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.

Homgoo Art Residency

I have spent the last month doing a residency in Jiaoxi, Taiwan, in the North East here.

Below is a work that functions as a sign, a collaboration, I added pieces of wood around the existing Chinese characters, making good use of Homgoo’s father’s waste materials, from is job as a interior designer. I varnished them to create a warm colour and to help bring out the grain, then I added some newspaper pieces, to make it feel more aged, and visually interesting, finally I painted between all the pieces with white paint, to create more contrast. This would have been easier had I painted the white first, but when working spontaneously, as I often like to do, this happens, so I guess some more forethought will be helpful for a more efficient workflow and as a way to raise the quality and aesthetic of my future works.

Here is a more abstract work, my favourite, and I’m not feeling that there is anything I want to change about it. Time and space away from a work helps me see if it works or not, regularly seeing it is a big help, speeding up the process I believe.

This is my little work space, at the place I was staying. It’s a shared space, but as I’m the messy artist type and was here for a while I was able to acquisition this area for myself. Here I have mainly been painting, wood cutting and scissor cutting and gluing.

I bought this blank mask and started working on it, using pens, and water colours, during a recent trip to Taipei, whilst sitting in a cafe. I was thinking of what I could make to sell at an market here in Jiaoxi, it’s an interesting canvas, connecting character, pattern and abstraction, what I normally do on a plain flat surface. Masks are really interesting to experience. Puppets also crosses my thinking and I am going to be getting more involved in making them in the next few months, I am staying very close to Lize Puppet Colony for two weeks.

I have also been experimenting with waste plastic, painting, gluing string and paper onto it and using wood cut tools, these work well.

My main idea is how to make plastic become more aesthetically pleasing and tactile. I discovered how nice it looks after cutting into the layered surface, revealing a lighter surface beneath, where the light is passing through one layer of plastic instead of two, it works much better with the light behind, but after photographing I really feel the grimy wall adds to this, what do you think?

I’m at a new place now, where I will be spending the next two weeks, painting two works on internal walls, at the Happy Snail hostel, here in Wujie Township, Taiwan, so looking forward to sharing those works very soon.

Also I have been invited to create an installation at Mud Studio in Yilan City. I am thinking about my proposal at the moment, with a focus on shadows, it will probably be a narrative piece, maybe around my dragon story, to tie in with shadow puppets and my interest in working with them in the future in some way, or perhaps just collaging them, or elements from shadow puppetry into art works, maybe even without characters, more with a focus on elements, weather, and nature, almost more about the environment. Lets see my thoughts are still processing and I’ll do some sketches to help me develop the concept.

Thanks for reading, Sam.