After spending one month in Berlin, Lybster was a complete change of scenery. The fact that it is so remote and isolated made the whole experience of this residency feel unique and complex.
My project for this residency was called „Let art be your medicine”. The idea was to promote the entire art experience – from the creation of the art object to its perception in an exhibition – as a therapeutic re-search for contemporary well-being.
Exploring the surroundings and letting the feeling of the place imbue my mind was very important and I found it to be refreshing and enriching.
My intention was to allow each environment and community to inform the creative process, its shapes, colours, textures, processes etc.
Having access to a glass studio that is so well equipped was, in a way, paralysing because I was tempted to try all the different techniques which are out of reach at home. Deciding the way in which I wanted my project to go, helped me solve the question of which techniques to use.
One of the main inspirations for the works I created during my residency was the inner shapes of the trap cages for catching lobster. The dynamic between form, material, colour and function was fascinating and I wanted to infuse my work with that personality.
Using wood and unconventional materials I simulated some of the shapes so I could take plaster molds.
On top of those molds I placed metal chicken wire and float glass, placed them in the casting kiln and set up a high diagram.
The result I strived to obtain was a modular glass piece with a conic shape but also with a variation of inner shapes.
The fluidity of sea weed, and the fluctuation of water was also a great source of inspiration.
I have always been attracted to this very particular quality of glass, namely that it can freeze in very liquid looking shapes. This has become, in time, a trait I like to bring forward in my pieces. I like to think of my glass works like 3D photographs of flickering moments in the life of the material – they give the sensation that movement has frozen in its course.
With the help of the amazing Michael Bullen, the technical manager at North Lands Creative, I was able to explore this incredible side of hot glass. In order to do so I built a mobile scaffold from wood and bricks, on top of which I installed a metal network of wires, over which I poured hot glass.
Having previously predominantly worked with recycled glass the behaviour of pure Glasma glass was a delight.
Another technique that I was keen on experimenting with was sandblasting. The results were quite satisfying and I am looking forward to including this technique in my work even more.
At the same time with me at North Lands Creative there were two other guest artists/designers from Berlin, Romin and Hanna. They explored the behaviour of glass with such techniques as pate de verre and sand casting. Observing their experiments was also enriching. I enjoyed a lot getting to know their practice and spending time with them.
An important moment of my residency was the long walk Romin, Hannah and me took along the coast from Lybster to Whaligoe Steps, following the John O’Groat Trail. In total we walked 17,8 km in 7 hours.
Besides the mesmerising landscape, the beautiful and diverse local fauna that we discovered during this walk, what we realised was that humans in different corners of the world are not that different and that sometimes we do not realise how precious and fragile our environment is. Litter is a problem all over the world. Becoming an accidental witness of bad environmental choices provided me with another source of inspiration. I tried to integrated some discarded objects I found during these walks into my work. Here is a work done with colourful strings collected from discarded fishing nets.
One of the meetings that shaped the experience of this residency was the one with the amazing Julie Ross and Merran Gunn from the Community Design House. Their program, through which they encourage the development of creativity, cohesion and social interaction in the local community is very inspiring, as is the way they introduce the international art world to the local community.
For one of their meetings with the local ambassadors for this program, I received a studio visit of the group and did a short presentation of my practice and works.
One of the things that I wished I had more time to do is a workshop with the members of the local community. A wish that will hopefully materialise in future programs.
Meeting other emerging artists like Emma Baker and Emma Goring was equally refreshing and stimulating. They are beautiful people with very interesting artistic practices, focused mainly on the technique of blowing glass. By merely observing and talking with them I feel I have learned many things.
It was amazing to be exposed to so many different artistic practices and to get to know so many remarkable people, among which Karen Phillips and Joanna Garret.
For an emerging artist this type of residency is essential because it offers the time and the support needed to detach from everyday worries and focus entirely on one’s own practice and work. It feels like taking a big breath of fresh air.
The main reason I applied for this residency was to broaden my horizon which, in turn, would allow me motivate and guide my students. As a young assistant professor I think this is crucial. I feel that this residency provided me with the skills and experience needed to inspire my students and to further their interactions with the world of glass. The artists I met during my stay at North Lands Creative are people I would gladly work with on future projects. By having the time and the support to focus on developing new works and explore pending artistic ideas I feel I managed to infuse novelty and excitement in my artistic practice and to grow both as an artist and as a person.
Thank you, North Lands Creative! Thank you, Berlin Glas eV! Thank you Creative Europe, for supporting this type of programs! It makes all the difference in the world!