So, it comes with great sadness, and no doubt a genuine sense of relief for those who hoped to have a regular stream of posts to read from my residency, that I write what will likely be my last blog post as the ‘Official’ AIR etc…

My blog posts have been big and few and far between, rather than little and often which, as any nutritionist will tell you, is not the way to go about it properly, and for that I apologise.

I’m sure it’s come as no surprise to those who know me that I’ve been a somewhat erratic poster. In my defence, if it serves in any way as an excuse (Which I would imagine Mr. Holligan wryly stating from under his beard upon reading this that it isn’t) I’ve been so genuinely invested in the many aspects of the residency that I’ve been allowed to be involved in that I haven’t had the time to post as much as I would have liked to.

In the lead up to the residency, I had a naively optimistic idea of the ‘future me’, the ‘resident me’, who would be posting (amongst lots of other things I’d like to think of myself as happily doing in the future but don’t in the present) on at least a weekly basis, regaling anyone who stumbled across this blog with incredibly eloquent and acerbic, but above all insightful anecdotes of my time here… But that was clearly never that realistic I suppose… However I’ll quit with the self-indulgent guilt fest and get on with the wrapping up of the many loose ends I’ve accumulated over the past five months (Even if very few of them have been acknowledged on this blog).

Mea culpa

Anyway, first up on my loose end list is a catch up on the past month or so.

I’ve found the time that has passed since my last post has absolutely zoomed in, not least because as well as the usual time I’ve spent in the studio, but I’ve also been given the chance to do a bunch of firsts, namely serving as an install technician for the BTEC and HND2 shows, as well as be extended the opportunity to help with the curation of the HND1 show.

Installing the shows was an absolute pleasure. It was way more taxing than I had expected it to be though. I’d assumed I’d go in and be all chilled out, floating around, drilling in the odd screw and holding the odd spirit level, but it was much more intensive than that, which was phenomenal, as it meant that I was not only able to ‘give back’ and earn my keep so to speak, but it also meant I got to jump in at the deep end and see what the BTEC students were up to with their final projects.

I came back in the Monday after the deadline for the BTEC hand in and had a final wee wander about, and was genuinely impressed with the quality on show. I really feel that, even in the interim from when I was here as a BTEC and HND student, the courses has developed at such a rate and are genuinely up there in terms of an experience, and quality of output to that of a fully-fledged Art College.

Which is evidenced by the multiple students who are going from BTEC straight into second year at Art College, not to mention all of the talent in the HND groups. All of that is testament to the staff over those courses, so at the risk of sounding as though I’m toeing the party line, kudos.

The HND2 install was over at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and again, was an absolute pleasure, a labour intensive, knackering pleasure but a pleasure none the less. Any grievances come down to a lack of decent cardio on my part, certainly not from the students, who were really great to work with. Again, the big thing that the HND course seems to give them, is a higher level of self-sufficiency and critical analysis, which means that by the time the final show install rolls around, it’s pretty plain sailing, certainly in terms of what I could offer.

I was however given the honour/punishment of giving a speech on the opening night. As I imagine the target audience for this blog are mostly those who were at the opening, I won’t go into too much detail, other than to acknowledge and extrapolate a little on things that I was obviously far too nervous and, I’d like put on public record, unbelievably, painfully hot, to remember on the night… Mainly the obligatory “thank you’s”.

I’m going to make this as un-Dawson’s Creek Monologue as possible, but it’s bound to happen at points so please bear with…

I fully expected the residency to be little more than extensive studio time, which would have been great in and of itself. However the last five months have given me the opportunity to be way more involved than I expected to be and I’ve found it un-quantifiably beneficial. The tutoring aspect of the residency has been something I wouldn’t have had the chance to do otherwise, certainly not so extensively. As well as that, I’ve always said how much I feel a genuine fondness for Edinburgh College (Telford during my time here) as I feel it was here where the ‘penny started to drop’ and I found the things that I was able to build my practice around. Art College was obviously beneficial no end, not least for the time and space it afforded me to continue to build upon my time at HND, as well as the facilities to help realise the work I wanted to make. However it was Telford where I first found out that a ‘corner’ existed, let alone that it would behoove me to ‘turn it’, so it is a genuine pleasure to be able to come back and be involved again in a different capacity.

Although I’ve given it short thrift on this blog most of the time (I want you all to know how hard it was for me to resist the urge to wright Column Inches just then), the studio I’ve had during AIRetc…, along with the time I’ve been lucky enough to spend in it, has afforded me the chance to push my practice into places it would have taken much longer to get to otherwise. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a number of exhibitions over the course of the residency, something that if anyone’s read my previous posts would know that I was happy to forego for the tenure of AIRetc…, so as to wring as much contextual development out of my practice as possible. However rather than serving as something that stopped that development, it’s been a really great opportunity to showcase it. Having the chance to develop my practice behind closed doors, on my own timetable has been amazing, but I’ve also had the chance to have little pauses here and there and show off that development publicly at times, and that’s been really useful.

I am in a group show next week as part of the Embassy Annuale, and then have the AIRetc… exhibition towards the end of July, and lastly a group show in August. As of what comes after that, I’m unsure at the minute, but the residency has coincided with a little rash of shows, which would have been nigh on impossible to do without access to the facilities I’ve been afforded here, which I’m really grateful for.

Lastly, a real, heartfelt thank you to the staff, namely Colette Woods, Alan Holligan, Jennie Temple, Neil Russell and Jen Ferns, who have not only made me feel incredibly welcome, but have allowed me to jump in feet first and be far more involved in the art department than I probably had any right to be.

Before I sign off, I’d like to come clean. I may have been guilty of a little hyperbole at the top of this post, as although my residency is due to finish over the next few weeks, I plan on still keeping things active on the blog until the show officially opens. My AIRetc… exhibition is to run from the 26th of July to their 28th.

So my intention between now and the opening of the show, is to use this blog as something of a forum for me to talk about each piece, contextualize the works, as much for myself as for anyone else really. I think it would be an interesting experiment for me, considering I often have reservations about how the work comes across, what it intimates and what it doesn’t etc, to have that information exist publicly somewhere else prior to the work being displayed.

Neil

 

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