Friday, 2 July 2010

My Residency @ Aberystwyth Arts Centre

by Lucy Harvey

Hello, my name's Lucy and I tentatively title myself a 'conceptual metalsmith'. My work is currently in 5, an exhibition at Aberystwyth Arts Centre until the 14th June, alongside Priya and Annabelle (who are the current artists in residence) and previous residencees Raph Juergen Colmar and Katherine Sullivan.
My residency spanned December to February 2010 which was this year's big freeze. It was the first time I have ever stepped on frozen sand and probably the wrong season for exploring fishing but as someone who is interested in subverting the function of objects this probably worked to my advantage.

During my time in Aber I did what I always do to spark the wheels on my creative practice; that is to collect stuff. My beach combing amounted to a collection of natural and man made objects that were worn and distorted by their time in the ocean. I was inspired by how these objects were discarded and abandoned on the sea front and by the processes of wearing and tangling that detritus was subjected to by the waves.
This abuse of objects and the ambiguities regarding an item's discardment to the sea chimed in with my enquiry into the function of objects. I paired this inspiration with a direct look at the unrecognised craft processes behind the making of fishing equipment, which I found was not too dissimilar from my own jewellery background only there was less soldering (braising) and more 'cold connections' such as wrapping and riveting. I sought to use my own technical processes - jewellery and small scale metal work- to rework my collected objects into artefacts which subverted function.
This gave me an opportunity to diversify my making skills and respond directly to processes used in fly tying, lure making and weighting. Ceredigion Museum were kind enough to let me have a handling session with their collection of fishing equipment and I looked at techniques and equipment further afield with a copy of Von Brandt's Fish Catching Methods of the World (Forth Edition!) from Aberystwyth University's Hugh Owen Library. Aber Fishing Tackle on Terrace Road got quite a bit of custom from me, and I in turn got a few funny looks as I declined a copy of the tide times and left the shop with a bag full of sea fishing and fly fishing paraphernalia.

Local heritage was also an inspiration and I fell in love with Borth (or "the Munster's Holiday Home" as my residency partner Katherine Sullivan termed it). Borth: A Seaborn Village by Terry Davies painted a fantastically evocative picture of the mana like force of fish on the town in the olden days.
All of this boiled down to a desire to create symbolic artefacts which questioned function. I began making in the final month of my residency after two hugely valuable months of research and reflection. An entire log of my time in Aber can be found on my blog, which is here.

Thanks to the Arts Centre for having me, it's been an utterly invaluable part of my progression as an emerging artist and a fantastic addition to my portfolio!

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