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So it's the end of week 4 and time's gone completely fluid. Like many of us, I've also begun getting out into the world and seeing people again which has been absolutely lovely!

Lots of reading has happened, lots of ideas formed, and perhaps unironically, finished products are nowhere to be seen thus far! (Except a podcast episode).

Continuing the calligraphy practice, I'm now officially on real letters. It didn't take a full four weeks to get to letters by the way... in committing to radical transparency and a process-led approach, you'll be able to see how few sessions over the 4 weeks I engaged in (I dated each session in the margin)...

I am using the following youtube videos to teach myself:

In traditional Western calligraphy, the aim is perfection. As the teachers say in the videos, "consistency is key". For an inspiring example of non-Western calligraphic practice with a focus on expression, check out this video of Thich Nhat Hanh's calligraphy meditations- I don't think you can get any more different! I enjoy that you can see his hand in the marks. As I find my own way to blend process, mindfulness, body and creative writing together, I look forward to find my own visual calligraphic "voice".

It's definitely an inherently very mindful and focused practice- the ones I concentrate harder on always work out the best and each "mistake" is a record of where my mind wandered or I began to get bored.

I am using the book Make Ink: A Forager's Guide to Natural Inkmaking by Jason Logan. A basic recipe by Jason can be found here:

For this gorgeous warm grey, I used eucalyptus leaves with an iron mordant, made of rusty nails in white vinegar. You can see that it went much darker after the mordant was added. However it was still brown after brewing, the grey came in the next week or two.

And here is the colour progression over the over 5 hours of boiling which is recorded in my journal (the place where I keep my life):

So many colours are possible, I look forward to experimenting more in future!

I'm so proud to be sharing this conversation with one of my nearest and dearest creative peers, Naomi O'Reilly, who currently works in creative consulting. Recorded on the chilliest of winters' eves, I attempt to explain the concepts underpinning Immaterial Labour to her, and she reacts! Stick with it through our awkward beginning as we warm up. As we meander through the subject, we go on a few tangents, take a deep dive, and come back up again. It's broadly applicable whether you work in a creative field or not, I felt pretty inspired at the end, and I hope you do too!

The essay we are discussing is Creative Labour by Sarah Brouillette, you can find it here:

Oh, and if you hear giggles, that's our audience of two, Sophie and Caden!

Before this residency began, I'd been thinking a lot about how to have a focused and process-oriented practice- one in which you actually "practise"!

For the last few years, I have been functioning in a deadline-based, distracted and perfectionistic way with a massive emphasis on productivity at all hours of the day, which definitely contributed to my burnout. One of the side effects was that it smashed my ability to focus. By October last year, I could hardly switch between tabs on my computer screen without forgetting what piece of information I was looking for!

Luckily it's largely come back, and lockdown has actually helped a lot to remember to live more attentively. Jenny Odell's book How To Do Nothing; Resisting the Attention Economy has also been instrumental for informing why intentionally cultivating focus this is important (and in our current epoch- radical!)

As a result, in my recent forays back into my art practice, I've been thinking in more depth about the importance of the process of making art, rather than the productive outcome. My feeling is that if you can't relish the process, you'll never be satisfied with the outcome anyway. In response, I'm embarking on a calligraphy project to remember how to learn again, and remember how to practise again, throughout this residency. I also anticipate that it will be nice to have a repetitive activity to do with my hands to help me integrate the big ideas I've just researched.

I've never done calligraphy before, and that's kind of the point. With a 25m roll of rice paper, every single attempt is going to be recorded on the one scroll (this recovering perfectionists' nightmare!) The resulting artwork will be the whole scroll- I'm not touching or "editing" it one bit.

Using my new ink-making book, I brewed a batch of eucalyptus ink from locally foraged leaves, with an iron mordant, making this gorgeous warm-grey colour. This is also a nod towards Jenny Odell's call for bioregionalism- living in context with the local natural and cultural world.

I also decided the phrase "as I practise sculpting life & cosmic forces" as my practise phrase. It was inspired by one of one of the group therapy sessions in my recent work 'cultivating reciprocity' (more on that to come), and it felt at once sincere, magical and a little playful- a reminder not myself seriously but not too seriously. It also seems to capture what I'm talking about this residency when I bring it all back to my own context and my own work- hopefully armed with new knowledge and direction, I'll continue practising to sculpt!

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