I wanted a space to explore and expand my artistic practice; Hawkwood provided the perfect place, with structured days and other artists to bounce ideas around with.
My work involves research around soil, trees and sustainable food systems, such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and organic farming. Having studied soil scientifically at a molecular level for my PhD, I have always been interested in exploring it from an artist’s angle. As an artist, I am an illustrator and a performative storyteller. This residency was a time of play – freeing up my small, detailed illustrative work into larger more free-flowing pieces, as well as studying the movement of soil creatures through my own body to bring into performance and storytelling.
I did my residency around the time of Samhain (Halloween) – an especially apt time of year to delve into the dark earth and explore the decomposers which give life to the soil itself.
During the residency, I was able to explore the woods and rich soils surrounding Hawkwood, feeling, squeezing and rubbing it into my illustrations. Soil is always something I want to be close to and immersed in, it gives a feeling of being ‘ground’ed. I also looked into the soil through a magnifying lens to search for tiny creatures running around in it. Using inspiration from other colleagues, I painted some of the lesser-known, wonderful and dazzling microscopic creatures found in soil and water.
Serendipitously, two other artists who were interested in human-nature connections and who worked with body movement were also at the residency during the same week. We were able to collaborate through sharing our knowledge and creativity, and made a short film. We shot this in the wood and deep layers of leaf litter, embodying the movement of the various creatures I had been researching. It was an incredibly enriching experience to be able to work with two other artists with similar interests but different skill sets, and I’m very grateful to have been able to meet people with whom there is potential for future collaboration.
Hawkwood has been fantastic for expanding and exploring into my artistic practice, whilst being taken great care of. A perfect mix of feeling held, freedom, personal development space and the potential to create with other artists. I am hugely grateful for this opportunity from both Hawkwood and the Ricketts Foundation.
Full credit to Dr Jasmine Black, with thanks to the DCMS & Arts Council England for their funding.