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Friday, 8 February 2013

The Residency at The Water Tower: Part Two, The Boats

From looking at the themes of Faith and Belief I started thinking about hopes and dreams and how the two connect in different ways. Often, in religious establishments and situations or rituals, candles are lit as a symbol of the lord enlightening darkness; therefore giving hope to the believer. In my own opinion, the light that the candle disperses is very organic, warming and calming, and does seem to posess some kind of life of its own, as well as a fragility; if it is neglected or a breeze blows in its direction with too much force, it will extinguish the flame and it will die.

To use candles within the work I was going to have to construct some kind of lantern. I thought if I could use my prints on these it would give them a new life and a new appearance. From absorbing the surroundings and the environment I found myself in, I also wanted to use them within the work somehow.

Every day that I woke up and looked out I saw Ros Stoddart's sculpture, Viewfinder. It seemed to offer a gateway in to a different, organic and anonymous world that lay beyond. I went on long walks through the forest. Nobody knew where I was, and, quite frankly, neither did I, which was a refreshing feeling that I very much enjoyed. As you became part of this mysterious, contrasting world, the first thing you crossed was the pond. I had to figure out a way of inviting other people to share the same experience and enchanting feeling, communicating this to them through the use of art.

Ros's sculpture, Viewfinder, reflected in the pond

Here are a few snaps I took while out exploring the forest... and the capabilities of my new camera! Please click on any of the images to see larger.

Spider hammocks
Marsh lands from heavy rain
Tree tops
I was loving the contrast in colours - the bright oranges against blacks - and the textures - wiggly little mushrooms against circular ringed wood with straight lines and triangular shapes
Swooshing spider trail
Harmonious colourful tree trunks
Close up texture of the underside of a bracket mushroom
Spooky tree sillouettes

Some people would look in to this environment and consider it scary and eerie rather than ideal. If there is light, people seem to find this comforting. To give the light even more life of its own, I thought that floating the candles on the pond in little boats would be the ideal way to do this. I began testing different constructions in various sizes to see which one would work best.

Testing the boats in the water bath, usually used to soak paper before etching

Then I had to test the boats in situ on the pond...

During the day...
... and at night

The way the boats moved by themselves was haunting, yet encapsulating at the same time.

After establishing that the boats would work I now had to print my designs on to the top section of each one.

During my time at The Water Tower,  I met some very interesting people. Ros introduced me to her friend, Agris Krumins and his daughter, Sarma, who make short films together. One night at The Water Tower they were showing their film, In a Tongue That's Mine, based on the Latvian community living in Corby. It was very interesting to watch the reactions it provoked throughout the audience, after it had finished. It effected everyone there, in one way or another.

After the film had concluded people were encouraged to bring questions to the floor. While they did so, I sneaked out quietly down to the pond, where Sarma and her brother helped me light the boats and launch them. When the question time had finished inside, the audience were invited to come outside and down to the pond to view a Work-In-Progress show by the resident artist - me!

I was really nervous as I didn't know if it would work or not. Paddling around in the pond in the dark was also quite a challenge! There were 11 printed boats over the pond for the audience to take in and, luckily, the weather was on my side too. It was a beautiful, crispy cold, clear starry night, which only added to the work and the effect it had on the audience.

When I joined everyone else inside, after watching the boats at the pond, the response I got was really positive. A woman told me she found the whole experience very uplifting, which was exactly what I had been aiming for! I was really happy with this. Another person said they loved the starry sky, and then the light from the little bots down below to reflect this. Obviously, this was outwith my control, but you can't knock good feedback!

Maybe I jinxed things. As I printed and constructed the boats for the final installation towards the end of the week, the weather gradually got colder and colder. The pond froze and it snowed... a lot! The boats from the Work in Progress show became frozen in to the water and, unfortunately, I was unable to launch the final ones and complete the installation.

This was frustrating, however, not the end of the world - I have left everything ready to go at The Water Tower and will return there in the coming months to hopefully complete the installation as planned!

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