Artist-in-Residency programme and exhibition
From 31 May until 10 June artists Gordon Solomon, Avril Ward and Renate Seffer will be in residence at the National Gallery, creating unique pieces of art right in front of visitors to the Gallery. And from the members preview on the 10 June all the way until 25 August visitors to the Gallery will be able to enjoy the three solo exhibitions by the artists.
This years selected artists are Avril Ward, a well-known veteran of the Caymanian art scene having exhibited widely on the island and abroad; ‘Native Son’ Gordon Solomon, widely acknowledged as one of the country’s finest talents to have emerged in recent years; and Renate Seffer, known for her vibrant, whimsical work.
The concept behind this unusual exhibition is modelled on a traditional artist-in-residency programme that aims to allow the artists space to explore and experiment with their art, without the pressures of producing commercially viable work. It will follow a ‘no rules’ policy offering the artists complete creative freedom.
Artist Gordon Solomon says he will be continuing on a series called ‘The Kingdom of heaven’ which, he says, is a survey of the parables of Christ. “All the parables were about the kingdom being at hand and he gave various examples to his disciples. Each is a spiritual lesson therefore it is my pleasure to share with my audience “The lost coin” and “The Reapers” at the National Gallery’s residency,” he states.
Renate Seffer thinks the programme is a great opportunity, not only for herself but for members of the public to actually come and meet the artist, step into their creative world and gain some insight as to what motivates them.
“I’m looking forward to exploring new avenues of creativity, stepping outside my comfort zone and to be able to share my passion with the viewers. I’m also looking forward to working alongside Avril and Gordon and having that creative feedback that you don’t always get on a day to day basis working from your own studio space,” she says.
Avril Ward says she thinks the residency itself is going to be fun, working with other artists, as artists usually work alone, with no-one to bounce ideas off etc.
“Also, I know how much the public enjoy watching artists work. It really puts a whole new emphasis on the artwork, seeing it in the process of creation. I know my friends often feel attached to a work they have seen in various stages. I am happy to share my knowledge and way of working and hopefully I will be able to inspire someone to follow a career in the art world.”
With regard to the following exhibition, Avril says: “I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be honoured by being able to show their work in any National Gallery! The idea that we basically have carte blanche to show what we like is wonderful. It frees us up to truly express ourselves rather than being dictated to about what theme, size, medium, etc. And by having freedom of expression, I am allowing the viewer to see inside – what makes me “tick”.”
Kerri-Anne Chisholm, the National Gallery’s Deutsche Bank Intern for 2009/10 is the curator of this project. She explains that the artists set detailed outlines for the artwork they will be working on during the residency. The Gallery in turn has provided the artists with the opportunity to transform the spaces of the Gallery into their personal studios.
She furthers: “By doing this the public can view the process each artist goes through to create their masterpieces. Students and developing artists will be able to have a behind the scenes look at how each artist operates.”
Kerri-Anne continues: “Many students feel intimidated when you place a paint brush in their hands as they believe there is a specific procedure that has to take place in order to create art, and we want to create an opportunity to show that all there is to it is just to allow their personalities to transfer to canvas.”
This programme and subsequent exhibition is the first time Kerri-Anne has stepped into the role of curator. She says the most challenging part of coordinating the exhibition would be keeping in contact with the artists and getting progress updates, but, she confirms, they have been excellent with this.
“It almost feels like cheating having the National Gallery’s Director Natalie Urquhart available to help me with organising, but so far this has been an eye-opening experience,” she adds.
To accompany the exhibition, each artist will give a lecture on their own unique artwork. Renate Seffer will give hers on 17 June, Gordon Solomon’s takes place on 24 June and Avril Ward will speak on 1 August. The lectures will take place at 6pm at the National gallery at Harbour Place and will cost CI$5 for non-members/free to members. Complementary refreshments will be served.