Last week was a difficult one due to an unfortunate bout of illness. That said, looking back on the to-do list I wrote at the beginning of the week and how much I managed to achieve, it wasn't a total write-off. Perhaps the most exciting development from last week is that I have finally booked a Paris trip with my talented friend Emily. We have been talking about and planning this trip for well over six months... and now it's a mere two weeks away.
We wrote artist statements for the trip quite a while ago as we were planning in anticipation of applying for funding. So whilst attempting to rest last week, I began altering my statement to make it more relevant to the work I am concerned with making at present. Emily and I are both obsessed with list-making so although there will be an element of spontaneity to our days in Paris (particularly on Disneyland day...) it will be refreshing to go with a framework for the work we're looking to create in response to our time there.
My role as an artist doubles up as one of a cartographer.
My entire body of work is concerned with the theory of deep mapping; the conceptual art of cartography. Hence, my primary concern during my time in Paris is to make a body of work that acts as a map, charting my experience as a visiting artist in the city; a self-initiated artist residency.
We will be doing a great deal of walking during our time in Paris and this walking will be crucial for the work, linking heavily to my interest in Psychogeography. My research into psychogeographical concepts has revealed that alongside London, Paris was the city in which the concept was born. In my reading I have discovered the nineteenth-century French literary culture role of the 'flâneur' (a French noun that translates as "stroller"). Flânerie is the act of walking whilst observing both society and the streetscape surrounding.
Philosopher and cultural thinker Walter Benjamin, upon reading of the poetry of Charles Baudelaire, deemed the figure of the flâneur as one of academic interest; an emblem of modernism and urbanism. The flâneur has become an important symbol for many contemporary artists and writers, particularly those with map-making and walking at the heart of their work.
I would like to embody the concept of the flâneur and use the streets Paris to continue my on-going exploration of the point where psychology and geography meet to analyse the emotional impact of a place on its human inhabitants. The 'Mapping Paris' group will fall under a much more urban setting than my current 'Mapping the Waterlands' group. My photography, notes, sketches and observations will, of course, be relevant to the Parisian streetscapes, as opposed to the vast Cornish seascapes and landscapes.
In between gallery visits, my daily aim in Paris is a thorough and extensive data collection of the city, ready to curate this accumulation of knowledge when back in the studio. The work will be a concision of the energies and nostalgia I want to conserve, making use of deep mapping to piece together a visual documentation of our wanderings and emotional geographies; a personal reworking and re-mapping of the streets of Paris. The collection will act on the whole as a memory map; an inventory of the streets walked, the places visited, the coffee tasted, the conversations made.
Back to studio work... which has been slow but steady. I have accumulated a lot of 'stuff' up on my studio wall, which can only mean that the little time I've been able to spend in the studio has at least been productive. I have been playing around with embroidery in some of my painting diptychs, looking at making use of intricate details to communicate information that may get lost in the translation between feeling and form.
Another development for my practice as of last week is the addition of printmaking. I played around with monoprinting last year to create textures for my 'Mapping the Cornish Coast' collages, but it was never something I dedicated a lot of my time to. Last week I went into the print room to make a small series of mono prints. I have been using these as mediums to juxtapose my photography in some diptychs which have a very different feel to the ink or painterly diptychs.
I like the idea that my current group of works take their diptych format as the common denominator and that I am free to experiment with different mediums as I wish. Some ideas translate better in one medium to another so not limiting myself to just being a 'photographer', 'painter', 'print-maker' or 'draughtsman' is ideal.
I have also been planning a process-led group of artworks that take the physical act of walking as their starting point, relating back to my interest in doing more field-based research this year. Once I'm less under the weather, hopefully later this week, I will be going on a walk to and around Argal reservoir in Penryn to collect site-specific data for this new group of works.