My trip underground with Adam Chodzko in Ghost
In the dark confined space I took comfort from the deep resonating sounds of the voice.
It was an intimate space, deeply secretive and gave light to ones innermost fears and thoughts.
“This is where my father died”. It was a statement. Not one that invited comment or exploration- private moment spoken aloud in this private intimate space of which I was privy to hear.
The descriptions of the rock and what we could see were forced and unnatural. They prevented true reflection and obstructed listening to the secluded sounds deep below the earth in this man made tunnel. We hungered for the clandestine secret sounds of dripping water, the paddle gliding through the water and air whispering as it travelled through.
A distant crackle akin to radio static intrigued us, as it grew louder and nearer it’s pitch heightened and the sound was an expected trickling and splashing of fast falling water- a flash rainstorm rippling down rocks and spattering into the water below. The echoes off the carved rock walls increasing the sound tenfold. Drips pooled out and one could imagine rings of sound flowing out like ripples on a pond.
The air changed from dense wet and heavy to cold crisp and clear. The smell was refreshingly damp. Not quite like fresh dew or the moment before rain on a stifling hot summers day but that of a wet rocky cave.
Adam Chodzko descriptions of sound were clear, practiced and bespoke. They were full of experience and he opened my mind to reflect on sound and to truly listen. I felt frustrated at my lack of expression. As I always look for colour and light I could easily respond to the rich russets, deep blue-blacks, golden sparkling droplets that clung to the rough-cut ceiling above me.
As we continued deeper I felt more entrapped in my canoe cocoon. I was overwhelmed and afraid, glad to see the falsely bright torch headlights, men’s’ voices and laughter. But the ceiling closed down towards me and became increasingly overbearing.
I found myself revealing innermost thoughts, personal dreams and fears as if the years of history hidden within the walls of rock had stripped me of my amour and privacy. I voiced the joy I felt of human contact through sound for I was so isolated and vulnerable. Lying horizontal, forced to see the overpowering rock face above me as if in a coffin. We agreed that the human voice had protected us from falling pray to private thoughts and feelings.
When we stopped to listen the drips and airflow create a gentle whispering song. It was not comforting and the rocks closed in around me as if the lid was closing and I would be overcome with fear and distraught with panic had I not controlled my breathing and forced myself to be strong, confident and assured. Filming and photographing gave me a purpose, as did describing the experience to others. I listened with awe at the historical knowledge being imparted and took comfort in knowing my time here was brief.
When at last they spoke of seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel” I dare not risk straining to lift and look for fear of being bitterly disappointed at what might still be a long way yet to travel. As we exited from the tunnel I was too glad of the dazzling light, change of temperature on my skin and fresh clear air to film. I had conquered my fear of claustrophobia and had the experience of a lifetime.
Filled with relief and delight at being alive and out of the “coffin”-Ghost I spoke of my thoughts of admiration for the 40 men who had taken 14 years to cut their way through the mile and a half tunnel that was now over 200 years old. It is humbling to know what we are determined to achieve in order to make progress. My own thoughts fears and expectations had been turned inside out as I travelled through time.
I am thoroughly enjoying exploring these emotions and memories in my artwork which, will be on display at The Tamar valley Centre, Gunnislake during Cornwall Open Studios. It seems very befitting that right beside us are old tin mining works and that this eco building which houses the Area od Outstanding Natural Beauty ANOB should be the first place for this 200 year old story to be shown. I’m delighted that my work, which shows glimpses of our industrial heritage here in the Valley, be exhibited high on the hillside where we look out into vast and beautiful views of the Tamar Valley. I am excited about running heat fusion and weaving demos and more information about me can be seen at www.tessajane.co.uk.
I am thrilled with this opportunity and it is enabling me to work in new ways and media-particularly my textiles. 25 years ago I specialised in constructed textiles (weaving) and always wanted to print. This residency is enabling to do this and also to work on glass and other materials. My work has been selected from all the artists across the country as picture of the week and also for the new aa2a.org home page, which has been a real boost for my confidence.
Using screen print techniques and exploring devoré is so exciting. I am literally able to explore my subject matter MAKING TRACKS by using technological advances to eat away at the cloth, making tracks through it and by printing pattern onto it!
We carve our way through time yet look back sometimes longingly at our past. We fight to preserve and do not embrace progress well. For it is ugly. We scorn those before us who raced ahead, devouring the land and failing to protect its future. Protect, preserve, recycle and strive for a sustainable, stronger, safer future.
Nature makes her own lines-sometimes sweeping and caressing. But she too wreaks havoc destroying progress and reclaiming ground at great cost. Rivers, meander, Canyons carve and mountains and seas conquer. Yet the snow quietly carpets and stills natures heartbeat whilst desserts dry warning is for us all to heed, I say “Go lightly on your way through life and take time to breathe.”
