Residency report: Anne Numont

My experience of Gunyah turned out to be one of drawn mindfulness and self reclaim. Unexpected as I had brought a project to do further work on, set up studio, conducted experiments coating sheets with wax and had the intention of making paper. 

Anne Numont in her Gunyah studio

The reminder that life is fleeting and precious instigated a change in creative direction at Gunyah. As a timely concern, there were bushfires burning north and south during my residency. A ‘catastrophic’ rated fire danger warning was issued for North Arm Cove and despite the blue skies and clear sea, I saw the smog in the north, sunrise and sunsets looked ablaze and the smell of smoke was prominent especially at night. These observations made me want to stay at the house for the entire duration of my residency with no desire to day-trip away. Considering the fires, the NSW drought and the precious rainwater supply, I was hyper-conscious of my consumption. I concluded that the paper making originally planned may be insensitive as it can be a water-intensive process. Simultaneously, I returned to mindful habits I held dear (but momentarily forsook in city life) such as yoga, sunshine, smoothies and a spiritual practice. I mention these things to provide context as to what influenced the direction of my work at Gunyah. I contemplated how special the experience was/is because it can only happen once as an official artist-in-residence. The bushfires also heightened an appreciative attitude towards life.

My inner voice distinctly said on the first Thursday night: “Draw.” It felt like the most appropriate creative response as it was mindful, minimal and mobile (in case I had to evacuate). The anxious-calm paradox at Gunyah was that I felt safe despite the property’s obvious susceptibility to the elements and I thought this complexity was an interesting filter for any new work. I did not want to replicate or draw figuratively. I wanted to draw the sensations of being at Gunyah from what I heard, felt, saw, smelt and touched; responding to phenomena such as the sound of the rhythmic waves against the rocks, the sparkling reflections of the sun in the water, the canopy of trees swaying in the cold wind after dusk, the saltiness of the sea, smoke that laced my sinuses but kept me grateful and alert in the serenity, the fridge humming, birds chirping, crickets singing, Carly Simon on cassette, smooth floorboards, the cradling comfiness of the lounge cushions as I sprawled across them and drank tea …

The next day, I jumped off the jetty then started to draw ... differently. Risky. Perhaps it was from leaping into the void and surrendering to the ambience. Glancing up occasionally, I admired the beautiful scenery but concentrated more on sound and touch to guide my mark-making; a form of abstract, automatic drawing using a humble 4H graphite pencil on a small sheet of Arches watercolour paper. On-location. En plein air. No eraser.

After my first drawn response to Gunyah, I felt a surge of belonging. As mentioned in my proposal, I wanted to explore concepts of home, rest and shelter - ideas that I literally lived out at this residency. Thus, I applied this mindful drawing method to other locations I gravitated to or frequented. These spaces included the bedroom I slept in, the front driveway (where I met a neighbour who kindly offered his yacht as a bushfire emergency plan), the backyard, balcony, jetty, art studio, kitchen, living room and the downstairs bathroom. I treated each drawing session as a meditation and documentation of place, taking photos of what I saw, where I sat, noting the direction I was facing, the temperature, the time and duration of each drawing session and took audio recordings on my phone (although some randomly switched off). At times I noted what I dressed in as this made a difference to my physiological experience.

Anne Numont, drawing locations around Gunyah

A visual language of Gunyah emerged. Unforeseen but a lovely surprise! I feel crushingly vulnerable sharing this work because I haven’t drawn this way before. I'm happy because I believe I responded in the most mindful and honest way I could with the supplies I brought and having considered what was happening in the greater region.
Anne Numont, Gunyah 02 (Balcony), 2019. Graphite on Arches paper

Anne Numont, Gunyah 04 (In Bed), 2019. Graphite on Arches paper
Anne Numont, Gunyah 07 (Living Room with Carly Simon on Cassette), 2019.
Graphite on Arches paper
Anne Numont, Gunyah 10 (Kitchen), 2019. Graphite on Arches paper

Minutes before I left on my final day, I took this photo of all 14 drawings. It was uncanny how I only had 14 sheets of paper of this kind and size left to draw on and they fit perfectly together on the coffee table. Fate.

Anne Numont, Gunyah 01 - 14, 2019. Graphite on Arches paper

As for paper making, I collected fallen vegetation from the backyard, beside the jetty and the front driveway with the intention of embossing into wet pulp, back in Sydney. Having responded to the atmosphere of Gunyah by abstract drawing, paper making with artefacts directly from the site provide a complementary form of documentation that is more literal but also intimate.

My time at Gunyah was amazing, productive and a privilege. In a serendipitous way, I did what I set out to do by organically creating a mindful methodology. I drew in a spontaneous way that expanded my art practice while getting to know a new place. Personally, I began to heal or recalibrate with loads of self-care and joyful activities that undoubtedly contributed to how this experimental drawing project came about. I left with beautiful memories of my stay: leaping off the jetty, greeting the sunrise, howling at the full moon and dolphin-spotting. At high tide, I swam under the jetty, free-dove and shook hands with the gorgeous yellow seaweed underwater, waved to fishermen on speedboats and neighbours on dinghies. A whole house to myself - I’ve never had that much domestic space in my life. So lucky!

Thank you to Kath Fries and the organisers of Gunyah for this marvellous opportunity.

Anne Numont, view from Gunyah jetty

Anne Numont
Gunyah artist-in-residence report
November 2019 

Anne Numont: upcoming artist-in-residence

Anne Numont with her work, Identity Ecology v1.1. – 4.0, 2019 at Manly Art Gallery. Photo by Peter Morgan 

Born in The Philippines and raised in Australia, Anne Numont is a Sydney-based artist. In 2003, she completed an Honours degree in Design at UNSW, and has since also traded as a designer in the television industry. Place, perception and memory are central to Anne's art practice. Experimenting with method and scale in the field of contemporary drawing, she makes landscapes and informal geographies. With a syncretist approach, references include migration, Australiana, her Filipino heritage, cubism, typography, weather systems, astrology, wellness, science and sustainability. She is fascinated by the potential of light, landscape and mapping to project aspects of space, self and society.

Anne Numont, A Personal Geography, 2017, handmade paper, fire, acrylic, graphite, gesso, cotton,
rice paste, PVA, foamcore, vegetation and natural dyes

While working, Anne relishes the handmade and elemental. The mercurial quality of nature helps her to reconcile inherent polarities of life such as permanence / temporality, home / dislocation, forgetting / remembering. Tailored processes spawn different outcomes from drawing to handmade paper, collage, mixed media and installation. Underpinning her work is a state of liminality and the possibilities this space can manifest. Anne's work has been selected for exhibitions at AGNSW, Manly Art Gallery & Museum and Mosman Art Gallery. She has been a finalist in national art prizes including The Dobell Prize for Drawing, the Hutchins Art Prize, Yen Art Awards and Cliftons Art Prize Asia-Pacific. Her work has been acquired by North Sydney Council and private collections in Australia and overseas. 

Anne Numont, Generations, 2018, Handmade paper and pulp, fire, pigment, pastel binder (gum tragacanth),
 pastel, PVA, sampaguita scent, local vegetation 
During my residency at Gunyah I plan to continue with experiments for a body of work including handmade paper, drawing and installation about memory and personal deep mapping. With respect to the meaning of ‘Gunyah’ I would like to explore concepts of home, rest and shelter in my work.
Anne Numont, Parked 1, 2016, graphite, gesso, acrylic, handmade paper, vegetable dye and
vegetation (sourced from Primrose Park) and PVA 
on Arches paper

You can see more of Anne's work on her website