Katie Ackrill, curator and Visual Arts Coordinator at The Pound, invited us to exhibit together as our respective work has a visual relationship and takes inspiration from architectural ornament. To start the conversation we arranged a series of “drawing dates” at Corsham Court, by kind permission of James Methuen-Campbell. During these sessions we worked in sketchbooks, shared ideas and discussed the process of making new work. Katie had given us the word “Grow” to describe the organic nature of the work, and we added “Flow” and “Show” to describe the process in simple terms.
Both of us live and work in Corsham, have great affection for the architecture of the town and felt that we could build GrowFlowShow into a wider, more ambitious project. We were successful in our application for Arts Council funding to help support the making of new work, collaboration, artist development and the hosting of events. Over the past year we have worked in parallel, developing new work and processes in our respective practices. For Anya this has meant blacksmithing sessions with Pewsey based Melissa Cole and for Jo there have been printmaking sessions with Ink On Paper press based in Corsham; joint mentoring has been with Stroud based Abbi Kirby.
Aside from the impetus and financial assistance to make new work this opportunity has allowed a working partnership to develop. The practice of being an artist is often by its nature solitary: the regular meetings and shared aim has allowed for a supportive and dynamic working relationship to develop, with both artists challenging and encouraging each other. The opportunity that Katie put to us, and the Arts Council’s funding, has enabled us to put together a way of working in tandem that can be taken forward providing different views of Wiltshire’s architectural story.
As we approach the culmination of the project with a series of exhibitions and events we are excited to show people what we have been working towards and initiate conversations about the heritage and architecture of Corsham, and how artists can create fresh public engagement. The joint process has supported creative risk and ambition, and other skills have been sharpened as a result: marketing, editing, photography, curation and event planning to name a few. Collaborative working with others has elevated the project as a whole, through mentoring, learning, fabricating and facilitating; there is a wider team at play whom we are grateful for. The impact on our respective practices has been considerable in terms of experience, confidence, creating new bodies of work and thinking about where to go next.
The process has been a lot of hard work, occasionally overwhelming as we juggle families and commitments, but we are now in the final phase where we are energised to create final pieces for exhibition and everything speeds up. Works are being framed, invitations are at the printers, the publication is nearly finalised, logistics are organised, and details such as lighting and labelling are agreed. We can’t wait to unveil the fruits of our labour – we hope you can join us!
More information about the exhibitions, symposium and other events taking place from 10 June to 13 July 2019 is available at http://jotaylorceramics.com/page3.htm
Anya Beaumont and Jo Taylor