it was the starting point for early works – the paper surface always felt reassuring once the delineation of space was made.
One of first things to have an impact on me visually was receiving a carrier bag of 7” punk singles, when I was around 7 – 8 years old. I was particularly captivated by Jamie Reid’s collages for the Sex Pistols.
The first artworks that made an impression on me at college were Robert Rauschenberg’s screen-prints and Margaret Mellis’ driftwood assemblages. Mario Giacomelli’s high-contrast photographs of twisted metal and weathered walls; sometimes including a series of props as recurring motifs. Robert Frank’s later works in Nova Scotia – writing and painting over his photographs, placing them in the landscape and re-photographing.
Where do you work?
My studio is a converted outbuilding on a working farm, close to the Cheviot Hills and Holy Island, I’ve been there since 2011. The studio is an extremely important space in which to think as well as make. There is a distinct lack of studio spaces of any description in small towns, so I’m extremely fortunate to have found it!
I think in a way the space has conditioned the work I’ve made whilst there. For example in the winter, it’s best to be active so processes have become increasingly more physical. In the summer, I like to work outside in the courtyard, firstly to enjoy the fine weather and secondly to trial ideas for works that are reliant on the elements to activate.
What’s on your bookshelf and what are you listening to or reading at the moment?
In Praise of Shadows – Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Sensitive Chaos – The Creation of Flowing Forms in Air & Water – Theodor Scwenk.
Square Circle Triangle – Bruno Munari
The Void in Art – Mark Levy
Under the Sea Wind – Rachel L. Carson
Chihei Hatekeyama – Afterimage
Alice Coltrane – Monastic trio
Arve Henriksen – Chiaroscuro
Harold Budd – The Room
At the studio I listen to spotify downloads through my 70s amplifier and speakers. I also have my old cassette tapes there too, it’s nice to re-engage with a more tangible format! Today I’ve played my 20 year old copy of ‘Plight & Premonition’ – Holger Czukay & David Sylvian’s sublime ambient collaboration.
Could you give us between ten and twenty words that define your practice?
Projection, film, reflection, mark-making, visceral, intuitive, playful, serendipitous, kinetic, reverie, endeavour, inter-active, quixotic.
Where can people see your work?
I’ll be projecting imagery at Northern Stage on the 2nd and 3rd April. ‘The Other Side of Me’ is a multidisciplinary project, honouring the tragic story of a young part-Aboriginal man born in Australia and adopted by an English family to be raised in the Cornish countryside. The collaboration fuses indigenous Australian dance practice with physical theatre and written words. Exploring relationships between country of origin, adoption, displacement and psychological health and issues related to identity, space, place, ‘hidden histories’, estrangement, and perceptions of ‘the other’.
The aforementioned ‘Behind the Surface of a Rock Throwing Stones’ premiers at Dance City on the 6th June. Other performance venues in the North-East include: Berwick Gymnasium Gallery and Durham Cathedral. See www.surfacearea.com for details. Also my website – www.thedgeofmeeting.com.
Our last featured artist, Siȃn Hutchings, asked, “What platforms do you use to distribute your practice?”
Instagram has been a useful way to communicate ideas with artists I’m collaborating with. Also to highlight exhibitions and participatory projects I’ve been involved in.
I’ve been thinking about exploring more tangible ways in which works made outdoors (and the resulting documentation) can be distributed and perhaps come full circle and be encountered in the landscape, perhaps in print form.