This is the second residency at The Garage, Clifton, for Emma Gregory, Esmé Clutterbuck and Henny Burnett.
They are building trust and making collaborative drawings, sculptures and installations. Their ongoing shared project is called The House Protects the Dreamer.
The residency took place over four weeks from December 2020 to January 2021, between the first two Bristol Lockdowns. This stretch of time was broken up by Christmas, which took place with severe restrictions on getting together and transport. Unlike during their first Garage residency (September 2020), the artists were not allowed in the same space at the same time and had been leaving each other notes, found objects and pieces of work in progress to complete.
For the following conversation Henny is on the outside and Esmé and Emma are inside, masked, 2m apart at all times. The Garage space has been filled and refilled. At one point it looked like this:
Record of chat end of second Garage residency:
EG: Let’s just list some words that come to mind looking at the work we’ve made here… struggle for order; control; tension
HB: humour, lots of humour; ‘the domestic’; femininity; there’s lots of gender stuff here
EG: like used up, worn out?
EC: Like misery, as in ‘abject poverty’
EG: what do you make of the plait in this piece?
HB: hair-pulling, nastiness, it worries me
EC: I’m getting upset actually because that’s how my cousin ended her life
HB: My cousin did the same thing
EC: …but all my work has hair hanging in it. It hangs down your back. That’s what hair does.
HB: The petticoat is on one strap. Uneven. A bit desperate.
EG: I think it’s me bringing that element in. You often come in and balance things.
HB: Yes, I like symmetry. That’s why it upsets me – more than anything. I don’t like things slipping off.
EG: It’s louche. It’s lost its virginity.
EG: The net pieces are deeply sexual. Were the ones with willies made later?
EC: No they were made first. Turned into pants. It’s partly because of your legs (Henny).
EG: The legs were a catalyst.
EC: I made long legs with tissue first and then bound them up.
HB: They could be tails.
EG: They’re not though, are they? Those are male pants and those are female pants.
EC: I made a big one from a towel but then I thought… oh no. Can’t go there.
EG: Sometimes one makes a thing and wishes one hasn’t seen it.
HB: Your piece Emma with the tights is obviously referencing the pants.
EG: Everything I’ve done references the legs Henny or the Esmé’s nets. The butterfly net piece wouldn’t have been made without the Esmé’s nets first.
EC: I’ve been trying to make something with nets for years.
HB: But Emma your (bamboo) house was the starting point for all of it really. I’ve been making in response to that.
EC: Also, you said if I were going to use the towels I’d cut them up.. and so I cut them up.
EG: I like this piece that talks about knitting and I really like the piece stretching from wall to table. It’s just a twiddle but placement is everything. I’ve tried to twist it: put a torsion into it.
I love the ambivalence of the black things on the house.
HB: Protective? Danger?
EG: Malevolent tongues – sticks and stones will break your bones – and then they’re spears protecting and then they’re flames destroying…
EC: Charred wood in a house, bombed out…
EG: Ravens’ wings, all sorts
HB: There’s something happening between your fabric piece (Emma – pink monoprint on sick cloth looks like a stretcher) and your patchwork, Esmé.
EG: It’s not just the pink?
HB: I guess it’s because I know they’re both about your children.
EC: I see that as a stretcher
EG: Helen (Acklam) saw it as one of those Eskimo sleds
EC: Where is the rest of it
EG: It’s all still there in the plaits
HB: I love that you could reverse it… I think there is a lot more here than the first time around. More exciting.
EG: Helen thought so too. We’re getting closer to pushing each other.
HB: Particularly when you play ‘Puck’!
EG: It’s all those sessions on Zoom talking about the project and writing the (Black Swan) proposal. Hours and hours of chatting. As soon as we started to think about the house as being ‘unsafe’ for the dreamer. The house is ambivalent, sometimes a place for sanctuary but sometimes not. Then the whole thing is allowed to go a bit darker… Weirdly, some days I’ve been either too depressed to come or I’ve come in, burst into tears, and then started making. Really very raw. I don’t think that shows, that distress.
EC: It does. We’ve just been talking about how dark it is. I’ve just seen this (the two pairs of legs on the window wall between the windows). I like it because it’s standing up but it’s not legs. It’s something running down the wall.
HB: Well something went wrong.
HB: I’m excited about the show (Safehouse 2, London, in Sept 2021).
EG: We’ll have to watch the install and not play too safe. I’ve had trouble even sharing on Instagram this time. I’ve been feeling too vulnerable. You’ll have to make sure I get there (to the point of exhibiting). I’ve been having real trouble putting things out there for over a year. Instagram was my way of pushing back against this but now I’m having trouble even with that.
‘My paintings are composite landscapes, built from elements either invented or observed separately in different places. There is a perfect word for this in German ‘Mischlandschafen’. This word, and the beautiful Avon Gorge makes me think of dark German forests and the romantic landscape paintings of Caspar David Friedrich’
I studied Fashion Design at Kingston University and Painting at Wimbledon School of Art. And have worked as a professional artist since 1990.
Bristol is now my home after spending time in Oxfordshire and London. I have a permanent studio at ‘BV Studios’ in the south of the City.
