On 11 and 12 December Contours & Connections artists Diana Burch and Louise Scillitoe-Brown will be in residency at the gallery. We caught up with them to ask them a few questions and find out a little bit more about their work.
How did you come up with the idea of Contours & Connections?
Diana: We came up with the idea of Contours & Connections as a driving force of fulfilling our desire to work together. Our work appears to be very different, but the more we took a critical eye to our current work, the more similarities were revealed. Louise works with ideas of contemporary human life in the built environment – including digital communications – using structure and colour to make the invisible visible! I also work with connections, but in the natural landscape. I map changes in the land through human engagement and the forces of nature, examining geologies and social history. Together we could see common themes in networks and environment, hence our theme of “Contours & Connections”.
What are you hoping to achieve with the two day residency?
Louise: Since discovering the similarities in our work we’re very keen to explore this further by working with one another’s materials and ideas and make our own work in response to what we see around us in the gallery and Leytonstone.
Diana: It’s an opportunity – not just to exhibit together – but to create new work side by side. It will be a challenge as we’ll respond to each other’s pieces, so we’ll be likely to move out of our ‘comfort zones!’ For me that means strongly considering colour and order during the residency, the polar opposite of the work I am showing in the exhibition.
Have you done something like this before?
Louise: I was selected to be part of a group of artists working with the collection and specific exhibitions at Roche Court near Salisbury and the Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth. The work produced for the Someone and Something exhibition at the end of that project lead to the development many other pieces (you can see the works shown under ‘Structures’ on my website).
Diana: This is a first for me, so I’m very excited about it.
Do you both have ideas of what you might create in advance?
Diana: I have considered the boundaries and themes of the residency for me, but I think it is important that I don’t go in with pre-conceived ideas of what will emerge. The gallery space itself will add another dimension to the work. As artists, it is important for us to experiment and challenge our practices rather than re-produce the familiar and the ‘safe’. I envisage arriving with a large box of materials and an open mind, and seeing what happens next….
Louise: These two days have been bubbling away in my head ever since we first discussed the idea. I’m resisting having anything too resolved before I start, but am particularly interested in following some of the track mapping in Diana’s work with colour and drawing. Amongst the source material I’ll bring will be photographs of landscape local to me and of the Bush Wood and Wanstead Flats, and local Leytonstone landmarks, such as the tube station which has a commonality with my Spectrum Pavilion structures. I’m feeling very inspired and feel that this residency is just the start.
Can members of public come into gallery and ask questions as you are working?
Louise: Yes, the gallery is open and we welcome questions. Sometimes having to explain why or what helps clarify the reasons for making, sometimes you just have to make and see what flows out. Often people bring their own interpretation of a piece or series, which is completely valid and can help articulate something in the work which is buried in our subconscious.
Diana: Often people bring their own ideas and viewpoints that enrich the work, or can put words to an idea that is forming that I have not yet grasped. In this way, the residency will not just be a collaboration with each other, but it will be ac collaboration with the viewers as well.
What are your next projects?
Louise: Both Diana and I have been invited to join the KanKan exhibition at the Espacio Gallery in Shoreditch 13th – 24th January 2016. I’ve secured funding to run art projects with children, helping them to develop not only their creative talents, but also decision making, project management and communication. There are further paintings in the Icon Series in progress and some ideas for structures using recycled communication related materials.
Diana: I have a residency in an educational gallery setting in South-East London and will be leading workshops for them and for the Pump House Gallery in Battersea in the near future. I feel strongly that art can be very powerful, whether my own work shares ideas and perspectives with the viewer, or – even better – if it inspires people to engage with their own creativity.
For more information on Louise and Diana’s work: