How to summarize my wonderful residency at Stiwdio Maelor? very many pleasures, but perhaps loveliest was the bliss and luxury of being given 14 days to indulge in little else but thinking, dreaming, playing, researching and making the things I love, with few distractions. This was also at times a challenge - leaving my busy, often over-full life behind for a spell, still I felt a pressure to keep up the busy-ness, to constantly strive to "do". But I've also learnt that simply doesn't work for me; my way is to slow down, disengage, dream, go off at tangents - to empty myself out rather than fill up my hours - before, in and around the actual making. This is maybe obvious/familiar to other artists; for me it's new.
And the best laid, etc..... I'd thought to work on my North Ronaldsay books project, but Corris had other, more immediate plans for me. In this ex-mining area, slate was everywhere, formed every surface - of buildings, walls, paths, gravestones, and most of all in its vast, mostly deserted quarries, from shale flakes to huge boulders. Once I started seeing and touching and photographing, I got lured and absorbed into a sensual world of textures, hues, patterns and shapes I hadn't noticed before. So my observations turned into a test version of a new small artist's book, Blue Earth, that will evolve into a limited edition work. It includes the full text of a 68-line poem by 15th-century poet, Guto'r Glyn, imploring the Dean of Bangor to send him a shipment of slates. A snippet:
Gwe a rof uwch y gaer fau, Gwisg ei phen, gwasg â phinnau, Main gwiw i ymwan â gwynt, Moledau fy nheml ydynt.
I’ll place a web above my fort, its head-dress, a squeezing with pins, excellent stones to fight with wind, they’re my temple’s shawls.
How could the Dean resist?
I also loved living in our temporary tiny community at Maelor, with two special artists: Irish writer Eileen Keane and London-based visual artist Yuki Aruga. I had a rich tiny glimpse of their work when we spent a morning at the end of our stay sharing what we'd worked on - what a pleasure that was. Thank you both for your company and presence.
And heartfelt thanks to artist Veronica Calarco, Stiwdio Maelor's creator, whose vision and hard work has carved such a special, welcoming space for artists in a beautiful part of Wales, for her generosity and encouragement.
Go, go if you can.