Monday, 12 April 2010

John Jones Artist in Residence Mariana Heilmann

Thankfully to Kate and Lizzie, I had a second month as resident artist at John Jones. The residency has now finished, and I moved out of the studio last Monday.

For two months I worked at the very core of the workshops at John Jones. Walking to and from my studio I had the privilege of witnessing the entire process of frame making; from where the raw wood arrives to where the frames are glazed, sealed and wrapped for delivery and everything in-between.

The myriad of sounds, smells and sights was an inspiration and a lesson each day; the planing, blade cutting, the forming, the sanding, the cutting, the joining, the spraying, the sanding again, the gessoing, the painting, the gilding, the polishing, the soldering, the fixing, the sticking, the bonding, the mounting, the stretching and so on.

Because of the very busy frame making schedule I did not dare to disturb and ask too many questions, but there were wonderful people who, at coffee breaks visited me, brought me materials, and told me about their particular expertise. The interaction with them was fundamental to the work I was able to carry out, for without them, I would have not had the materials that they brought to my attention and keenly collected for me, nor the wonderful coffee break chats.

What a wealth of great and talented people, all highly skilled both in their specialty, and some as artists as well! Tabs' beautiful painted insects and Finoula's stunning drawings are fresh in my mind.

The extra month allowed me to, not only complete 3 commissions, but also gave me the opportunity to investigate the possibilities of the many materials that members of the team at JJ brought to my attention. At first I made small "sketches" with each material. I had, polishing wheels, blades, sanding wheels, acrylic and aluminum cut offs, sand paper, cutting mats, crinoline paper, welding rods and more. All these materials had either been used, or were a bi product of making another. Some of the investigations have remained just sketches for now and others I concluded and framed myself in Perspex boxes.

Though I did the mounting myself, I think that just being surrounded by the world of framing, opened in me an awareness of placement within a given space. Much of the time spent on each piece was spent making the decisions on proportion and layout to enable the work to read the way I intended it.

For anyone interested in seeing what I did during some of my residency, a collection of 9 finished pieces are hanging in the Collection Space for the month of April. I see these as first steps in my investigations, and have plans to make larger scale versions of a few of those displayed.
In conjunction with what is exhibited, I also produced 12 small pieces that are spring boards for potential future ideas. Unfortunately I was not able to exhibit these studio works as one was made of blades and too dangerous!

It has been a great residency. Apart from the abundance of interesting materials to explore and having a great space in which to work, I think I have probably learned more than I realise. The accumulated exposure to the goings on at the workshops and the interaction with everyone at John Jones will, I am sure, contribute in big and small ways to the next steps I will take.

For anyone interested in keeping abreast of what I am doing, please feel free to email me;

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