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  • Writer's pictureSara Pace

Artist's Residency in Ireland 2017

This year I was awarded the Residency+ programme at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan co.Clare, Ireland. The award I won was funded by the Arts Council in Malta through the Cultural Export Fund for artists who wish to travel and explore their art further afield. I chose to revisit the Burren College of Art, as this was a space in which I found myself during the two times that I had visited before for Summer Workshops. Returning to the space for a whole month was a dream come true, since the area offers breathtaking natural views and a warm and highly invested group of people run the college. The people of the area have always been welcoming and ready to share their thoughts in a comfortable and down to earth manner. I also needed a month to my own thoughts, as felt that this was the ideal place to let myself free to explore on an artistic level.

I started the residency by writing about my thoughts and experiences in a journal, I was primarily looking to reconnect with past friendships, as well as to meet new people, but I was also focused on listening to own voice. Having met with my mentor for the Residency+ programme, Ruby Wallis, I discussed with her where I saw the work going, as well as the projects that I had just completed in Malta, prior to my arrival for the Residency+. Through our discussions I was guided to different artists as well as exhibitions which where taking place around Ireland at the time. Notably the Culture Night exhibitions which took place on Friday 22nd September. I was also given the opportunity to present the Min Hu l-Malti? Project during a poetry reading night within the College Tower, as well as during lectures about artists who have dealt with migration through their art for the Undergraduate students studying at the College.

I spent the residency working within the Barn studios, along with other artists in residence from the Alumni Residency Programme. My work during the residency fluctuated between long walks in the Burren, with just my camera and tripod, recording the space and my interaction with it. I was also focused on collecting small objects suck as gnarly sticks, washed up shells and particular stones. My focus started to turn towards the liminal space that is created through the effects of the rain and fog on the stones that make up the Burren and the beaches the run down to the ocean. The soft roundness of the the fog as it rolled over the round tipped mountains and silently reached the shores to dissipate caught my imagination, as it felt like the land was being caressed by water in all senses. I was also exploring the various caves that run beneath the Burren, again being formed by underground rivers in this karst landscape.

The effect of water touching and changing objects caught my interest, and thus I started studying how objects looked inside and outside of water, how water changed their colour and effected their textures, at times wearing them down. This effect I sought to bring out through drawings and photography. The effect of water was inseparably linked to light, as with the rain and clouds the colours of objects invariably changed, sometimes becoming brighter, whilst at other times becoming muted. I experimented with charcoal textures and un-marking to play on the sense of intangibility that low clouds hiding geographical spots was having on me. Creating visual metaphors of the space that I was surrounded by, finding that the smallest of objects and changes held my fascination.

During the last week of the Residency we held an open studio exhibition at the Barn Studios, for all the students and visitors to the College, where the work in progress was shown and discussed.

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