Week 2 PS2 Residency

arrived up to Belfast today, Tuesday 11 July, grey skies and rain, I felt right at at home :)

PS2 is right smack bang in the middle of the city, not hard to find- google maps and my cautious knowledge of the city from previous visits got me there.

Had gotten no work on the residency done yesterday or at the weekend really, so was itching to get going. Given the total openness of this residency I was able to mould it in whatever way I wanted for it to work for me. So I could have used the time completely at home and not come up to Belfast, but I wanted the connection and experience of at least one trip. Otherwise where’s the magic? So I am here until Thursday morning and then back at the end of July.

I wanted to spread out the drawings I had made, the studio is a lovely space with glass block ceilings- being in it for the first time was discombobulating given my previous experience of it was viewing it through the computer screen when looking at the photos of the space with mine and Niamh’s work in it from the Line of Thought show in 2021.

My plan was to make more red line/ daisy drawings I had started making last week. I want to see what lots of them placed together look like. When I laid out the ones I had they looked a little underwhelming :) But there’s not even 1/2 enough to create what I want, so I will persevere and make as many as I can tomorrow. Looking forward to a whole day of drawing and making tomorrow. Was so great also to get to meet and talk to Jane Morrow and Davy Mahon of PS2 who’d I’d only met via zoom till now-  about PS2/ future plans/ a bit of history of PS2/ funding strategies/ their roles/ job titles :)  and lots more.

filling up the floor space with my bits of brown paper

Wednesday 12th July.

I walked into the city from my accommodation this morning. It was 28 days later-ish, literally that quiet on the streets, until I reached the city outskirts and heard the booming drums. I was fully aware of the significance of the dates of my trip, Jane and Davy had mentioned this and had checked I was still ok to come up given how the city would be at this time. Actually it made the prospect of visiting more interesting.

I have childhood memories of summer and Christmas trips to the village of Rasharkin, County Antrim to my Granny’s house. Rasharkin at that time was a strong loyalist enclave, I don’t know now whether this is still the case. The kerbs in the village were all neatly painted red white and blue and unionist flags hung all year around. My Dad used to have to park his car up the road in the neighbouring farmers yard, out of sight, as we had an Irish reg. I strongly remember being in the back of the car passing through the border checkpoint, seeing the young soldiers on duty with guns.

The noise of the drums I heard on my entry to the city this morning was the Unionist Marching band parade in full swing.

I stopped and watched for a good 20 minutes. It was interesting to see the generations of white unionists, older, younger and children, with very few women participating that I could see. Is it not the done thing for women to march? Must find this out. The oldest marchers and the youngest marchers seemed to be enjoying it the most. The young adult marchers seemed to me a little more self conscious. Most interesting anthropological generational study. Row after row of pinkish white unionists, clean shaven, no hipster beards here, marching, drum laden, pipe wielding, mostly white shirted and colourful sash wearing. It really helped me understand a little more what living in NI must be like. Also I am fully aware that this spectacle, that was fascinating for me to view, might be less so for an inhabitant of NI who witnesses it regularly. As a visitor I obviously have no clue but one thing I could plainly see, it would not be easy to sit on the fence politically or religiously and live here.

12 July Belfast Parade

Anyhow I got more drawings made in PS2 today and had time to reflect on the notion of being away. Being away from home allows you to reflect on literally not being home. There is space and time to be a little more objective about things, and appreciative. I sat, reflected, listened to the faint sound of the drums and shrill pipes from outside and painted more red line drawings. I think of them as drawings, not paintings, although they are made with a paintbrush. I wanted to get 25 made. I will have 15 by tomorrow morning. Actually I will need 16, for obvious reasons :)

I would like to see a wall of these and to be able to think about each one as an interaction. Lots and lots of interactions. I will aim for this and then , when all viewable together, I can decide if I need to add more to them. I will work away and get as many done before I leave in the morning as I wont get this concentrated opportunity to work at them again for a bit. I don’t have a perfect plan for where this work will lead to and that in itself feels like a luxury- not being obliged to produce a specific outcome. So the goal of a residency- to allow the artist space and time to develop work or just conduct research, has been successful already in my case.

12 + 1 drawings