I taught “heat fusion” in schools as part of a curriculum that encourages students to be environmentally conscious. Recycling and up cycling is not only fashionable but also necessary. Most of my work involves finding waste products and reusing them from furniture to fabric. It will be fun to get involved and make a piece of your own work whilst visiting artists in their studios and exhibitions so there will be two making days at our venue. Heat fusion represents the potential of glass slumping and fusing. It feels industrial because of the heat and science involved and has empathy.
My work will be on display at the Tamar Valley Centre (TVC) along with that of artists Clare Law and Sophie White, we are calling the show Glimpses, as it shows from each of us, a different way of looking at the land.
We feel it is very fitting that our work is on show at The TVC, Tamar Valley AONB
Tamar Valley Centre
PL18 9FE firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: 01822 835030 during Cornwall Open Studios Saturday 25th May-Sun 2nd June 10am-4pm. Workshops/demos will be running Mon 28th and Fri 31st May. More information can be seen about me at www.tessajane.co.uk
As is suggested by the title of my most recent image album I seem to have been incredibly busy but then don't seem to have much to show for it!
I have been away for a bit, however am now back to the studio for more fun times in the lead up to the Degree Show, I have also got another exhibition under my belt in the mean time, 'Self' at Whitley bay was on over the weekend and was great fun! It was a large group show and featured the prints from my series 'Sketches' and also paintings from fellow AA2A Student Rep Sandra Greenacre.
In AA2A news since the successes of Jenny Purrett and Rebecca Travis's workshops, David Lisser is holding a seminar this Thursday about the ever optimistic theme of 'Failure'! Of course, if you are from Northumbria you will already have received the email regarding VOTING, its that time of year again! The 'vote' will only take you a few seconds so please follow the link below...
Spent the week-end drawing..
Demons crowding around me though.. is it good enough?, what's the point?, what about money, etc...
But exploring this lovely feeling of 'practise' - just doing something because I like it, and keeping doing it.. noticing as i draw the same thing over and over again - namely my face - that i notice small details that i try and work on in the next picture - very subtle differences in proportion, light, shadow, tone.. and modelling the 3 dimensional subject is really fascinating..
Was wondering about the personal transformation i am undergoing at the moment and whether i can seperate art from life - i am in therapy again - and looking at where my strange patterns, my habits come from - i say strange but to most people their not strange at all, their 'normal' - i have learn't a way in my life of being 'normal' - of interacting normally - of offering my creativity in a 'normal' context.. but they've led me to this desolate place - its a desolate place without many people in it - i have alienated everyone because of this 'normality' that i don't really like doing - this way of being in the world that makes me feel resentful and bitter - and not myself ...
Finding time to draw and paint is beginning of trying to live a life staying closer to my true self.. do feel quite cut-off sometimes because i am trying not to follow the patterns i have always fallen into historically... and maybe i'm not very good at it - overcompensating..?
I spent this week-end quietly listening to what i wanted to do - no major work commitments, the kids are with their mother.. so i had a whole w/end - and i allowed myself to simply live as if this was what i did all the time, as if someone, somewhere was eventually paying for my artistic output - or at least not worrying about making these pictures mean anything, just following my heart..
And i produced two interesting drawings of myself - still working on the 3/4 face - and proportions - i have a tendancy for long and thin - too much space under the nose - and the curvature around the face fascinates and frustrates me - eyes are also interesting - its bloody annoying wearing glasses - i may get some contacts next time i'm in Plymouth - just so i can see my eyes properly - i have now a very nice light in the studio..
i'm also intrigued and fascinated by my gender .. my identity..am now feeling like i am opening up again - that life has possibilities, new horizons, that i can create my life the way i want it..
So the self-portraits are starting to be a record of this process of rebirth - and, i think, each one brings out a slightly different aspect of me..
And possibly at some point start to draw others - did draw leonard - and that went well, thinking about asking friends, but not wanting it to get messy...
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the AA2A artists that I had the privillage to visit, talk to in lectures or workshops or any other event at Coventry University it gave my own practice a much needed boost and the chance to expose myself to new working practices, techniques, the chance for my art work to be seen on another networking site and hopefully something will come into my own practice for the better for using this website. At the moment I have another year studying for my Masters and although have been offered a PHD in London do not have the funds at the moment to even consider the posserbility of this. I want to concentrate on trying to find my medium, studio space, get some funding, commissions, hopefully sell some art work, get another part-time job that is also art related to replace the current job I am about to lose due to lack of funding. But am very hopeful as have a casual post at a local museum and art gallery which I love and get a little work and pay from this to fund my self while studying. Life as an artist is never easy but if you are wise and network it could help you in the future. Being an active part of a AA2A student blogger has enhanced my practice and for this I thank you all.
