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From Summer into Autumn

by James on September 21st, 2017

Its this time of year that new things start to emerge and develop. The beginning of the new academic year, my son goes back to school and work starts coming in again.

The weather cools, the clouds lower to merge with early mists, and leaves start to turn alongside the ripening rosehips and shrivelling blackberries.

It reminds me of my own experiences of the start of a new year at school or college, a sense of the unknown, and new beginnings.

 

One of the first jobs for me has been to take down the Making Memories exhibition. Although you can never really know what people have thought about an exhibition unless you’re there with them, I’m happy with the feedback we’ve been given, and how it came together to represent all our work and thinking.

Making Memories at Salisbury Arts Centre

A key part of the exhibition for me was the way that it shared my working process, by including individual artwork made before and after the work with the children, as well as documentation of our time together.

Garden Bundle at Making Memories Exhibition

Looking back over the Summer, through the photos on my phone and computer, time spent with my little family dominates, with as much time spent outside as possible, both in the area around our Wiltshire home, and on holiday in West Cornwall.

The photos remind me of the gardens, beaches, fields and pavements that we have wandered together, the exhibitions we’ve visited, and the little treasures I’ve noticed and recorded (see here for an earlier post on Noticing).

Roger Ackling at The Exchange, Penzance

Sarah Ball at Anima Mundi, St Ives

And now, looking forward, I am booking in work which offers opportunities for own my development and inspiration, as well as facilitating the learning and development of others. Just as with Making Memories, I am seeking to make room for my own individual work to bubble up between the participatory elements of my practice.

Walking Bundle – Chirton, Wilts. August 2017

Next month I start work with the Hampshire Cultural Trust, responding to the ‘Turner and the Sun’ exhibition as it tours to Basingstoke, and the Willis Museum. I will be working with local secondary schools, taking Turner’s work as a starting point, to explore how art can enable us to notice, observe, record and learn about the world around us.

Turner and the Sun at Winchester Discovery Centre

I’ve been doing a little research on Turner and his relationship with/knowledge of astronomy, mythology etc, and it’s giving me a new insight into the thinking behind and groundbreaking nature of his work. We are hoping that the project can include time working with the young people at Basing House too, and I’m excited to be visiting next month to have an explore and see what possibilities the site offers us.

I’m keen to include the work of contemporary artists who have spent time making work about/with the sun/sunlight, so if you have any thoughts please do add them in a comment below.

One of the key elements of my Summer was bike riding, after we (myself and my partner Jonathan who has been busy developing his own arts practice – see here) bought our son a new bike for his birthday in July, and I bought myself one too. We have been exploring the lanes and villages around our home in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire, and it has provided me with a new way of exploring and noticing. I’ve made lots of work through walking in the past, and I’m starting to wonder how my bike riding will inform my work.

Again, any thoughts about artists using a bike as a vantage point/position from which to make work, I’d love to hear about them.

I’ve also become an Associate Artist of Chapel Arts Studios, an Andover based visual arts organisation, and am looking forward to seeing what opportunities for mutual support, collaboration and dialogue this network brings. I’m heading there tonight to meet some of the other Artists and have a play together.

In terms of other projects, I’m pleased to be playing a part in the Celebrating Age initiative, working with Older People in the Amesbury area, with an initial loose focus of sharing memories of favourite places. I’ve worked with older people with dementia before, and older people with other mental health issues or learning disabilities, and of course spent time working in partnership with Louise Rennie on the Living Memory Wiltshire project, but it still feels comparatively new to me, and again I’m open to learning a lot from my time with them.

You can find out more about Celebrating Age here, and I’ll be back with updates on my own work with them later in the year.

 

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