Feb 21st 2023
From One To Another is a residency delivered in partnership with the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust, Borlase Smart John Wells Trust (Cornwall) and Marchmont House (Scotland).
A blog by Cornwall-based artist Clare Wardman who was resident at Marchmont House, in the Scottish Borders. Clare's exchange counterpart, Siobhan McLaughlin, was artist-in-residence at Anchor Studios, Cornwall
I hoped that the residency would have a meaningful and insightful working experience on my self-directed, visual art practice - ‘expanded painting’ – including simple woven structures, interdisciplinary audio and visual components, and installation. Through these different engagements, I aimed to absorb a deeper understanding and consideration of the residency theme, loci, ‘spirit of place’. Marchmont Estate, including its 'pastoral' landscape, would be a rich resource of possibilities to influence my research in the phenomena of types of material 'weathering' and haptic knowledge.
The residency at Marchmont gave me an opportunity to learn about and see different skillsets such as traditional furniture making, carving, plasterwork and embroidery which in turn stimulated ideas for the possibility of working more collaboratively, or for taking my own research into different forms. I was able to view many actual examples of tapestries, crewel work and other textiles. A guided experience with the collection’s archivist generated many observations and questions. This led to further exploration of the narrative of repairs to fabrics - the small gestures and interventions of stitching into 18th Century upholstery – and unexpectedly, the bolder, physical handling within the pragmatic adding of borders to tapestries. These all either tapped into my research or gave me new ideas and concepts to consider.
I had planned to experiment with small, abstract plaster reliefs; this idea was replaced as I became influenced by the immersive state of the immediate and predominant red clay in the landscape. Two key pieces involved woven canvas strips dyed on site or immersed in a large, unearthed swathe of red clay I’d encountered on a walk. I discovered that by placing these outside on various groundworks occurring in the environment, or contrastingly with natural features such as a tree stump, I could visualise the condition of the weave’s flatness as having an interdependent yet integrated three-dimensional support with a different spatial involvement other than wall and floor.
The second red clay piece incorporated the sense of a ‘system of spaces’ citing theorist, and architect, Christian Norberg Schultz. Working with twelve strips of canvas saturated in the red clay, and thinking of painterly experiments in abstraction, the weave’s physical state gradually opened. A durational piece resulted in several incarnations; new shapes and placements suggested a plough, a section of chamfered floor, a fragment of text, a prehistoric tooth, or simple celled animal - the situation became a type of archeological statement. The final incarnation flipped the flat state of my abstract painting into a form in the round. Personally, this is a complex work, a direct result of the residency, a feature in an unfamiliar external (and internal landscape), my processes, materiality of touch, and the plasticity of cognition aligned with the properties of the clay.
I was also able to invite interdisciplinary artist, educator and professional musician, Gavin Osborn, whom I’ve collaborated with previously, to continue our exploration of liminal spaces using sound from the landscape. His practices opening a direct sense of internal haptic from ‘deep listening’ in the audio recordings he made in our field work around the estate.
Listen to Marchmont Sound.
I feel that in any stage in an artist's career professional endorsement is vital, the impact of the residency embedded my practice in a new dynamic both location and unfamiliarity alongside different fields of active investigation by others, from the work of archivists to orientation towards craft and making, landscape ecology, historic built environment, culture, painting, sculpture, philosophy, and community, concentrated in one place - Marchmont. The residency afforded expansive physical, mental, and material space to operate in, alerting the intellect and senses to locate energy for continuing to explore the deeper layers of potential and dialogue within my art practice and thinking, and about its means of communication.