As part of the 2017 Queensland Regional Art Awards, established Townsville artist Barbara Cheshire won the Regional Artist Award for her piece Universal Pulse 1. We spoke to her about her experience of her prize – a fully funded one week residency thanks to The Johnson and Jugglers Art Space.
My introduction to the residency was the enjoyable time I had when arriving at The Johnson on Sunday afternoon. The staff, and general manager Andrew Edsor, all made me feel very welcome. They continued their interaction with me by asking about the concept behind the artwork of mine displayed in the foyer. The discussion and hearing their perceptions and questions about the art piece’s process caused some interesting and fun philosophical points of view. Later on, when entering my allotted room on the 10th floor with its ceiling to floor windows, I realized it could be an urban sketcher’s dream. The busyness of contemporary buildings juxtaposed beside urban historical buildings all hummed with the energy of people and place.
Monday morning was just as stimulating. Jess Cuddihy, Karen Plitt, and Kerryanne Farrer from Flying Arts arrived and after some photos with Andrew we all headed to Jugglers Art Space Inc. Here we met with Peter Breen, the manager of this contemporary gallery. After introducing me to three of the current artists in residence who were working on their art work, he set up a space for me to work. I found the diverse interactions with the other artists about their sculpture, painting, encaustic, and graphic design that were all being worked on to be really thought-provoking. Due to my compromised sight, my original plan for the residency was out of the question. However, each day my explorations with drawing through a blur and using an unknown media proved to be very satisfying. Given the circumstances and although slow, I was happy with the outcome. Unfortunately, I missed a day due to specialists and hospital appointments but was rewarded at QAGOMA on my last day by stumbling into the opening of Patricia Piccinini’s talk and the opening of her exhibition. What a plus and great ending to the residency.
Because I enjoyed drawing and developing the sketches from the windows, I just might accept the invitation to join the Urban Sketchers in Townsville when I can drive. However, the process of my ink pencil experiments will eventually be shared with my students. They could also enjoy and have fun going to another space in time with the medium – always a positive with special folk who need help.
Because my residency produced unexpected preparatory work, I’m now interested in turning them into paintings. These would probably take on a more experiential design aspect like the design study 2a. Apart from those thoughts for the near future, my focus is now on healing and getting my full sight restored.
This residency made me realize how important it is to an artist to have permanent good sight instead of none or only limited vision that comes in short spurts. Secondly, I also realized just how lucky I am to have my sight returning so I certainly don’t take my arts practice for granted any more. An unexpected happening can change a life in the blink of an eye! Thirdly, it gave me a deep appreciation that it doesn’t matter how much you have studied or know, there is always more to learn and joy to experience through unplanned simple things. Most importantly, the residency gave me a peaceful art place to work, heal and meditate on a different aspect of life that was almost my future. So, through the help of Jugglers Art Space, The Johnson and Flying Arts, instead of further research into my encoded process of creating art, the residency became a conduit towards my healing and a week I will always treasure and remember. It provided a space and time for a healing and investigative development.
Thank you all for a wonderful week. To you folk at Flying Arts, Andrew from The Johnson for the amazing accommodation extraordinaire with its great location and very helpful staff, and Peter for his accommodating space at Jugglers. It has been a week to remember.
Two of the prizes in this year’s Queensland Regional Art Awards include artist residencies. Enter by June 29 for Early Bird entry prices, or submit final entries by July 20.