National Sculpture Factory (NSF) Residency ~The Final Build 1

My three months at the NSF is up at the end of this week. Starting the MA and NSF residency together was maybe not the best idea as I feel that at certain times each has distracted me from the other, so in a way I am happy enough the residency is finishing. Still, I will miss it. Their open doors policy, that is, being primarily an organisation that assists artists, makes it a great place to be and every single person in the place has been open and friendly while allowing eachother space to get on with their work. This is somewhat unusual in an arts organisation. I was only reminiscing today about a sketching club I joined in Waterford a couple of years ago. I spent two hours with a group of people who claimed to be open to new members and yet none of them would talk to me. They quite literally ignored me. When I was younger it would have been upsetting but these days I find this ridiculosity quite hilarious and I walked away laughing after a couple of hours. So am ever grateful to have connected with an organisation likethe NSF. I wish I had been able to give it my full attention. With this in mind, while I was talking to another graduate award winner, Sarah Roseingrave-who is finishing up this week too-I had the idea to use all the material in my space and build a final ‘heap’. I would map the creation of the ‘heap’ in order to analyse my practice and in this way it will feed into my Studio module for the MA.

I spent the weekend mentally sorting through ideas without any real light bulb moments. Iwas humming and hawing over having a starting point-an idea, a piece of furniture, a process, a material. I thought perhaps I could build a vehicle with the material in the space as a way to clear that space, like Simon Starllings ShedBoatShed project. But I realised that might be too time consuming.  I did want to have something with wheels on as I wanted to be able to move for practicality but also to signify or accentuate its temporary status. I toured some second-hand shops looking for trolleys and prams but they struck me as being too possessed of their own identity. This is a curious thought as I have been consdiering the possibility of using a particular object and interfering with it as a way to expressing the boundary, both its adaptation and destruction. I guess this particular work is more about the process and the energy that creates or destroys the boundary as my degree show piece was, while the pods I make are more about the result of that process.The pods, or possible egg, may be where I settled for the next while, in order to explore somematerials.

Anyway, In the end I decided to use a wooden pallet and then I could move it with a pallet truck. Move it where, I don’t know. I’d like to take the finished ‘heap’ out and set fire to it but I think I might get in trouble…

I was still trying to put a shape on the heap in my head. Would I constrain all the material into a square column, or columns, to represent a constricting boundary?Would I make a space rocket that has crashed to represent…well, just for fun. But I was tiring myself out. Part of my process is to try to resist planning, controlling. Perhaps this tension between planning and process is the point of my work. Still I usually have some  vague ideas when I began building.


This time I knew I wanted to use everything in the space.  I knew I wanted to build high, and, looking at the pod I had already made and thinking of space ships, I thought of making a creature on stilts, like one of the Martians from War of the Worlds.

warheaderI had already made a frame-work for a column, so, after adapting a pallet I found to a square shape (I am drawn to squares and square pillars at the moment, it is a good shape to represent a framework or structure) I placed the column on the pallet and after some struggling and a few accidents I got the pod up there too. I started then, as I always do, to have fun. I love when I am in the work like this, where it does not have to make sense, where it is just the process of creating something instinctively, where every decision is about what tickles me, what attracts me, what I like. It is like sketching or painting. One can get lost in it, let go, be oneself. As soon as I stopped working of course I began to doubt again.

What the hell am I doing?

I must learn not to stop.


Later, while walking home I was pondering a conversation I had with another artist at the NSFtoday. We talked about boundaries and the presence and simultaneous absence of them-for instance Alan Watts wrote about the boundarys of the person, the skin, being porous under the microscope. How does one this express or explore the paradox of the porous boundary in ones work?A binding boundarylessness, a framework that does not constrict. It was then I realised my ‘heap’ had taken on both the features of the tower and the pod, the tunnel and the hole, the inside and the outside or, if you like, the phallus and the vagina. It is the structure and the wreckage of the structure.

Tomorrow I will build on….

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