Writing about ideas so fresh you aren’t sure what the idea is yet is a challenge. How do you write about something that is still illusive, still drifting on the edges of your imagination? In this instance I think the only way is to write about the events that led to this new moment…
Last week I did three things that all converged to create the beginnings of an idea.
I went to see the Mark Dion at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. If you haven’t been to see it yet I highly recommend it. Dion has a fantastic sense of humour, explores important subject, and makes work that is unusually multifaceted in approach and outcome. He doesn’t pick a medium and stick with it, instead the exhibit ranges from sculpture to photography to installation to drawing to live zebra finches. With this show the Whitechapel has proved once again why they are one of the most interesting galleries in London. And Mark Dion has cemented himself as one of my favourite contemporary artists. He has also sparked a thought process about working with nature, and the multitude of approaches artists can take.
I had a meeting on Beesands Beach with a research scientist who works within the Marine Institute at Plymouth University. This was the first meeting of what I hope to be many during my year long Artist Residency with the institute. I have no idea what kind of influence the residency will have on my work other than that it is likely to be hugely impactful. That is a fun place to be, starting your wok down a new path with no real idea where it is leading. As first meetings go having a fascinating conversation on a freezing cold, wind swept beach is a good place to start. When I approached the Marine Institute it was in the hopes of learning about the South West Coast Path in ways I cannot begin to understand or access on my own. That this first meeting was about the movement of sediment and underwater topography in a bay I know mostly from the vantage point of the Start Point Lighthouse was the perfect start. It also got me thinking, wondering, pondering and reading as ideas start to form.
I went to the Natural History Museum. In fact I went twice in four days. I saw the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, without fail my favourite exhibition all year. I met the blue whale hanging skeleton hanging and immense above the great hall, and then I wandered. I wandered into rooms I had never been into before, found things from the collection I had never seen before, and started to think of the Natural History Museum in a new light. It has long been my favourite museum in the country, my favourite of any museum I have ever been to in fact, but it has never before been relevant to my work as an artist. This time around it sparked something for me, something linked to my current project, something linked to everything else I did last week and everything I have been doing for months…
..it sparked a new idea….
What the idea is I do not yet entirely know. What I do know is that I am going to follow it and see where it leads.