For four Newcastle-based artists, Stevi Cannon, Penny Dunstan, Alison Smith and myself (Jen Denzin), our week-long Gunyah Residency at North Arm Cove has represented just this, an opportunity to "swim freely". We whiled the days away in our own spaces constructing, mapping and developing ideas. The evenings generally offered time for curatorial planning and discussion.
Sculptor and installation artist Stevi Cannon absorbed herself with the possibilities of the gum tree, in the key of frottage. In addition, dried seaweed rehydrated in ink and salt water provided hours of constructive investigation.
Stevi Cannon taking rubbings from the Gunyah surrounds, 2012
|Stevi Cannon, Dancing afternoon shadows across ink drawing, 2012|
|Stevi Cannon, Fottage, 2012|
Painter and photographer Penny Dunstan industriously produced several acrylic equine paintings. Penny also harvested many treasures from fluctuating tidelines in preparation for another suite of masterfully executed Van Dyke prints which will be exhibited in her POD Space solo show, in June.
Penny Dunstan hard at work in the downstairs studio space, 2012
|Penny Dunstan, Tools of trade, 2012|
Penny Dunstan, Painting in progress, 2012
Assistant Curator at Newcastle's University Gallery, Alison Smith, was afforded uninterrupted time to focus on her own practice. Multiple layers of masked, inked and hand-drawn line combined with luminous suggestions of solar flares provided the footings for intriguing work in Smith's upcoming group exhibition at the Lake Macquarie Art Gallery, in October.
|Alison Smith brought her inspiration with her on her laptop, 2012|
|Alison Smith, Tools of trade, 2012|
|Alison Smith, Works on paper - developing ideas for woodcuts to come, 2012|
As for myself, I was able to execute a gloriously large cross-stitch crustacean (possibly a connection to the estuary's fauna!) on a work I had begun some time ago. Labouring away in the presence of friends who are fellow artists was a very rare treat.
Jen Denzin in a sunny Gunyah nook, 2012
|Jen Denzin, Mapping out a giant prawn, 2012|
|Jen Denzin, Unusual materials including brightly coloured garbage bags, 2012|
For the four of us, Gunyah has constituted a momentary "inner exile" from the general mayhem of our day-to-day lives. I think Duchamp's notion of "swimming freely" is fitting in this context as we were unfettered by obligation and commitment and free to be... well, just artists, actually.
Jen Denzin 26/03/2012
*T.J.Demos, 'The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp', Cambridge MA: MITPress, 2007
|We shared our Happy Hour with the kookaburras on the verandah. |
They trained us very well!
Read Stevi Cannon, Jen Denzin, Penny Dunstan and Alison Smith's residency proposal and see images of their other work here