The residency was a fantastic opportunity to challenge my current practice and achieve greater complexity in my work, both in concept and technique. Under the guidance and mentorship of the Directors of the centre, John and Grete McNorton, I was able to push my practice in new and unexpected directions and start developing a substantial new body of work. During my time at DRAWinternational, I was encouraged to confront new ideas in an environment conducive to serious research and experimentation, and to engage first-hand with other drawing practitioners from Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as visit local artists’ studios and exhibitions.
The highlight was the opportunity to immerse myself one hundred percent in my practice without all the distractions that come up at home without having to justify it. For the first time in a long time I had the freedom to experiment – and sometimes fail – without the pressure of deadlines or specified outcomes. Even being able to spend time in the studio just thinking and looking was an incredible luxury. There is nothing better than being completely in “the zone”, and excited by what you are making!
It was also a unique experience to live and work in the village of Caylus for such a length of time, “living like a local” and immersing myself in the culture in a way that I could never do as a tourist. Observing the town from my studio window, I became so familiar with the patterns that keep a small village going, and I was able to switch off from all the distractions that come up at home and focus entirely on my work.
This year, I have had drawings selected as finalists in the Rick Amor Drawing Prize, and the Paul Guest Prize, and have just been awarded the Ballarat Arts Foundation Eureka Prize. At the end of 2016, a couple of months after returning from France, I had a solo exhibition and residency at The Art Vault in Mildura, where a large-scale drawing completed in France was the feature work in the show.
Coming up next year, an installation I made at DRAW that featured large hanging drawings on tissue will be developed into a much larger project called “The Space Between” for the inaugural Ballarat White Night, and I will also be working towards a solo exhibition of self-portraits at fortyfivedownstairs in Melbourne in November 2017. Throughout this time I will also continue to develop a body of work centered around the cobwebs that inspired a large part of my new work in Caylus, with the aim of exhibiting in late 2018.
The financial support I received from the Ian Potter Cultural Trust was the determining factor in enabling me to undertake this residency at such a crucial point in my career development. This has been a major turning point in my practice, and the benefits will continue to inform my work for a long time to come.