Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm? Observations, actions and connection points through art.


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Hamilton Residency 5: connections

Three things that are good: 1 the cast iron legs are back on the black studio table that david sereda gave me ten years ago (what is IN that heavy heavy thing, ds?), 2. I have a new kettle and all the equipment to french press the coffee that fuels my morning write, and 3. Sun is melting the cold clamp of arctic crunch that has been squeezing the air out of us all this past week.

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Oh yes, and the walls of this room I will read, sleep and write in for the next month are painted a cheerful, many-varied naples yellow. Makes me smile, though I’m not able to articulate why in this moment. Something about the subtle effects of ongoing displacement…

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I am happy beyond telling to move into the space that will house me and my work for the next three years at Cotton Factory.  SH242 is now my studio – just down the hall from the residency space I have been working in since December 1. Both spaces sing the clear bell-tone of time and permission to grow beyond what I can currently imagine. GO! They ring, each time I walk into the building.

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As I emerge from my anticipated mid-residency slump I can see that new artistic directions have appeared in the Hamilton-inspired work. The drawings and painting are very much in their ugly stage, but I can see where they’re going, and I’m happy. They answer for me both my inspiration and sorrow over the state of some old broken places here, which have been buried under the effects of neglect for too long. Signs of renewal are there though, if you look, like grass growing through the pavement in an old industrial yard. Growth and fertility after decades as a desert.

Anticipated date for the Cotton Factory residency artists’ talk are Tuesday February 26, 6:30pm. I will confirm this on all social media, and Hamilton Arts Council will also announce – stay tuned, and I hope you can come. These talks and the work will be provocative, insightful and good for long-term conversation chewiness.

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I continue to research, listen and plan these collaborative co-missioned portraits which are the vehicle that got me to Hamilton and through this residency. I had no idea how the complexity of this show and book would challenge my abilities and experience. The work is complex and exciting – well worth enough time to do us all justice.

I turned the corner this week, from struggle to clarity when Ashley the fabric artist two studios down gave me her huge canvas. She had laboured to draw the geometric pattern for the seed of life over the entire surface, then lugged the thing around for two years. I accepted her work as a starting point for more exploration from me – a first collaboration in the Cotton Factory –  and realized it is the painting of my own ‘becoming’, effectively making me the ninth person represented in the Portraits show. A door opened, then, into what connects all of us in this experiment. I’m writing through each morning to find my articulation of it, but it’s there now; I can feel it.

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Our new projected culmination date is mid-spring, enough time to make give this project the arc it requires. In the meantime, the nine of us populate the new studio space at Cotton Factory – just us. When I’m in that room I feel as though I sit in the midst of a copse of eight other mixed-species trees. Watching and listening to their stories, observing my own, there, antennae stretched to pick up warmth – between this one’s experience and that one’s observations.

I sit still and fully present as I did at the cabin this summer, to seek connections and patterns in the complexities that connect us all as humans, us Nine. They are subtle, but they are there.

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And finally, O, Faretheewell, Emerald Street at Barton, where I’ve stayed for a month. Glad to have landed safely in your arms, glad to have listened to your complicated and often dark stories, as they came through my window each night. Glad to lock your door for the last time, too.

The next tenant is a medical student from overseas who will also be there for a month. Hope he doesn’t slip on the steps and land in a puddle, as I did.

Happy February, all!

 

 


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Summon the Artist

The studio is different, this second day of 2016.

It’s taking some time for the subtle but undeniably permanent changes to sink in.  Some can be identified now; the bell paintings I began in December ring at a new frequency – thirty-six hours from now they will finish in a way I hadn’t imagined.  There’s a kind of inner ‘glow’ to them – as though they were still in active process of becoming while I was elsewhere attending to christmas gatherings, encountering and engaging family; playing like someone 5 years old and far wiser with dear dear friends; making and sharing beautiful communal music; solving puzzles; sorting buttons by colour and size; breathing the outside air, forgetting worry.

These bell paintings are more fully themselves – I won’t need to work so hard to bring them home.

