For three months, and its running away fast, I have been artist in resident at Canberra Potters at Watson art centre in Canberra, which has 5 dedicated ceramic studios, a large kiln room, glaze room, materials room and two large workshop spaces. Having the space and time to experiment and therefore expand the understanding of what i do and how i do things has been invaluable. Many months ago I wrote on a small piece of paper what I wanted to achieve during the stay – find a way to make larger pieces, teach and share a little and begin a new body of work for my upcoming solo show at Narek Galleries in Bermagui this October. What I have done is a little bit more than that…and a little bit different……
There is a funny thing that happens when you’re working away in the studio, every day, consistently and uninterruptedly – it gives you the freedom to experiment. it’s in that space that experimenting and mucking about, trying new things, being adventurous and sometimes a little risky, where things start to happen. Most of the time my plans for narratives and forms sit within a safe place, the boundaries of which are defined by what I’ve done before – with my sketchbooks sitting on the table and the knowledge of what forms fit the narratives I’m working on in my minds eye and my hands. Still, everything swims in a sea of experimentation when you have the time. I began to use my tools in ways without thinking, just experimenting, I started to become aware of what it was I was good at and what I could stretch or expand. I started to build shapes that I’ve never imagined before and I began to add to them, just to see what would happen…. admittedly some were more successful than others…….if black was sharp and defined here, why couldn’t it be scattered and expressive there? If drawing was my aim and the image was my connection to form, what would happen if I took that theme literally? So a bridge started to appear, carrying people and especially the contents of the bowls from one place to another…then the lines started to disappear and the form started to have space to speak….What would happen if…. Questions where allowing themselves freedom which I’d never let through the light of day before.
Experiment 1n. test or trial (of); procedure adopted on chance of its succeeding
Inside the dictionary definition of experiment is a key word…..chance. In a philosophical mood I could say all of studio time is reliant in a large part to the element of chance. I think this word calls for more thinking and writing. However, for now, I wanted to expose my discovery and pleasure in experimenting. To be honest, although experimenting offers freedom and the ability to try new things, its also in those new things that challenges and fear arises. What am I doing has been a recurring question over the days and months, as has, am I supposed to be here or have they got me mixed up with someone else? That’s the ‘imposter question’ which most people have experienced. I know that one from my PhD studies!
In a few weeks, I’ll need to pack up the studio, clear out the fridge in the apartment, and return to my studio and home in Melbourne. Feelings can’t be packed into a box and put into the car, like the clothes or the pots I will return with. Yet, feelings can be remembered, ideas can be stored in sketchbooks, different approaches or techniques can be invoked by attitude alone. My time at Watson has been invaluable, not so much for the end results, but for the learning it has afforded me; that experimenting is a relevant and vital process to growing ideas.