Arriving at the Cylinders Estate; the location of Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn in Cumbria, last Monday was like entering a little bubble. A bubble where life is simple and pure.
Fellow artist Alana Tyson and I were to be artists-in-residence for one week (13th - 19th October) in an attempt to push ourselves, our practices and perhaps an opportunity to spend some time together. I could have gone alone, but didn't want to, I felt that the opportunity would be perfect for the both of us and that the critique and conversation that we would engage with together would be helpful.
As soon as we arrived Ian Hunter gave us a tour of the grounds and then left us to it. It was time to explore. We made our beds, brought our (limited) bag of equipment into the residency space, unloaded our shopping for the week and made some lunch. It was glorious to just be able to sit outside and eat. A pleasure I rarely have at home as I am without a garden.
There was a synergy between the indoors and the outdoors. Where the outside space acted as another room. I would step from one 'room' to another as I do in my house, except in this instance I was breathing in fresh air and sitting on a bench.
I love the outdoors and wish I could spend more time in it. Just by having this simple pleasure I was starting to think about my future; where I might like to life one day; somewhere more rural perhaps?; How important was outdoor space to me? Very! etc, etc. How does living in the city effect my work and ideas? I tend to move too fast!
After lunch it was time to get to 'work'. But in this first instance, work did not mean making art, it meant the daily chores of living in the natural landscape. We chopped wood for the log burning stove, we fed the chickens, we retrieved our first fleshing laid egg, got the fire going and explored the woodlands surrounding us ready for potential pursuits in the week to come.
As Autumn is well and truly upon us (Kurt Schwitters favourite time of year, as I am told to believe), the colours around us were of all hues. It was a treat to be a part of. Normally I am not a fan of this time of year as the darker nights draw in and the colder it becomes. I suffer from S.A.D and am frightened of the looming depression I always find myself in at this time of year. However, seeing the foliage change colour in front of my eyes and being outdoors and therefore making most of the natural light that I wouldn't usually see - as I would be wrapped up indoors - felt very different from this time of year in the city.
It was the perfect time of year to take up residence in this type of setting for me. I also had a lot of questions to ask myself about my art practice; Why, why, why?
I had come a point where I wanted to question my ideas and bring in-depth context to the work. This residency was the perfect time to do this. I had one week, starting NOW.....