This has been such an amazing and rich arts residency that I was confiding to Director, Christian Veillet that it is hard to leave. I was honoured by all the people who opened their lives and discussed the passion with which they do their work. Everyone was extremely supportive, even if not really ‘getting it’ that an artist wished to make art about their lives and narratives. I have been invited back to present the finished art in the future and am keen to revisit this place and these people.
The final exhibition was a marvellous party, with a mixture of telescope staff who participated in the workshops, their family members and other LBT staff. I had two walls of my own explorations and two walls of the work produced by LBT staff and their families. Director Christian Veillet announced that 3 PM on Friday was the time for the big ‘reveal’ of the board room transformed into an art gallery. There were delicious nibbles, and nice things to drink and it was all great fun.
My final full day in Tucson was spent driving up to the telescope to show it to my husband, Martin. On the drive we experienced sunshine, hail, rain, rainbows over the dragoons and possibly the rare Mt. Graham red squirrel (between 8 and 9,000 feet).
I am most grateful to everyone who was supportive of me on this venture — for Christian for having the vision and trust to invite and be supportive of me on this residency and as well, the scientists, the engineers, the software specialists, the technicians, the accountants and everyone who told me about their part in this magnificent observatory: the Large Binocular Telescope. Thank you!
Today I complete several of my own projects and lead LBT staff in several creative break workshops. I will be teaching sumi-e, cyanotype print making and a 365 degree landscape exercise. The latter is a very old exercise that dates back to the early days of the famous Art Students League of New York art school. It was likely brought over to America from Europe some time about 150 years ago. The five participants arrange themselves in a circle which is divided into five pie shaped wedges. Their backs to the centre of the circle, they look outwards to the landscape, and taking their accordion books, open the first double page spread and using a stick dipped into ink, draw whatever they see from their vantage point for five minutes. Then they reach back to the centre of the circle, grab some sand, sprinkle it over their wet ink drawing and close the accordion book. The books are all handed to the position on the right and the people all move to the next position on the left, open the new book, go to the next double page spread of the accordion, and once again draw for five minutes from the new perspective. This is repeated five times so that five different books are created at the end, which include five artists’ renderings of the landscape from five different points of view including 365 degrees. It is always fascinating to see what different people come up with — accountants who try to draw every blade of grass, astronomers who never include a horizon line or engineers who produce drawings of a park bench which are so concrete with information, you could probably build the park bench from their drawing. I will photograph the results and post them on this blog.