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Residency Artists

Annabel Pettigrew

24th October – 6th November 2022

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My time At The Garage was a short residency, which focused on the realisation and exploration of the visions encountered throughout my time using Astral Projection and Hermetic Guided Meditation to navigate my way through a period of deep grief.

I go through periods of time when my studio time is compressed due to teaching or working on other projects, so being able to set aside a full week to dedicate to the immersive visual exploration of subconscious and unconscious matter was simultaneously exciting and daunting.

I entered the space with a clearly defined idea of the work I would make. Perhaps predictably, this lack of spontaneity gave way to an almost instantaneous mental block, and I froze. I had to coax myself into a cycle of working, arriving every day at 9am, setting a to-do list, only to fulfil what felt like a daily arc of intention, painting, feeling pleased about the work I had made, followed by despair, feeling unsure of the work I had made, then lunch, a fresh set of eyes, a new direction, painting, and finally some sort of consolidation.

The most successful work made during the week was made quickly, as if I was channelling some energy I had tapped into from the astral realm. Made in a trance-like state, a type of meditation in its own right, I can only describe it like magic coming out of the end of my fingers. This process, like capturing water from a natural spring, is what carries a tangible sense of energy in the work; a sense of being alive, of having captured a moment, of depicting real unedited truth.

The original plan was to respond to pages of writing I had put together following previous trips to an astral realm, however I found that working this way, was like re-tracing steps previously taken, so the imagery created was in some way flat, or already dead. I wanted to make work that effervesced with a sense of new unfamiliarity, and realising how to channel this, or realising how to differentiate between ways of working to enable myself to make this kind of work became a daily negotiation.

The work formed into alchemical chambers, maps of unconscious connection, drawings for plinths made of sound, portal after portal, realm connecting to reality, parts of maps and tunnels becoming people, and the embodiment of sacred guides. I painted the Spirits of The Stones, convened with guides, channelled intuitive working, channelled threads, and communicated with Thoth. A series of intense conversations in the form of studio visits made me consider the transformation of materials, thinking in 3D, caves, bricks, alchemy, transformation and Ursula Le Guin.

A really productive week working through a block. Being able to inhabit a blank space and having the time to dedicate to investigation and exploration. Using Astral Projection to retrieve material from my unconscious and subconscious minds and divining materials to work intuitively in an unencumbered way. I’ve been through cycles of feeling like it’s going well, followed by an existential crisis, followed by feeling alright again. I guess that’s just how it goes.

With thanks to Helen Acklam for the opportunity, and excellent deep chats provided by Phil Root, Karolina Ptaszkowska, and Martyn Cross for this sage advice; ‘The important thing is that you believe it, and that’s what matters’.

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