Hrísey for November

I am currently on the island of Hrísey, in Iceland, for a month-long residency with Gamli Skoli. The town is very small with only 160 residents, and very few distractions other than the amazing landscape. I’m hoping this isolation will help me focus on making work.

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My shadow in front of Pierre Coulibeuf’s installation at the Reykjavik Art Museum

This does mean a big change in the way I have been working, since I was not able to bring all the supplies and sources I would have if I were at home. There is no store to get supplies on the island, so what I have packed is it. I think this will really help in forcing me to simplify, and focus on drawing and cyanotypes. Hopefully these restrictions will cause a bit of a challenge, leading to some more simplified work.

 

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My desk, after the first snow of the season

I am setting some guidelines for myself, to be as productive as possible, as I work on a Task 2, 3 and a project for the Arts Board of New Brunswick. These guidelines include spending time in the studio everyday, but also ensuring I have time to be outside, read and research. They also include leaving time to play with materials, and starting each day in the studio with an exercise (making a postcard sized drawing) with no pressure to warm up.

I have been thinking about Sister Corita Kent’s studio rules for the Immaculate Heart College Art Department. I love that she creates these rules, but they are fluid, and changed from week to week, and always have an undertone of encouragement, rather than to dissuade action.

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Sister Corita Kent’s studio rules for the Immaculate Heart College Art Dept.

I think “rule 8: don’t try to create and analyse at the same time. They are different processes.” Is such an important guideline that I often let get in the way of my making Often, I am trying to analyse while I am creating, which just causes too many questions and self doubt. Or, I am creating while I should be analysing; I will think for not long enough, before I just in to try and change the work.

Her rules embrace uncertainty, which is something I have been feeling so much of the last few weeks due to travel, but also in my practice. Through this embrace of uncertainty, I think she helps point to being aware of everything going on around you, and work ethic as an answer to this uncertainty.

Uncertainty seems to be playing a larger and larger role in my work. I have been questioning whether instead of trying to organize things into comprehensible accumulations, that maybe I should try and work against this, and just allow the work to have an element of uncertainty. That space, where I am out of control of the reading of the work is tantalizing… hopefully I can get there through the guidance of these rules, and the program.

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