Outside In is pleased to be collaborating with Central St Martins to match an Outside In artist and a student at Central St Martins to work together at Free Space Gallery, London, until April 2016. Outside In artist Terence Wilde and student Harrison Moore were selected for this opportunity, where they were encouraged to find inspiration from each other within a unique health setting. In this blog post, Harrison and Terence share their experience of the collaborative residency.
My interest in art was evident throughout my boyhood, as my family encouraged me to draw. Yet through my teens and young adulthood I trained as an electrician and didn’t draw at all. In fact, it wasn’t until age 25, new to London and seeing a richer world through fresh eyes that I began to ask questions about the sort of life I wanted for myself. I knew it had to be creative if I was to grow and be fulfilled. At art school I quickly became interested in artists whose practices took them out of the studio and into the street. Francis Alÿs’ poetic gestures (like pushing blocks of ice through the streets until they melted, or dripping paint from his bike while he rode across town) opened my mind to the possibilities of what art can do and where it can be. Before long, I had made interventions of my own in the public sphere, but for me it was important to include other people in my activities, preferably strangers. I felt that people were the most fertile resource. From that point on, as well as continuing drawing, I have aimed to develop numerous ways of implicating people, both in the street and in their homes, in my artworks so that they have become my primary medium so to speak.
Discourse with a diverse set of people – many of whom would not consider themselves to be a part of what we might term the ‘art world’ – keeps my research dynamic and, most importantly, means that I feel connected to society at large. In addition to my intellectual and spiritual aims, I intend for an aspect of my art practice to be an income-generating activity, whereby I work as an artist and a designer for clients across a range of industries. To this end, I distribute flyers, erect signage and tout my creative labour at London street markets under the company name Fine Artist for Hire.
I wanted to apply for the Outside In residency because I thought that, firstly, it would place me outside my comfort zones, which I think is always worthwhile. Secondly, I was interested to find out how my art practice, which is young and fragile, would handle the bumps and contortions caused by accommodating and collaborating with another artistic practice. Thirdly, the residency presented an opportunity for me to play and to make outside of the scrutinising, critical eye of the institution.
The Outside In residency has so far proven to be more formative and fun than I expected. I have made a great friend in Terence. At six weeks in, I can already say that this is and will continue to be an experience I will never forget; a unique give-and-take that is shaping my approach and perspectives on art making and art reception. I expect that it will require several months if not years to fully process the meaningfulness of this experience. As for the effect of the residency on my art practice, I feel increased confidence in my ability to transfer skills between tasks and contexts and, which is more, my imagination is alive with ideas thanks to the amazing discussions and debates Terence and I engage in every week.
I knew the offer to collaborate on a residency was an opportunity I had to take up. I was on jury service when I was approached to do it, so I didn’t have the usual time to dwell on any excuses to change my mind and to avoid something that could challenge me. I let the idea of it breathe over Christmas and saw it as something to look forward to for 2016. I have to say at this later stage (being 6 weeks in) that it is not what I expected and in the most exciting, creative and fulfilling ways).
My main criteria around meeting and being able to work with the other artist were that they be sensitive, open and authentic. These are the qualities I not only respect and relate to in other artists, but things I myself need if I am to work comfortably with somebody. I have learnt to only work with people I like in situations outside of my paid employment and this is working out very well for the both of us.
Putting two strangers in a room, and getting them to make art together seemed a challenge but then Jennifer from Outside In does have an innate sense of who might suit who from her close work with all types of artists. I did have concerns that part of the residency would involve Central St Martins – I haven’t set foot in an Art School since the 80’s when things were run very differently! I had a difficult time doing my art degree with great disillusions and a deconstruction of my creativity – but that’s a whole other story! Needless to say I knew I’d signed up on this residency knowing there would be a stretching of my comfort zones. This is something Harrison and I have talked about a lot at the beginning of our work together.
One word that seems consistent from our conversations is ‘insecurity’. I read that when Dusty Springfield recorded songs, it was a painfully tentative process – one word, then one line at a time into a song. Her insecurity deeply affected and prolonged her art form. Yet ultimately it is this insecurity that informs the final greatness of her work. It was this insecurity that defined the ‘Dusty in Memphis’ album. So from this, me and Harrison are looking at lots of words, phrases and slogan making. We are drawn to Fragility and Shame and Loneliness. But we are, strangely, having a good time with it – oh and contradiction (obviously!).
There are a lot of ideas in the mix and at the moment we feel a bit like we’ve created a monster – a very lovely monster that’s expanding our horizons.