Residency: Q & A

The Blue Monkey Network at the Towner in Eastbourne is a group of professional/semi professional artists who meet monthly to discuss art. I was interested to hear their experiences of undertaking a residency to understand what else I could be doing or how I could approach this opportunity from a different perspective.

Only one of the artists had relevant experience, which I found really surprising.

Judith, who runs the network, introduced me and I presented a slide show of the Chapel, to enable the group to appreciate the location. I then briefly introduced my work, from work selected for the Royal Institute, through to work I am currently producing from my Residency.

The slide show is available to view, but it wasn’t possible to record the event.

Releasing the Feminine watercolour on paper 58 x 78cms

Father, Son.. watercolour on paper 58 x 78cms

It was suggested that immersion in the building for a prolonged period, say one or two weeks, could produce a different perspective. This wouldn’t have been possible earlier in the year as the cold has prevented spells of longer than 3 hours, but as the weather improves and my diary clears this is a definite possibility.

I am mindful that the building is listed and fragile. I am conscious that I have been afforded privileged access and wish to respect this. Suggestions to paint on site, pin work to the walls, scrape off the decay, leave work around, stay overnight etc, are, for me, impractical and disrespectful to the building. Where an intervention is non-intrusive, and may lead to further revelation, such as leaving paper to absorb the salt in the atmosphere to see what happens, or introducing objects/reintroducing work into the space, is certainly a possibility.

Residency Day 10

Today my visit has two purposes. Firstly, to ensure I have effective internal and external images of the Chapel for my presentation to the Blue Monkey Network artist’s group. Then, following a meeting with Judith, who will be leading the Q & A at the Blue Monkey, I am revisiting the building through the lens of site specific work.

For this exercise I am trying to set aside my practical nature. Can’t is not an option.

During my MA I was exposed to some extraordinary artists, who were able to produce work beyond my wildest imagination. Now is the time to step into their shoes.

I ease myself in gently with thoughts of a torn watercolour descending from the leaking ceiling over Jesus’s damaged leg.

The photo shows the south West corner of the Chapel, where the damaged leg is just visible together with the damaged ceiling.

The symmetry and majesty of the arches is ever present.

I muse over the idea of a knitted sculpture of Jesus, a tangible female thread running through the work. The presence and essence of Cornelia. I am used to knitting from a pattern. I can’t imagine there are many knit your own Jesus patterns around, but, as MPs are fond of saying, all options should remain on the table.

There are a number of tapestries hanging from the columns. A possibility. Again a feminine depiction.

I spot a chain hanging from the ceiling crying out for something, anything.

I chose today to work in silence, to be completely in tune with the visual. Open to whatever catches my attention. There are repeated motifs everywhere.

Detail from one of the smaller alters.

I visualise them as paper cutouts desperate to dance in the stillness.

I find a beautiful pattern in the recess to the left of the main alter.

The ravages of time, gossamer in its delicacy.

I need time for connections to be made, ideas to bubble.

Residency Day 9

For the last few weeks I have been exploring colour and abstract mark making for a large scale watercolour commission. Interestingly the limited palette that I am working with, at the request of the client, is the same palette I am finding in the Chapel.

This has resulted in a number of preparatory paintings that I felt I needed help to resolve. As a result I booked myself onto the Creative Painting Space course with Emily Ball at Seawhites. Courses like this are a great way to reflect on and refresh my approach to my work. We considered mark making, connection, integration of existing work. I acknowledged my weakness with structure and form, a particular issue for abstract work. Emily suggested I researched a subject, and whilst not explicitly painting the subject, be mindful of it, during my process.

Maybe it is me, but when the blindingly obvious is staring at me, I fail to see it.

At a loss to suggest a subject matter, I chatted to Emily about my residency and the images I was processing. The face of Cornelia, the sculptures of Jesus, and there they were in the paintings we were discussing! The unconscious in action, absorbing, processing and delivering. Yet if I had set about painting such images, the result would have been more consciously contrived.

WIP Watercolour on paper 78 x 58cms

Cornelia her life as struggle.

WIP watercolour on paper 78 x 58cms

Damaged Jesus.

Residency Day 8


Charcoal on paper 42 x 59 cms

I return to the bronze.  Having started a charcoal work at home I realise that my reference material is lacking.


Detail from the bronze.

I focus on proportions.155FAFED-6222-4015-BFA5-9E882410E34A Charcoal on paper 120 x 42 cms

My intention is not to replicate but to connect emotionally with the work.  My experimental drawing classes have started again, one life drawing, one self portraits where the aim is essence not likeness.  This is an extraordinary process which takes time and trust.  Much of the drawing is completed using the non dominant hand, focusing solely on the subject without referencing the work.  Scary but illuminating.  It is only when the work is ‘complete’ that you work into the generated image looking at the subject and the work.

The other sculpture I am keen to work with is the water damaged Christ.


The damage gives the sculpture an eerie, otherworldly quality.  I will be using the same experimental drawing process.