In February of this year I had the pleasure of taking part in the Brighton University european study trip to Berlin. We took students to a number of studio visits across the city, seeing museums and galleries and a visit to Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial site on a day so bitterly cold that I could legitimately wear my balaclava (incidentally bought in the desert during a previous residency). Both Stewart Easton and myself were not prepared for just how much Berlin inspired and fuelled our work following our experience there. A city that honours the scars of its past but celebrates creativity through self expression and a ‘joie de vivre’ I have not experienced anywhere else. Berlin I salute you!
For nearly two months of the summer Stewart Easton and I took part in the Silver City artist residency program in Nevada. During our time there we each had a solo exhibition of our work, we ran workshops for the good folk of Silver City looking at ‘drawing and identity’ and ‘Stitching our history’. We journeyed across the desert to Idaho, saw a ten thousand year old canyon carved by a flood at the end of the last ice age, explored an undergroundice cave in the middle of the searing heat of the desert, rafted down a river, saw bald eagles and lived in a geodesic dome, to mention but a few highlights. And above all, we got to spend time with some amazing people in a breathtaking landscape.
During the whole of this year I have continued teaching at Brighton University and as a freelance Illustrator this has been a wonderful environment to step into. Being in the company of the level 4 degree students has forced me to introspect into my own practice, to re-examine my own working methods and allowed me to return to play within my own personal development. Watching people start their creative journeys is a joyful thing to behold.
Now looking ahead to 2017 I have new projects for the new year: I have recently been playing around with a few research projects one of which is incorporating art & exercise. The ’Art Run’ project is still in its embryonic stage with just a handful of sessions completed but some of the initial aims are:
- To look at how we ‘see’ our everyday environment
- To increase physical & emotional wellbeing through exercise and creativity
- Strengthen observational drawing skills though repetition of experience
So on reflection 2016 has taught me that it is easy to look at the world with wide open eyes when you visit somewhere new and exotic but also reminded me to pay close attention to the world I am already familiar with. When you set off on a new adventure to distant places you gasp at the sight of mountains or marvel at a dust devil spiralling into the sky but how do you look at your everyday environment with the same level of wonder? This is what I have planned for 2017.