BY HANNAH MCDONALD
My second residency visit was at the beginning of March and the days were now starting to get longer. Although there were still grey moments of rain and cold, the light gave a hint to the new season on its way and I was very happy to once again be back in Whitstable, working from The Horsebridge.
At the point of this visit I was crafting the third or fourth drafts of the story that will be told through my exhibition artwork - set amongst a modern retelling of the Roman mythology on goddess Salacia, the female divinity of the sea, worshipped as the goddess of salt water. I was also researching the various themes the story will explore and creating a storyboard of how this will be told through the artwork.
One theme that will feature heavily is how we relate to our immediate environment, and the spaces where we feel we can be our authentic selves. Moments when we are able to freely express who we are and our needs, and how we allow that expression to be influenced or inspired by our immediate surroundings.
At this point in my life being able to express honest thoughts and vulnerabilities is something very important to me. As is finding the spaces where I can feel and express these most authentically - and Whitstable has always been this for me.
Over the years, a place where I can allow myself to breathe a sigh of relief with each visit and just be - regardless of what is happening elsewhere in my life. In this aspect there is a parallel between my own relationship with Whitstable and my protagonist’s.
Another influence on the project is the Roman history of the area. On this trip I learnt about the Samian pottery that has been washing ashore over the years, since a Roman shipwreck along the coast centuries before (thank you Hannah at the Horsebridge for sharing this with me!). I went to see some of these ‘pudding pans’ in the Whitstable museum and was amazed by how intact they were and the vibrancy of their terracotta colour.
Once again, I kept a journal each day of my trip, which I plan to share during the exhibition alongside the photographs I have been taking on my old analogue Olympus trip and polaroid cameras.
I have also now managed to get my hands on an old super 8 camera which I hope to experiment with on my next visit at the end of June.
At home, I have been working on the illustration style and how this will appear in the exhibition. Alongside the drawing I am experimenting with manipulating the paper with water, folds and tears to find a nice tactile medium for the exhibition that will compliment the drawings.
I will be back again in Whitstable at the end of June and by then should be working on the final artwork. In some ways it feels like such a luxury to have spent these last two trips, and the weeks in between, working on research and rough drafts, but I do think that taking this time has pushed the work further than I originally expected. With each new development and exploration, I become more excited about where it all could go.