Residency No 4: Inca.R.
Artist: Inca Reynolds
Date: 10th & 11th May 2017
Why would you like to be an artist in residence?
I am very interested in art and there aren’t any opportunities to experience anything like your studio where I live.
Inca contacted M2 AIR from her coastline home in the Isles of Scilly, to enquire about joining us in Bristol for her Work Experience. She wrote us an email that read ‘I am very interested in art and there aren’t any opportunities to experience anything like your studio where I live.’ We hit reply straight away to let her know we would love to have her shadow us on Work Experience for a few days and to offer her a place on the M2 AIR programme. Inca was quick to sign up to M2AIR (we made her aware that during Season One we are inviting ‘children’ of all ages and she was likely to be the eldest in the programme for this year), happy with this she sent over a lovely collection of her ink drawings to demonstrate her enthusiasm/application for M2 AIR.
Inca arrived into the M2 studio via an array of public transports; a boat, a plane, a train, and a couple of buses. In fact this was her first time travelling on a bus by herself.
Before arriving for her residency Inca had chosen the the title ‘Skeletons: Our Buried Bones’ as her brief to respond to and her prep work included some notes and images in her log book on faces, fashion and the Mexican day of the dead celebration. Over a cup of milky tea and coffee for Ali & I, we rolled out a large sheet of paper and discussed her ideas so far and began to build a spider diagram and mood board of ideas including…
– How do you showcase the difference between the body (a vehicle/vessel) and the soul of a person.
– Potentially working with an old shop mannequin as a tool to create the artwork.
– How our daily rituals like brushing our teeth and various body types inform the human condition (a current theme in Inca’s GCSE art class).
– Wowing over Mexican day of the dead sugar masks and skulls and unusual cultural traditions surrounding deaths.
– Working with flowers to represent the transition of life to death.
We had some extremely in depth and quite dark discussions about bodies, bones, life and death. In spite of the stormy conversation we created, Inca had a clear idea of what she wanted to make and how; something telling of her school age and art training at secondary school. Inca was excited about making and we talked about thinking with our hands and thinking whilst doing – which was a good thing. We’d had so many huge discussions we could have easily been stifled if it weren’t for Inca’s desires to get sourcing and making ASAP. We headed straight to the scrap store with a shopping list for more masks, mannequins and Kellogg’s rice crispie squares (something we’d eaten a lot of during her work experience days with us). We were fruitful with our purchases.
Back at the studio we structured the remaining residency time with jobs to be carried out inspired by Inca’s vision:
– After a quick paint, vinyl and sharpie test on the mannequin we decided on vinyl and using the vinyl cutting machine was the best way forward. Inca instructed Megan on colours, shapes and patterns to use and Megan got to work cutting and carving the shapes required with Inca hand cutting vinyl additions and taking her own turn on the machine.
– Ali was instructed to build a black background structure for the mannequin so exhibition guests could pop their head up above the mannequin and interact with the exhibit. Inca drew a plan for Ali and together they wrote a shopping list for the materials they needed.
– Inca got straight to work painting the masks with a white wash base before covering in intricate designs inspired by ‘Day of the Dead’ images we sourced online. She seemed lost in her painting with headphones on, blasting out classical music as she beavered away with skilful detail. By the end of day one Ali and Inca had glue gunned an array of flowers onto the top of the masks.
We acknowledged that the residency had a slightly different dynamic to others, in the sense that Inca was a modestly confident fifteen year old assertive girl and truly directing Ali & Megan as her ‘Sous-Artists’ – providing us with specific jobs to realise her vision. We spent much time making as three individuals but guided and directed by Inca, frequently asking her for direction/confirmation of what she wanted as she had a firm image of what she was building and how it was to be done. This was as close to working inside Damien Hirst’s factory as Megan & Ali would get! The making was fuelled by LOTS of sweet treats supplied by Inca and a mutual love for Karma Cola.
Day 2 began with milky tea and coffees again. Megan & Inca had a project re-cap and Inca re-drafted the plans for the day. Ali dashed straight off to the Scrap Store to source missing materials needed for creating the base and background structure for the exhibit. At lunch time the majority of the making was complete and Megan and Inca took a stroll onto East Street to explore the delights of the charity shops and pound shops, to see what last minute inspirations it might bring. We were able to source some halloween sweets and black fabric for the Private View refreshment station. Inca chose; Ribena blood juice in wine glasses, eye ball sweets and rice crispie squares cut into bone shapes.
The final artwork was the decorated torso, coloured shapes on the front, black and white shapes on the back. It sat on a white wooden platform with a shelf underneath.The shelf was filled with roses and battery powered tea lights giving it an atmospheric vibe. The black backdrop was professionally finished off with text of the exhibition title and Inca’s artist name. Two holes in the backdrop allowed visitors to interact with the exhibit, putting their hands through the holes to look connected to the body and wear the masks on their faces on top of mannequin. A black board asked visitors to contribute what they would thank the dead for? Inca’s examples included grandparents for their splendour and style or the suffragettes for their campaigning.
We set up for the Private View in the Foyer space at BV Studios. We debated taking the exhibit to harbour based museum MShed and doing a ‘pop up’ activity outside. After all it was half term and the finished product made a good photo opp for people to interact with and stimulated conversation that related to the title Inca responded to; ‘Skeletons : Our Buried Bones’ which originated from MShed.
In the end we decided against it for logistical timing reasons and the BV set up worked well. We had a great footfall of BV artists, Hackspace members and family visitors from Windmill Hill City Farm popping to see the exhibit, chat with the artists and find out more about her project. This is the first project we have done where the artists family haven’t been in attendance (due to the long distance) but the feedback was warm, friendly and gushing none the less.
‘Well, I can’t believe Inca has done all of this in two days. What a talented lady!’
‘Congratulations on your first public exhibition, I hope you are really proud.’
‘What vibrant colours and great use of vinyl, you’ve really got vision.’
‘It’s certainly got me thinking about life and death, which is something I didn’t think I would be doing today’
Reflecting on her residency Inca said…
‘It was all an amazing experience. Being able to make art in a professional art studio was the most valuable thing about the residency.’
Thanks for travelling the distance and working with us Inca. We enjoyed being your Sous-Artists and being directed by your defined artistic vision. Good luck with your future and exams, whether you decide to pursue a career in law or art we hope you continue to think creatively and thoughtfully.