Tracey Coutts: artist-in-residence June 2016

The Gunyah residency was a much needed time out and escape from the weekday school drop off/pick up, weekend extracurricular activity run arounds and the daily maintenance of accumulated mess that a family of four can too easily make.  A solo drive from Geelong to North Arm Cove was surprising easy, I found a café in Bargo that had great pies, the hills and trees around Sydney were a pleasing contrast to the flats around Melbourne and the craziness of Sydney drivers equally reflecting Melbournians on the approach to city turn offs, making me feel right at home.

Tracey Coutts, Gunyah jetty - looking out, June 2016

The first week of my Gunyah residency I had to myself, a very peaceful and clarifying experience.  My time coincided with the July 2, 2016 election battle in full swing, with an early submission I could switch off and focus, no TV or Wi-Fi distractions, not even FM radio.  I had with me a collection of five CDs loaded in the CD stacker, two albums in particular I hadn’t listened to much at home bring me back to the evening log fires relaxing after dinner in the lounge, there was no background noise to drown out the array of intricate instrumental sounds, you could hear the full, layered textures of the music.

Tracey Coutts, Surface tension, digital drawing,  June 2016

Set up in the studio downstairs I found it to be a very productive atmosphere, a light, open space.  The clouds rarely hung around for long, sweeping across the sky.  There were a couple of visits from wallabies in the back garden, the birds were particularly chirpy during the day, and the sunshine was a welcomed change to the drab grey that had set-in back home in southern Victoria. 

Tracey Coutts, Great inspiration, photograph, June 2016

The water in the bay caught most of my creative attention, more than I had expected.  Some days it was rather choppy with a few dolphin sightings that kept you looking out for more. Other days were calm and still but between these varying degrees when the tension on the water was only slight, I could see the idea of the tension affecting a gridded surface.  Pressures from the air pushing in one direction, the currents beneath stirring up in another.  

Tracey Coutts, Tension square series, digital drawing,  June 2016

With this idea I hit the studio pretty hard and focused on a range of five sequences that could ‘program’ a sea of change across a grid to varying degrees.  Using a smaller grid I had played with the pulling of nodes across connecting lines to instigate the push/pull action.  Spending a couple of solid days to nut out these ideas and arranging formats to use with additional software cleared a bit of time to spend with my partner and daughters during the last four days exploring the local area.  I am pleased to have visited Stockton beach which is the biggest beach I have ever seen, topped off with a nice coffee, ice cream and a bit of whale watching at the café there.  The work I have been able to achieve will continue, finalizing prints and expanding of the ideas further.  The Gunyah has been a great creative experience and a wonderful sight-seeing venture to a rather unique area of our coast.

Tracey Coutts
Gunyah residency report
 June 2016

To see more of Tracey's work please visit