I recently spent 2 weeks doing an art residency at the lovely “Happy Snail B&B”, in the wetlands of Yilan County, Taiwan, this particular area is used half a year for rice growing and the other half, is simply wetlands, I’m sure there is more to it than that, the nearest city is Luodong. I spent most of two weeks recreating a map of the area onto a wall, also adding windy billowing plastic stripe to a sculpture created by a local art teachers students, and I made a piece on their main internal wall.
I asked about a theme for the main project, and “wetlands” came back, which was ideal for me to work with, as I often use nature as inspiration, so I went out and explored the area on a bicycle, took plenty of photos and drew some sketches of the local plants, but finally the plant type that I choose to focus on, was grass.
It’s great using nature as a focus for art, as it really allows me to study and appreciate the world around me, with it’s straight forward beauty and practicality. Nature is full of asymmetrical patterns, or repeating elements that are always a bit different, I like to use this in my art, to make patterns with holes, twists and distortions, but the pattern is always there.
After my exploration I started on the main piece, first I did a number of prints using grass and black paint, then I used the grass stub as a brush and drew blades of grass with that, next I cut around the two pictures, one I glued to brown paper and cut that out too. Initially I was going to select one of the grass images, but somehow I felt that the two could be used successfully, so glued both to the wall.
I decided to use corrugated card, I peeled the paper off one side, to reveal the grooves, this revealed a nice texture pattern of grooves, I continued with the straight edges, already present in the grooves, by cutting the card into almost brick like shapes, I was thinking about digital pixels there, but we do see buildings all around the wetlands too.
The yellow circles are made using paper, which I made at a “paper making workshop” in Taipei, at the Suho Paper Museum. I finally drew some thin lines, curving, looping and interacting with the various shapes, my idea here was to bring some unity, connecting different parts and a more subtle element that would be seen better close up, like a reward for taking the time to look.
I am currently staying at another hostel, creating a new collage piece, featuring some dragon characters I created, looking forward to sharing that soon.
Thanks for reading, Sam.