For the past several weeks I have been working on a new, ambitious installation for In Situ, an event I wrote about in more detail here (click to open).
What I want to focus on in this post is the relationship between artworks and their space, in a deeper sense than "does this painting go with my couch?"
I leapt at the chance to be part of In Situ even though it would cost me money I don't have, even though there was not enough time to prepare, all because of the space!
Soaring ceilings, tiny welder's booths, classic windows, exposed pipes, industrial fixtures, peeling paint... what's not to love?
The Small Arms Building is a wonderful network of spaces in a gorgeous state of neglect, the perfect location to stage artworks (not just visual but also performance-based) that relate to this remarkable, untamed space.
As an artist working on projects in an imaginative-but-real world, I wear a number of hats. I put a couple on right away when first touring the space: the Practical Hat (the one that wants me to sleep 8 hours every night, not get up to my eyeballs in debt, see my friends and family more often and regularly, eat well and work out, you know the one) – it thinks about what work I already have that could work in this space; the Dreamer Hat looks at the vast potential of all the spaces in the building and imagines a fantastic array of mostly-impossible (for me in these circumstances at least) ways to transform them and create remarkable experiences.
I am grateful to both Hats: one for keeping me alive (more or less, depending!); the other for enticing me to stretch and attempt things that while less-than-sensible have been glorious to thinking about, to see realized, to watch people interact with and to talk with some of them about.
Visitors looking at 'Double Happiness, Three's a Crowd' giant scrolls (another gloriously immoderate project) which I showed at the Clarke Hall event in Port Credit earlier this year. They had previously only been shown in the Vancouver area. Photo-digital mixed media printed onto fabric and fashioned into scrolls, 16ft x 4ft each. Photo: Sandra Robson 2016
The photo above shows the space that will be all mine (insert evil laugh here). The room is 20ft by 50ft. A dance performance and its audience will need a pathway through it to the next room, but allowing for that I can do what I want!
At right (I hope it's that way for mobile users as well) is a shot showing a fraction of the drawers I have collected or had set aside for me so I can build my main new sculpture. I won't really know until they are in the space how many I will need, which is part of the fun (and also part of what tells me I have fully transitioned to being an artist now, as my designer self would have wanted to control every detail in advance!).
In addition to drawers and boxes, I will be working with a lot of photo-digital image transfers, plexiglass and light. This work's roots are my 'Boxed In' figure drawings from 2010 and it will connect up to all of the 'Subject to Limitation' thematic work since.
I will be showing a few existing pieces, one reconfigured specifically for the space it will be in (not pictured here). One of the others has only been shown in BC back in 2012: "Turbulence" a 21ft long photo-digital mixed media piece comprised of six angled panels that will be hung high and look down on the people below. It should suit the main space very well!
So in answer to the question posed in the title of this post: both. I've had the idea for the drawers portion of the main sculpture piece for a few years now but other aspects of the installation that it will be part of were inspired by the context. Also the actual configuration and some of the details of the sculpture are responses to the space and particularities of the event.
I make my work to be shared. With you.
Which is why, even as a one-woman operation, I do my best to share via my blog, social media and email newsletter.
Because I know everything I make is part of a larger story. Every thought I have as an artist is an opportunity to build meaning and to connect.
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