I meant to write this post on New Year's Day to keep to my schedule as conscientously as possible - didn't manage of course because the decision about my use of time came down to making art work or writing about making artwork..... I finally have got the time to write because I'm bedbound with a nasty bug and can't stay upright for too long, so a break from the studio is in order.
In the run up to this year's big exhibition in Beijing with Niamh Cunningham, Gulistan and Jin Mei (our working title is 'Like an Iceberg') I've started work on a series called 'Age of Exploration'. The first finished work is on my homepage and the slideshow above shows progress on a larger work in the series which is in 4 parts. In fact I can't work on more than 2 parts at any given time because the studio is too small.....
Of course, I started work on it without measuring the ceiling height in my dining room (the only wall in the house that can take it) and then discovered that it's 10cm too low. This meant setting up a system of leaning supports so that I could actually assemble the work and check that everything would link up. I'm going to ask a kindly neighbour with a higher ceiling to lend me a wall once I've finished the painting
These photos show the ongoing progress, the stretching is temporary because it will have to be destretchered for transport to China and I need things to be floppy so I can do the sticking and burnishing.
As there's a lot of cutting out to do I time the process and try to watch videos/films related to the theme while scissoring away which is quite fun in a nerdy way. So far I've watched all 4 series of Vikings (it's not great so I on't feel bad about keeping one eye on the cutting out all the time) as well as In the Heart of the sea. That comes out at 4 series x 10 episodes - each 45 mins = 1,800 mins + the film which is 122 so a total of over 32 hours of cutting out excluding the cutting out where I've been listening to music or having a conversation on the phone. Nothing like multi tasking.
I'm also rereading old favourites like Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island and Lord Jim which were such memorable experiences from my childhood and adolesence. So that's all the 'light side' to the project, there is of course a darker one which relates to crossing water as a refugee or a migrant and this is the aspect that keeps me awake nights. I watched The Crossing recently, an extraordinary documentary film about the Irish Navy resue mission in the mediterranean
I wish that all those people who use refugee almost as a term of insult would watch this and begin to understand the difficulty of what being a displaced person means.
As we sail into 2017 I want to make art about important ideas, histories and ethics, to seek meaningful collaborations and reach out to many people - to dive into my own age of exploration.
Fion Gunn is a London based visual artist with an international multi-media practice.