New Maker Residency at Cove Park
Established in Spring 2019 our first ever resident Caitlin Hegney shares her experience, insights and reflections on this opportunity. All words artists own.
I have been overwhelmed by the response to my Graduate Collection from June 2018. After a few months it was evident that I should begin to progress my work. I was finding it difficult to balance my creative practice with part-time work. I could not find time to think or draw to drive and inspire new work. Making an application for the New Maker Residency at Cove Park, my intention was to be able to clear my mind of deadlines and business aspects of my work, to focus on research and collating inspiration.
My proposal set out to reflect on the rhythmical patterns that imbue my work; pinpointing my affinity to the patterns than my work explores. I suggested to do this by experimenting with tools that could draw across mediums, from paper to metal to wood; looking at the way that they mark, dent or carve a surface. I was fascinated with the expressive nature of drawing with an unlimited material palette. I thought that this concept had potential to grow, so was hoping to consider how this idea could become a workshop to engage the community with ancient crafts. Ultimately, I applied for the New Maker Residency at Cove Park to enrich my practice; allowing me time to think, reflect but also focus on moving forward.
I think it is impossible to feel creatively content when reflecting on your own work, but generally I felt that I achieved what I set out to do. Being immersed in such a serene environment made distancing myself from business aspects of a creative practice particularly easy. Living for a week in a less cluttered environment, allowed me to mentally rest in the early mornings and evenings. I also found that I was much more focused, being limited to the materials and tools that I brought with me.
The first part of my week was spent collating research. I tend to collect articles, photographs, objects and notes knowing they are significant but rarely initially understanding why. Having grown used to the parameters of my workbench, I found it invaluable to use the wall space to organise my thoughts. Connections in my research started to emerge more clearly which I was not expecting. It became evident to me that the visual rhythms that appear in my work relate to a summation of thoughts and observations of ancient culture.
The second part of my week, I was creating a portfolio of drawings in response to my research. The outputs began closing the gap between my 2D drawing and 3D making processes. I partnered precious and non-precious materials together; playing with their perceived value. I did this through embossing paper using 3D metal jewellery samples, applying the dust of precious material to paper like a paint and dying paper with the same medium I saturate the wood. These drawings helped me consider the qualities and values of the materials. Working with gold, you make a mistake, it forgives you as you melt it down and start again. On the other hand, working with wood, it is more sensitive. If you carve into it with a little too much pressure, it will split. That piece of wood is changed forever, it cannot be healed like gold. The wood prevails its unique value over the gold. I feel like this progress was only beginning to explore my notion of creating a workshop exploring the expressiveness and value of materials.
My time at Cove Park made me realise the importance of slow moments in my creative practice; taking the time to read, to gather, to reflect. I found it creatively enrichening increasing mental productivity as opposed to always focusing on the tangible productivity. This opportunity could not have been more perfectly timed. I was feeling saturated in my own work from the the past year. The New Maker Residency allowed me to stop, and take stock for the first time since Graduating. I think that this will help me recognise and channel the direction of my practice for the future.
This kind of support has been invaluable. I was lucky enough to cross paths with visual and audio artists working for the sensory festival Cryptic, as well as a percussionist and a poet at Cove Park. It was fascinating to share processes and inspirations, finding parallels and differences, especially working in such different mediums. Being at such an early stage in my career, it also gave me the opportunity to talk about pragmatic elements such as sustaining a creative practice as a career.
The experience enlightened me on the purpose of an Artist Residency; how it is used to make space to forward creative practice away from the constraints of the everyday. It felt like a microcosmic Art School experience, allowing creative freedom and time which I have found impossible to sustain since graduating. The support has encouraged me to make space, even just once a month to be less regimented about my processes and time. Experiencing the benefits of an Artist Residency has also helped me feel more confident to applying to other opportunities in the future.
Cove Park was an idyllic setting. Tranquil and far enough from civilisation to totally forget about normal routines and commitments. The scenery and ambience permeated with sounds of wildlife was so inspiring and serene. The studio was illuminated with natural light, meaning I was content working until natural dusk. The site was so architecturally balanced, with communal spaces encouraging you to connect with other artists in but also allowing you a quiet nook to bask in solitude. I was made to feel so welcome by the staff and other artists working there. I am so grateful to Fife Contemporary for their generous support for making this opportunity possible.