So March 18th was the last session at Salford that I attended.....since then the NYC residency has been postponed and my body has been catching up with itself to recover from the build up to going as I thought I would be!
Disappointed that I couldn't do the intervention I wanted to do because I wasn't leaving the UK but there are other opportunities to so this so the next step is, get back to Salford to continue with the engagement work with the students. Still wanting to do my French Knot workshop and see what we can produce in collaboration with one another.
The whole process has been a learning curve about my fear as an emerging artist. Confidence in ideas is essential.
Now is the right time to do what we have to do, so despite the current stress with workload outside the residency, I can't wait to get back to see what comes out of the workshop.
So after the collection of the belts came the experimentation!
I had a very trusty assistant in the lovely Level 6 Visual artist Amanda Twigg who agreed to assist me in my madness. Essentially wrap me in the belts I had so cunningly procured!
So we spent a morning experimenting.
I really wanted to understand the starting point of this enquiry about how all of these belts had come together from different histories and how it was restricting to be wrapped in these belts, no freedom of movement. It made me think about immigration and my image looks so shocking (see the following linkhttp:/
The images were very strong, and yes suggestive of the whole BDSM culture, but that was actually the last thing on my mind.
I was more concerned about how I had become 'sculpture-like' and how placing myself in different areas of the project space added to meaning.
What was interesting was how, given what I thought what little time I had to develop this idea at the time, just how instinctive my practice has become. Thats a good thing.
So we're getting the hang of this process,my process. Its very often interrupted. And I often have to look back.
Leapfrogging forward to last month, March when I was all started up again for the residency, what had happened between the first session (November) and beginning of March was that I was all set to be going to a residency in New York (where I should have been now!)
Ideas a-plenty abounded bout a piece of work based upon re-performance and collaboration/public engagement that I had undertaken in Japan a few years ago so time to put those plans into action and involve the students at Salford in this research.
Current enquiry surrounds the use and symbolism of belts and how this symbolises support, dreaming of cutting belts apparently signifies cutting away from the past, which would be the case if I'd gone to NYC. So felt this was symbolic really...
The work I wanted to do with the students related to a re-performance of an intervention I did in Japan regarding a Senninbari or 'Thousand Stitch Belt' - so this again would be another layer of my ego stripped back (See 'Death of The Ego' intervention in Tokyo at: http:/
So late March I would engage the students in French Knot workshop to show how textiles can merge with performance art.
Massive mind maps later...started thinking about other creative processes including that wonderful ' Oblique Strategies' (love Eno's brain!) How can the use of these cards add to the creative process?
Ended up getting involved in a conversation with a Level 6 student who cut the cards and needless to say whatever it was seemed to inspire her to move her work forward.
Next session - I realised I'd never done a French Knot before (on my previous Senninbari I had just done a regular stitch) so another first in this project....
Its made me want to use this not only as a piece for the outcome but also as a process to getting to and outcome - so the stitching is the 'meditative' process and will create the outcome as well.
It gave me loads of ideas on how to move the final piece forward, but I wanted to also explore the idea of the belts as well....put a call out on facebook for old belts from friends so that I could experiment with them.
Historically, in wars, getting the opponents belt from them once a battle was won, was a sign of victory.
This call out for belts also enabled me to interact with people and re-connect with people and made me think about their part in this collaboration, as well as their individual stories and histories which maybe I could play on in the final outcome?
For now experimentation with the belts loomed!
Ok, so you got me. This is my first blog of the residency. Its been fraught with stress for me cos I'm an artist who also does freelance film work and finds it hard to shut off from that / manage time etc... so the story so far is that I started the residency, ran out of time and money to continue, started it up again this year and due to work stress haven't been able to continue since before Easter.
I hope thats going to change cos I've got renewed excitement about the piece of work I want to come out with...!
First blog I'll leave you with this though that I'm telling this story about my AA2A journey retrospectively...beginning with some written meditations around process a la Marina Abramovic.
I'm all about process, collaboration and getting rid of the ego, and, yes, I spent my first day of my residency back in November exploring one of Marina's training processes to bring artists into the present. The trick? Write my name without taking the pen/pencil off the paper and make this activity last an hour / 60 minutes.
An interesting technique which definitely enables you to block out a flurry of activity in a busy studio of art students who may not quite get onto what you're doing!
The most I managed? 49 minutes or thereabouts but its a great process that slows you down, clears your mind and definitely brings you to the activity at hand in the present. Its also liberating to not care what those around think about what you're doing. Thanks Marina!