My time at Hawkwood was a delight from beginning to end. I went with simple expectations of what would be achievable in the allotted time. After all, 5 days in the real world is no time at all. But the days seemed much longer despite my residency coming just before the clocks changed and the nights started to draw in. Time seemed to stretch out giving a spaciousness to the day that allowed creativity to surface without the usual effort often needed to kickstart something new. There seemed to be plenty of hours for dreaming, walking, reading and talking, eating, observing and actually getting something down on paper. The regular rhythm of the day was comforting with the bell calling residents for breakfast, sitting down with the same people each day for meals of delicious food prepared and served with great care and attention. We had lively conversations where we gradually learned a little about each other and discovered many things in common.
I was given the Garden Room to work in, a small intimate space in the main house, with a view over the lawns to the beautiful old tree by the natural spring and double doors that could be opened on to the garden. I gathered my materials together, set up a few objects that I had brought with me to keep direct connections to home and settled in to work. I was at a natural break in the creative process having spent the previous month preparing recent work ready to hang in an exhibition the day after the residency ended. Under normal circumstances this would be a hard time to be creative, but I settled into work immediately creating notes and drawings in my sketch book that progressed into something more concrete as the time passed. By Friday morning I was feeling that I had really achieved a little something that has the potential to be the stepping-stone for a future body of work. This is an exciting and positive outcome from my stay, and I look forward to what comes next.
I would also like to add that the very generous support of both Hawkwood and The Francis W Reckitt Arts Trust not only provides a beautiful location and takes care of all aspects of daily life for the time of the residency but also provides a lasting concrete affirmation that the creative process has real value. For this I am very grateful.
Susan Kester was born in the USA. As an adult she has lived and worked in London, Andalucía and Los Angeles. Now happily settled in Gloucestershire her work is concerned with creating a sense of place through both landscape and ‘found object’. This she does through the process of drawing and more recently painting where she is investigating the blurring of boundaries between memory, imagination and reality. Subsequent to her studies at Goldsmith’s University (BA Fine Art), Kester received a Post Graduate Printmaking Diploma from Central St Martins and has recently completed an MA in Drawing for Fine Art Practice from Oxford Brookes University.
Full credit to Susan Kester and with thanks to the DCMS & Arts Council England for their funding.