Happy Snail Art Residency

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.

Fixed to Flux, kinetic art installation at Mud Studio, Yilan City, Taiwan

This is my first installation art piece, hosted by Mud Studio, with a time limit of two days.

For this project I worked spontaneously and allowed the idea to evolve and grow, starting off with what materials I thought would be easily accessible and that would allow me to make something in a short time frame.

When I visited the space last time, there was a kinetic artwork being exhibited made by Wei Ling Hung, I did a blog post previously about her work at Mud. I’m mentioning Hung again as it inspired my own project to also be a kinetic, moving piece, using a fan, though my direction was to try and create strong shadows, so that they would be the biggest visual element. I find shadows create a strong sense of mood and atmosphere, personally I find them mysterious and calming.

On day one I collected some cardboard boxes from the supermarket nearby, popped into a hardware store to buy some metal wire, and walked across town to find a fishing shop, for some nylon wire. I knew I wanted to create three elements to my work, a central shape, outer directional shapes and thirdly more temporary shapes, but all united through their general location and following a floating movement together. Please watch the video at the end of this post for a better idea of the works movements.

My concept did not form until day two, but I knew early on that I wanted a moving piece, that I would try and use recycled materials.

On day two, I considered what the piece was, it had one central circular part, surrounded by, stiffly suspended, directional shapes, with words describing their movements, and from those hanging loosely, pieces of thin, randomly cut and folded pieces of paper, also with words describing the movements they made.

My concept formed, I saw the central circle as the facts of us, the things that are certain in our lives, that inform our intuition, our gut feeling, then the directional shapes, which represented those things we know, that are certain, but can change in extreme situations, such as nationality, sex, age and the pieces of floating paper, which are the thoughts that are always changing, such as likes and dislikes.

The concept was also inspired by Wei Ling Hung’s piece, as her’s was focused on relationships between people in a community, and for me looking at how her piece moved and interacted, helped to form an association between different movements and the difference between things, the parallels, I guess we could thank categorisation in the English language, and being from a culture where judgment is promoted above anything else, for this ingrained ability in us.

The title “Fixed to Flux” describes the key differences, how somethings are fixed and other things are always changing, or in flux, here is a short video of my installation, I hope it helps to describe the piece, and if you see other thanks from me then please share, I am especially interested in alternate ways of interpreting things.

I have just started a new residency, in a rainy forest in the mountains, near Daxin, Taiwan. My project here is to make a large textile art work, lets see what I can come up with, plus of course photos. Thanks for reading, Sam.