After graduating in 2017, I undertook a short residency in the courtyard at Dalby entitled ‘Forest Eyes’. I have visited the forest many times during the 7 years I’ve lived in Ryedale and I was excited by the opportunity respond to the forest location further.
Thinking about my work in the context of a specific location has been really important to its progression. After initially planning to make some large-scale work on site, I have adapted the objectives of this current residency (which has spanned lockdown) to re-evaluate my practice, gather my thoughts and collate a digital sketchbook of drawings and reflections on recurrent themes within my work and my response to the forest. Although this was not the planned outcome, and Dalby Forest has been inaccessible for many weeks, I have found this experience really valuable, and like so many of us during this strange time, I have reflected a lot on my own connection to nature and the value of such spaces.
I am currently interested in how, as humans, we use physical vessels as containers of emotion. We assign meaning to ’special’ objects and rituals in order to emphasise experiences we consider important. This residency has been an opportunity to think about how we use specific places or types of location in the same way. We might visit certain places to feel particular feelings for example. Our experiences in life shape our perceptions of our surroundings and our interpretations are always subjective. We ‘store’ away our experiences internally in order to function within society. This compartmentalisation of emotion fascinates me and I am constantly trying to depict the imaginary spaces within which we store these feelings or memories as physical spaces or narratives. For example, rooms within houses, holes in the ground, tunnels, boxes or cages.
This layering of past experience and present activity is something I try to replicate in my drawings. I will often erase and re-emphasise marks, generating layers and allowing things to rise to the surface or fall into the background as they do in our consciousness. I am acutely aware that we can be present in a situation, but only ever ‘half here’ as the mind wanders. We are everywhere we have been.
I hope to make a printed publication of these thoughts and images, and to exhibit some of this work within Dalby Forest in the future.