Thursday, 24 February 2011

Floods & talking with Judith Kentish

2011 in Brisbane started, as much of the world knows, with floods. Of course, it was more drastic for places in other parts of Queensland than in Brisbane, and the repercussions are not over yet. Pace Project was put to one side while more immediate and important things needed to be done.

 So starting a little later in January than planned, as the flood waters receded in Brisbane, as roads were reopened and the city was still very much mud-coloured in many areas, I began visiting the artists I had contacted about the exhibition called Drawling. I already had a fair idea which works I wanted from them, having trawled through galleries, my memory and online images, but new works made over the intervening months between last August when I first started looking and this January were also in the mix.

Visited Judith Kentish at her studio. Jude is an artist who has undertaken a number of artist residencies in very interesting places, very successfully. A fairly recent residency for her was the Australia Council studio in Tokyo which she had for three months. The work in the exhibition Drawling though, is work Jude completed during an even more recent residency in an unusual and isolated location. But I'll leave the story of that for later, when the exhibition is open. Jude's work can be described as 'slow' in the sense that it can take a long time to make, often consisting of fairly repetitive marks or actions and layers of marks which result in great attention to the qualities of a surface. While she makes work in her studio at home all the time, every now and then the opportunity to undertake that wonderful thing called an 'artist residency' - simply time to concentrate on making time-consuming work without the usual major distractions of paid employment, the usual chaos of living etc - keeps her kind of art practice vital.

Here's Jude's workstation in the studio in Tokyo:

A residency is a perfect time-out for many artists. Do people in other professions have an equivalent where a time & space is arranged in order to get away from it all to get some work done?


  1. The residency is precious! Lasting in its reverberations too... I'm still making with some kind of layering/scent of my days in Japan. It's the 'planned removal' from one life into another.. so potent a space. It's THIS, but more so, when you add the elements of the 'new life'... that you feel you have borrowed for a time.

  2. Thanks for your response Jude - so the value of the Tokyo residency has lasted much longer than just the time spent in Japan? Do you think that's true of all the residencies you've had?

  3. Yes, Jill, I think so... I guess it's because the residency, for me, is essentially an opportunity to lay oneself bare. I think what happens in that experience, is that new pathways are set up between the 'new' and the core.... Something of the experience of being in a new environment demands that one re-orientates oneself in a very essential way. In doing that, new stimuli seem to resonate/reverberate with one's 'baseline being'. Maybe it's like laying down new tissue... new growth at a cellular level. Somehow that feels right for me, which I guess is why the effects of this kind of living and making are long-lasting... the experience has become corporeal... of the body.

  4. Do you go away with work planned, or do you make work according to the place when you get there? Or both?

  5. Well, it's both really. I go with some thread still carrying over from what I have been absorbed in in the studio... it feels quite contiguous, even tho' I am also ready and waiting for something of the experience of being elsewhere to infiltrate. Certainly with my latest residency on Maatsuyker Island I had to go with some sense of preparedness (in relation to materials), due to the isolation... and I had a sense of some kind of starting point for that time... but the most important thing was to remain really aware of the place, the experience day to day of 'being there'.