Below is my new home for the month of February 2015.
I am getting very excited and a wee bit worried. I will be artist in residence on a creative retreat on the Island of Iona for the whole of February 2015. The residency is provided by Iona Hostel http://www.ionahostel.co.uk/. Run by John MacLean this hostel follows a philosophy of sustainable living and also offers creative retreats to artists and writers in the winter months. Accommodation for the month will be in the “Shepherds Hut” which is a tin shed, well insulated and with electric heating and an oil lamp for power cuts. It comes with the use of a byre for a studio space and space to cook and use of washing facilities in the hostel itself. Probably idyllic in May and June but could be a bit of a challenge in February! Iona is a tiny wee island 3 miles by 1.5 miles long sitting off the South West tip of the much larger Isle of Mull.
So preparations are well underway. Thanks to a grant from South of Scotland Visual Artist & Craft Maker Awards I have managed to buy a small printing press from Hawthorne Printmaking Supplies in York which I will take with me to Iona. Having said that – its still quite bulky and heavy (50kg) and I need help to move it so I am trying to work out how to get it there. Getting to Iona from here involves 2 trains, two boats and a bus!
I am also taking a big pile of Somerset paper with me. I have used Somerset Papers for collograph and screen printing and found it to be very versatile, tough and willing to take a lot of punishment. I am hoping to print from found objects as well as making plates so I will be testing this paper to its limits……salty water might even be involved (although not on the press!). St Cuthberts Mill who produce Somerset papers have donated some paper out of kindness (or maybe curiosity to see what a woman in a hut with a press at the continental edge will end up doing)! Thank you St Cuthberts Mill for the help!! http://www.stcuthbertsmill.com
This project represents two new opportunities for me:
- Working immediately with the press responding to the place and what I am thinking about rather than having to wait and travel to Edinburgh Printmakers for a slot on the presses there. I love working as part of the community of artists that is Edinburgh Printmakers but sometimes the delay between idea and getting up to the presses there means my creative process is stilted. The residency will remove that delay – hope I can rise to the challenge ! http://www.edinburghprintmakers.co.uk/
- Its been a long time (and I mean 16 years or more) since I spent time alone like this. I will be away from my family (husband and teenage children and lovely dogs) for a whole month [n.b. husband proof read blog for me and said it should read lovely husband, children and dogs and not the other way round – oops!]. I am going to miss them terribly and it will be very weird to be on my own but it might prove very interesting to have the space and time to go deeper into my working practice without the routine of family life to bring me back out of my “art head”. There is something about the roles we have – wife, mother, jobs, and the residency will hopefully give me a window of time to reconnect with parts of myself that don’t always get the space in the hustle and bustle of life. One body of work I have a plan to take with me is called “Inner” I can’t really explain what its about in words – it seems to be a non verbal part of me, but here are some of the studies I have made to date on this theme:
Of course the Island of Iona may have other plans for me and this work might not get progressed until after I have come home and processed the experience. There have been a lot of boats and oars in my work in the last few years….maybe they will feature again?
So the plan is as follows:
- Walk every day
- Draw every day
- See what happens next
I hope I manage to produce some new work as its going to be the main part of my exhibition at Spring Fling from 23-25th May 2015! (www.springfling.co.uk/artists). I plan to blog during my stay and put some pictures on my web site (www:sarahkeast.co.uk) and facebook page (link on the left hand side of this page)) so check up on me….especially if you hear of any big storms on the West coast in February. Check if the hut is still there!!!