Almost impossible to get the yellows right for this photo. The real one is like sunlight - I'm utterly charmed by it.

It’s impossible to get the yellows right in this photo – I’m not a good photographer & certainly don’t understand enough tech to make it right. The actual painting I stare at on the wall is like sunlight.  It puts me into a hammock on a hot summer day that is made bearable by a perfect, sun-quenched breeze.  I can hear honeybees, cicadas, crickets, red-winged blackbirds, the caterpillar beside me, who chews an ash leaf.  A crow comments, occasionally.

There’s more room in here, impossibly.

How…?    I’ve not moved anything out except – oh ya.  The Bell paintings already at the Bean Cellar, and two hanging in living rooms.  Paintings that are finished take up a great deal of space and need to move on to some other wall, somewhere else.  I’d forgotten how strong they were.

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None of my camera batteries have juice left.  I find patience, while they recharge and catch up with my curiosity.

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step 5 – I’d give you step 7 but my camera batteries…. What I’m looking at is more like a golden thought than this earlier one.  Somehow the little bells ring inside a warm memory of change from long ago. Every colour is there- golden, rich red, deep violet, spring green, hemlock green, deep aqua loke Georgian Bay.

While I wait for camera batteries I listen, and realize that a new set of materials call to me for the first time in many years.  Paper. Ink. Plaster. Chalk.  – these will be a re-visiting, since that’s where I started long ago.  Pencil crayon, after seeing a drawing at the Durham Art Gallery that stole my heart in December (it now astonishes me in my kitchen, as it did when I unwrapped it at Christmas).

I feel I want to make use of Black for the first time since rejecting it’s place in my work 30 years ago.  It is the absence of colour.

Why black?  Now?  That’s a curious thing.

I follow the call to new media. Like a wise 5-year-old engaging in serious play. Hours go by, and no time at all.

I follow the call to new media. Like a wise 5-year-old engaging in serious play. Hours go by, and no time at all – like a good walk in the forest.

Happy 2016, everyone.  It feels new and full of promise to me.   You too?


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sunlight, & ee

My studio is new and beloved.  The paintings, the sewings, the drawings and the music have all surged ahead after long weeks and months of stasis.  Patient, faithful and still, they have all waited like the good friends they are, for my return.

Ahhh.  So rich.

Bathed in sunlight I stand at one of my six big windows and listen to the conversations flowing through the room – Faure with a fabric artist guru from New Zealand about interesting new trends in upholstery;  Seamus Heaney with John Newton about Dan McGee’s gladiolus – that specific colour of luddite red; Ted Hughes roaring his laughter with hobbit-sized Edouard Bartlett about a sideways student who managed to astonish his audience; Sir Ken Robinson with my beloved Cow (a puppet made in Carnarvon 20 years ago) about the pleasures of a sharp pencil.

This morning a long-time friend and colleague sent this to me from her fridge:

I haven't yet found the title for this, but I will.

I haven’t yet found the title for this, but I will.

Here’s a bio of ee. (1894–1962), who said this in summary of three final ‘non-lectures’ at Harvard University:

“I am someone who proudly and humbly affirms that love is the mystery-of-mysteries, and that nothing measurable matters ‘a very good God damn’; that ‘an artist, a man*, a failure’ is no mere whenfully accreting mechanism, but a givingly eternal complexity—neither some soulless and heartless ultrapredatory infra-animal nor any understandingly knowing and believing and thinking automaton, but a naturally and miraculously whole human being—a feelingly illimitable individual; whose only happiness is to transcend himself, whose every agony is to grow.”

So bless this Sunday full of sunlight and total engagement with the world.  I’m going to go and paint with Seamus now.

Be well, everyone.

K

(*He meant “human”, I am sure. )

here’s the poem again – yes, she’s got it right.:

yes but even
4 or(&h
ow)dinary
a
meri
can b
usiness soca
lled me
n dis…cussing “parity” in l’hô

tel nor
man(rue d
e l’échelle)
die can’tquite poison God’s sunlight