It is now over a year since I finished my MA and I am learning to impose structure to my work.  The Tread Softly series is nearing completion and my thoughts now turn to what to do next.  I had expected to start work on a series of images based on my parents love letters, but events have overtaken me and another exciting opportunity has presented itself.

I had the good fortune to meet the owner of the Pugin Chapel in St Leonards who was looking for community engagement with the Chapel.  I suggested a residency and yesterday I completed the checks necessary to work on a school site.  If all goes to plan I will start work in the Chapel in the New Year.

For some time I have been considering the possibility of working in a church.  As my work moves into a ‘softer’, reflective period, I have been wondering whether it would lend itself to responding to a spiritual building.  I am not religious but I have lived in a converted chapel and found the experience enriching.  I am hopeful that creatively exploring the Pugin Chapel will open a new direction for my work.

I should add that even asking for the residency is way beyond my comfort zone, but I have seen the results of other artists from such an experience and as I move purposefully towards the next stage of my life, I feel that now is the time for such a challenge.

Where to start?  I toured the Chapel yesterday with the director and explained that I will not be painting views of the building.  That my purpose is to paint the feelings the building arouses, which may be abstract or may include details that resonate with me.  I plan to spend a day a week for the first few weeks, just contemplating, observing and recording details.  Due to the way I work with many layers of very wet paint, on site painting will not be possible.  I will need to rethink how I approach this project.

Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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