1 – 29 June 2020
The New Art Gallery Walsall has adapted its Studio residency programme in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic to support three artists based in the West Midlands to produce work from their homes between May and July this year.
Following an open-call to artists based in the West Midlands, the Gallery received 60 varied proposals from a diverse range of artists working across the region. The many challenges that artists are facing during lockdown were well articulated. In selecting, we were keen to see opportunities for artistic and professional development during these challenging times, to support creative approaches to practice amid imposed restrictions and to explore the benefits and possibilities of sharing with an online audience.
Residency 2: Faye Claridge (1 – 29 June 2020)
Faye Claridge is a socially-engaged artist who frequently works with collections and communities. Since lockdown, like many parents and those with caring responsibilities, she has felt under strain to negotiate a meaningful way to deal with the specific context of the current situation creatively, whilst dealing with the practical and mental demands of home schooling and childcare. For her residency, Faye will adapt her usual practice of pairing collections and participants by inviting selected parent-artists to work with the child(ren) they live with and care for. The participating artists are connected to The New Art Gallery Walsall having been in residence or exhibited at the Gallery, or their work is part of the permanent collection. The artists (to date) include: Leah Carless, Jo Gane, Mahtab Hussain, Hannah Maybank, Ben Sadler of Juneau Projects, Andrew Tift and Mark Titchner.
Each artist and child(ren) will create a paired response, presented as either an image of one chosen artwork accompanied by a response/interpretation text from a child/participant or an original artwork image with a new picture/sculpture/response that it inspired the child/participant to create. Faye’s residency will involve others and empower participants who will work together directly, possibly for the first time. Their responses will be shared via an online including the Gallery’s website and social media platforms, facilitating wider dialogue around the parent-child-home-work relationship during lockdown. The project will provide an opportunity to reassess assumptions around artistic practice and family relationships while also offering an essential network of support for the artist and others during lockdown.
Jo Gane with Stanley and Minnie, age 6 and 3
Jo Gane works with archives to explore the idea of the photograph as a two-dimensional slice of history, functioning in relation to the progression of time. She said 6-year-old Stanley’s first creative response to her work for this project was a drawing:
“It’s interesting to see that the image of the bridge, which stuck with me when researching Shaw and Henshaw’s landscapes had also stuck in his mind… [drawn] purely from his memory.”
Stanley and sister Minnie (aged 3) also looked at Jo’s prints and paintings inspired by machines made by Coventry artist and engineer Julian Henry Beck, eventually creating shadows with scaffolding and string to reinterpret the works. Stanley said: “I like the way they move, in my imagination.”
Juneau Projects: Ben Sadler and Hazel, age 7
Ben Sadler is half of duo Juneau Projects, who work collaboratively with other people on themes around society and the natural world. Ben’s home-schooling seven-year-old daughter Hazel during lockdown and incorporated this project into their school work. He said:
“We had a look at images of the Juneau Projects work in Walsall’s collection on their website. Hazel then decided she wanted to make a customized object that she could use, but not something for being on stage with, like the objects we made, so she decided to customize a bag that she could carry around with her when we go for walks.”
“I like Daddy and Phil’s instruments and jackets but I didn’t want to do it on an instrument or a jacket so I decided to do a bag. I did it based on the pigeon Phil used.
“I decided I wanted to do an inside of the bag because I felt since it’s a bird I wanted to do a nest. Inside is for baby birds in a nest. I’m going to carry bird stuff in there.”
Andrew Tift and Scarlett, age 8
Andrew Tift is a realist portrait artist, known for winning the Portrait Award, the BP Travel Award and for numerous commissions including work for the House of Lords. During lockdown he’s home-schooling his eight-year-old, which “is taking a huge chunk of working time”. He commented on this project working with his daughter, Scarlett:
“She loves drawing and painting and [her work] actually turned in to a self-portrait of her as a baby. This was [based on] the first painting that I made of her and she wanted to do this one. I made the portrait of Scarlett because I thought it was quite a striking depiction of her as a baby, without sentimentality. Interestingly, babies have no image to project at this young age because there are no learned ways of projecting and behaving, rather like animals, so you get a very pure portrait. I saw a baby looking in wonderment at the world.”