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Monday, 4 February 2013

The Residency at The Water Tower: Part One, The Banner

I've now been back in Cambridge for just over two weeks after completing a two week Artist Residency at The Water Tower just outside of Brigstock, near Kettering. It may have only been two weeks ago but it feels like it was another world, a million miles away now! A perfect environment. I was able to be completely submerged and involved within my working process during the time I was there. I felt deeply enlightened after spending time here, and saw the residency as a sort of spiritual journey. When I was there I used the studio every day, and most days I was creating work from around 9 in the morning until about 10:30 or 11 o'clock at night.

I began to think about my practice and relate it to faith, belief and religion. I started examining the relationship of the artist with their art and comparing it to that of the relationship between someone who has faith in a religion or a God. Although I am not religious myself, I have a strong interest in the aspects of religion, and in the themes of faith and belief, which also inform my work. I started trying to create a visual language, which the audience would be able to interpret through imagery rather than text. I see art as a very powerful tool and believe in it like a religious person would believe in a God.

Carving lino became like a meditation or a chant to me and helped me to free my mind, concentrate and enjoy the task. It became like a hypnotic state, trance or addiction of some sort. I kept thinking to myself, 'I'll stop after I finish this little bit,' and then I would still continue, 'just a little bit more'! Until I had created a suite of 10 lino blocks.

From these blocks I could sculpt and build a bigger pattern using different colours. I mixed 5 colours and used the same ones throughout the project to keep consistency and create a link between the different outcomes I intended to achieve. 

Mixing the colours to use throughout the production
Each colour wrapped in a piece of plastic bag to stop it drying out and keep things tidy... ish!

I took inspiration from the concept of Chakras. There are seven of them in each individual, corresponding to different areas of the body, in a colum from the base of the spine to the top of the head, each with its own colour. According to tradition, each Chakra can effect psychological and physical health within everyone; the charkas have to be balanced. Although I am not an expert in this realm by any means, I found the concept very interesting and I kept it in mind while I was making.

Places of worship often use banners to communicate a message from a higher power. I enjoy creating work on a big scale as I love the impact it has. 

Developing large work on paper has become difficult and very stressful for me to transport around, so I created a fabric banner to express myself and find a release through the process of making the artwork, just as believers do through praying. The video below shows the moment we dropped the banner from The Water Tower.

I loved the movement the breeze gave the fabric, as it seemed to give the design a new kind of life about it that I hadn't seen in my work before.

The prints on the fabric are inspired by islamic calligraphy which, I think, uses beautiful forms and shapes, even though I can't read any of it!  Although this is what the banner means to me I welcome suggestions and love hearing what each individual understands and takes from what they see.

My banner hanging from the Water Tower balcony, with 'View Finder' by Ros Stoddart in the foreground

The banner was the start of things to come. When I finished making it and photographing it I intended to cut it up to make a new leg of the project, but after the efforts put in to making it, and the discouragement of others who had seen the finished banner (telling me not to take my scissors to it), I couldn't quite bring myself to dismember it... 

To be continued.....


  1. Fabulous stuff Katy. What an opportunity, well done!