‘Way back in the early 70’s on day one of the sculpture course at St. Martins School of Art we were simply given ½ cwt slab of clay and told to work with it, to use no other materials other than a base board and not to exchange clay with other students. No further instructions or staff input was given for the duration of the five-day project.
Similar minimal projects followed and I found I enjoyed the constraints and sense of challenge these tasks presented. One could have no preconceived intentions,but had to rely on spontaneous improvisation, play and invention. This particular strategy seemed to suit me and I learned a confidence in exploring materials and ideas and not knowing quite where they were going. Content could be uncovered rather than prescribed. I began to recognize that the outcome and reward I was seeking was surprise, and through a process of play and interrogation I could arrive at a place I had not been before.
So many years later and with a much older head on I now find that residencies can take me back to that first day at St. Martins. Parachuted from my familiar studio into a new environment without my usual panoply of tools and tried and tested processes I enjoy the same sense of challenge and anticipation of surprise and discovery.
Residencies in remote locations such as Baer in Iceland, Café Tissardmine in Morocco and Joya: AiR in Andalusia amplify the challenge and inevitably force more surprising inventions. The isolation brings a focus and the unique landscape a new and particular inspiration. To have no plan or project seems to work best for me. I like to just arrive and respond to what is there. I have acquired a faith that something will happen’.