I have also, since 2014 been the co-ordinator of The Gallery at Centrespace Co-operative in Bristol city centre.
A beautiful warm, peaceful studio space.
It was good to spread out and concentrate on several projects at once. Some large charcoal drawings, a new canvas and the continuation of a series of small paintings started in the autumn called ‘Takeaway’, an on-going collection of paintings on flattened cardboard food boxes.
Clifton has many very old and beautiful trees, cliffs, rocks and sprawling woodland leading down to the Avon Gorge.
A Lovely, perfect way to spend the first month of a new year.
Emily Snell lives and works in Bristol and is both a visual artist and art psychotherapist. She creates sculptural forms in silicone which reference the body and explore themes of femininity and touch. In her work, Emily seeks to let the materials speak for themselves and evoke emotion in the viewer. She is exploring ambiguity, seeking the spaces in-between and investigating the place where an artwork ends and her body begins.
Spending three weeks as artist in residence at The Garage gave me the opportunity to respond to the architecture of a space and make new work on a larger scale. My aim was to try out new ideas and be playful.
I was initially daunted by the empty white space and had mixed feelings of excitement, expectation, fear and anticipation. I had a few works in mind, but mostly I wanted to focus on the making process and respond intuitively to the space and its architectural features without being burdened too much by the need for a fixed outcome. I began by filling the room with large sheets of silicone, lengths of cord, plastic tarp and metal fixings spread onto the floor. I tried out different configurations and ways of hanging, juxtaposing the softer more fluid silicone materials with the harder industrial metal. Highlighting the contrast between the two materials brought a sense of tension between the body-like material and its environment – an idea I explored further in several of the resulting sculptures.
Spending consecutive days at The Garage helped me to focus intensely on developing my practice without other distractions. Inviting others to view my work throughout the residency and in the final weekend not only helped me to resolve my ideas to a point that felt more final yet still playful, but also gave an opportunity for insight into how others experience my work. This as an important aspect of my practice, as I aim to communicate with and generate emotional states in others through the materials that I use. Being an art therapist means that I am constantly channelling my emotions in an open-ended way through my work and others observing my work is a way of being seen.
Reflections/observations gained through completing the residency:
The silicone sheet material worked best when manipulated only lightly e.g. draped, suspended or creased. The material is read in different ways depending on the context, sometimes appearing like leather or fabric.
The metal fixings and beam clamps introduced a sense of tension and this sometimes felt clinical and uncomfortable.
There was an absence of text and titles which was intentional. I was keen for viewers to explore the work in the present and in a spontaneous and childlike way. I wanted people to experience the work as sometimes teasing, seductive, subtle or joyful. Viewers told me they were also interested in learning more about my making process and it would be an interesting idea to include more documentation of this.
The context of the work is me and this is something I want to explore further. What is the connection between the materials and myself? How do I capture the materials in space? Are they fixed or fluid? How does my body interact with the materials? And how do I want others to experience these intimate moments?
As artist in residence at The Garage for three weeks, I was able to gain a distance from and reflect on my practice in a new context away from my studio. I found this immensely valuable and it has inspired me to further explore the links I want to make between myself, the work and those who view it.
Karolina lives and works in Bristol, but was born in Nowy Sacz (Poland). She gained her MA from The Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 2010 and in recent years, she was enrolled on the Turps Art School Correspondence Course.
Karolina works across painting and installation and articulates poetic, inter-subjective dialogues. It results from myriad sources: psychoanalysis, linguistics, the mundane as well as art history and pop culture.
Karolina’s works mirror painterly sensitivity defined by vitality, drama and sign-tracing. She highlights the physicality and psychology of the painterly gesture. She asks a question if the image has a body, and if yes – is it a social, a physical or a psychological one. Ptaszkowska addresses these aspects in various layers of her practice.
I spent three months working at the Garage towards my (postponed) solo show with a gallery based in Warsaw (Pl). Time at the residency aligned with the national lockdown, and the cycling to the Garage became my window on the world.
I have a home-based-studio and work in isolation, therefore I appreciated regular friendly chats with the host (first month only through the window glass), as well as other studio visits, that initiated longer discussions about methods, and ideas behind the art; and led to new social connections.
I was able to comfortably immerse myself in the work, experimenting with a scale, different structures and textiles for my paintings, as well as non-linear narratives. Being able to focus on a few pieces at the same time, as well as a prolonged time-frame for my thought and material processes resulted in a more consistent approach to the overall picture for my art and future possibilities.
“My studio practice is primarily painting led but I also work with sculptural forms, interventions and installation. The works usually depict beings in ponderous poses and transcendental states, their personal possessions charged with human characteristics. Taking inspiration from the artwork and artifacts of ancient civilizations, together with signifiers of contemporary living, I try to describe a world that slips between the cracks; something that is equal parts frightening, funny and falling apart.”
The time I spent at the Garage was a pause in my regular studio practice and a chance to pull together some rogue elements that had been knocking around my head for some time. Having the space to spread out and play was a welcome break from the tiny and overcrowded workspace that I normally call home. It was an opportunity to throw some daft shapes and not worry what the outcome was going to be; it felt like I was dancing and nobody was watching.