Artist in Residence: Cathryn Shilling

Posted On: 25/06/2018

Cane Studies

Why are you interested in visiting North Lands Creative and Caithness?

I was invited to participate in an international symposium at North Lands run by Jane Bruce in 2014 and jumped at the chance. I had always wanted to experience for myself the place that I had heard has changed lives. I fell in love with both the studio and the beautiful, dramatic environment that surrounds it. The symposium enabled me to briefly take a step back from the usual madness of London life and spend time just looking and thinking and playing – something that as an adult we do too little of. I yearn to return and feel like that again.

One of the most inspiring things about Caithness is the evidence all around of history, some recent and some ancient. In 2016 I studied ancient runes local to the area. These investigations lead to a body of work based on the Ogham text that I realised as a hanging woven textile, created by the Scottish weaver Belinda Rose. As a continuation of this work, I would like to spend time visiting the standing stones of Caithness and Orkney, in order to explore this subject in greater depth. As a typographer, written language and the shape of words are of enormous interest to me.

What do you hope to achieve while on residency? 

Working in a busy city is a very intense way of living. There are numerous commitments and distractions in our day-to-day life that deny us the time to we would like to devote to creativity. The significance of a residency is both the time and space it offers, giving you the freedom to explore new creative threads. I would personally relish the opportunity of making for its own sake and allow my ideas to develop naturally, rather than to a pre-arranged schedule.

Investigations into Landscape

My work is principally kiln formed and I have found that this is the perfect medium for me. It gives me the creative and technical freedom to produce tactile, tangible and enduring pieces. Over the past 10 years of my working practice, I have taken every opportunity to gain understanding, knowledge and technique that I have then used in the development of my work. I strive to push fused glass beyond its usual technical parameters, in order to produce unique pieces. But as with most artists, I have had to balance my creative time along with all of the other complex commitments of life. I would bring my 10 years of experience to this residency and make the very best use of the time and facilities that would be at my disposal.

Having visited North Lands Creative before I know that the facilities are exceptional but that it is also a safe and comfortable environment for me to work in. Major surgery on my spinal cord in 2011 has left me with some reduced mobility, so this accessibility is extremely important to me. My disability has in the past precluded me from pursuing residencies in other places. However, North Lands Creative is unique and during my time there, I have never once felt uneasy or hampered by my disability within the studio.

I do not yet have a fixed idea of what will come from my investigations during the residency. However, I have plenty to explore and I look forward to utilising the time and materials granted to me. My wish is to pick up threads gleaned from my previous visits, as well as allowing myself the chance to follow new paths, which are bound to reveal themselves and follow them to fruition. I would like to think work I create whilst at North Lands Creative would become a significant part of my celebrating 10 years of glass in a solo exhibition at Vessel Gallery in 2018 as well as my solo show at the North Lands Creative Gallery from 7th September to 19th October 2018. 

Specify your preferred time frame from April 2018 – March 2019

I envisage that for the first two weeks of the residency I would make good use of the excellent facilities to work on my investigations. At this point I know what these initial investigations would be about and being at North Lands Creative would give me the time and space to pursue them unhindered and see where they lead.

During the second part of the residency I would hope to create work using the knowledge gained in the previous months. The end result would be work inspired by my relationship to time and place so its exact nature is yet to be revealed.  

Cane Studies


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