The Graduate Monthly Barge Residency is a three-month-long artist residency aimed to provide the Graduate Monthly collective the opportunity to develop and showcase new artwork in response to the socio-historical and environmental conditions of the Brighton Marina area and the barge itself.
Host: Susuana Amoah, (ONCA)
Guests: Ella Husbands & Tom Nicholson
Susuana: Hello, it’s Susuana here from ONCA and today I’m on The Barge with some artists in residence – Tom and Ella from Graduate Monthly. We’re going to talk about their residency and their upcoming exhibition. So hi Tom, hi Ella.
Susuana: How are you doing today?
Tom: Very well thank you.
Ella: Good thank you.
Susuana: Awesome. So can you tell us about who you are and what you make?
Tom: Yeah sure, um so as an artist, I’m interested in site specificity. Usually based on local locations around where I live which is Brighton. Um, sometimes it can take the form of er public interventions or site interaction. I kind of document and spend a lot of time in the sites as the kind of work develops.
Ella: Um, I create er, video installations and they normally take the form of video projections and sculptures – sculptural shapes. They’re often informed by er, altered perception.
Susuana: So what inspired you to take part in this residency?
Tom: So it was basically the brief really that we were given, it was kind of dubbed originally as a site specific enquiry. It was an opportunity for us as artists to work with this specific site and it’s kind of a place that we are all kind of familiar with er, but actually um, I’ve never really kind of thought about it in a kind of artistic context before. So yeah.
Susuana: So can you tell us a bit more about graduate monthly?
Ella: So graduate monthly is a support network run by ONCA and it was set up by Lorna who is a graduate of Brighton University, in collaboration with ONCA and Lydia Heath, the gallery manager. And yeah, it aims to support recent graduates, recent art graduates who often find after you leave uni, you lose that um, support network, with having people to share work with or critiques or do exhibitions with and generally where to go with jobs and applying for funding and all these kind of things that you suddenly learn that you have to do when you graduate.
Susuana: Have you drawn inspiration from the Barge and the surrounding area into your work?
Tom: Um so, we’ve all collaboratively spent a lot of time walking around the site um, and actually here at the barge, using it here as a studio. And also just a place for conversation. So as I was saying, we’ve been going around the site, spending quite a lot of hours um, just trying to understand the space, interacting with it, just observing the way people use the site and just kind of documenting things through film um, and photography and I’m sure other means as well. So yeah it’s kind of just going out there and bringing those things back to the studio and finding ways to manifest work.
Ella: Um, and I think being here for such a long period of time has like made us notice certain repetitive things that happen each day, such as like… this being such an industrial area but then we’ve got the natural phenomenon of the murmurings where the birds all go together in patterns in the sky and they go under the walkway there. So it’s a mix of natural and urban things that we can observe as well, which has been really interesting.
Susuana: So this residency is all going to come together in the form of an exhibition. Um, can you tell us a bit about how you’re preparing for that?
Tom: Yeah so in preparation for the exhibition, personally I’ve just been looking over the footage, photographs, writings – everything that i’ve collected over the last few months. Um and just kind of trying to find ways to manifest some work, um, just trying to think about the forms and shapes that it’s going to take. I think collaboratively, we’re quite interested in using the exhibition, not only as a summary of our entire experience – so perhaps showing processes rather than just finished works. And also there’s been workshops taking place with er young people um, so we’re hoping to kind of display those works as well as they’re quite a large part of the residency too.
Ella: Er yeah, so just adding to that, i think – what you were saying about it being more of a timeline of what we’ve done over the course of the residency rather than just one outcome. We hopefully want the audience to take the time to walk around and kind of read and watch and get to know like the journey that we’ve been on in a way, rather than just one outcome that they can reflect on, it will be sort of seeing all the ups and down in what we’ve done.
Susuana: What tips would you give someone who is thinking about doing a residency at the barge?
Ella: Yeah I think just spending as much time as possible in the space. Um, the more that you’re here, the more that you put into it, I think the more that you would get out of it. And things that you might not… that you couldn’t predict about the boat – the more time you spend here the more apparent these things will become. Like the rocking of the boat can have a real effect on you and will inform like how you use the space, how you make work in the space and how you feel when you’re here (laughing).
Tom: Yeah like Ella said really, just spending as much time um, as possible interacting with the site and the people that are here – residents and members of the public. Understanding the history of The Barge and its connection to the community and the marina itself. Yeah I think just being aware of that and not kind of taking for granted how much of an odd site it is. And yeah just harnessing people’s feelings towards it I think is really, really important.
Susuana: How do you think this um, or has this residency contributed to your development as an artist?
Tom: Yeah well I think it’s been quite a challenging brief um, which is definitely a good thing. And it’s very, very different to really any other project that I’ve worked on and maybe the group has worked on before. Which is kind of starting from a place, rather than something internal or something that comes from you directly, you actually have to be a little more outward looking and find inspiration from your surroundings as well, so I think that’s been quite an interesting challenge.
Ella: So yeah personally, the residency has helped me er, to improve as an artist but also just in my personal life – because I have chronic fatigue syndrome, coming here everyday, having a set place to come has like helped me to expand my day to day activities and has helped me to actually improve health-wise. And it’s been a good stepping stone towards doing more normal work and um, yeah taking part in the workshops and making work in this specific place has been really therapeutic as well.
Susuana: Do you want to give us some information about the opening night of your exhibition and why people should come?
Tom: Yeah so our exhibition is on Saturday 27th April and the private view is from 6-9pm. It’s going to be in some ways kind of a typical exhibition scenario where there will be finished works but we also plan to show kind of developing ideas and behind the scenes processes of our time spent here.
Ella: Yeah and I think there will definitely be drinks and music as well so that will hopefully entice some people. And yeah there might be some poetry reading, dance and a DJ… hopefully. And yeah just lots of art for people to come and see and um yeah they can come and explore the Barge themselves.
Susuana: OK, thank you for talking to me today about the residency and I hope to see you soon.
Tom and Ella: Thank you.