Deptford Residency Interview (part 1)
Residency Interview – July 2013 by Emily Mahon
The Setting has changed quite a bit in Occupy My Time gallery this month. July and August sees artist Andy Wicks take up residency in the space with an investigation into the atmosphere and visuals surrounding Deptford and the river.
The gallery which now appears transformed into a ‘pad’ featuring a cool white lounger sofa and a super selection of books and maps is an exciting change for the summer, and will be fully exposed to the public from the gallery’s large front window, which Andy has already started to scrawl over: Andy’s investigation is made primarily by foot, embracing a natural and very first handed experience of his artistic material. He is jotting on the glass the areas he is covering by foot each day along with places of interest, tidal times, wind speed and wind direction.
I ask him;
E: Will this become part of your final piece? Its actually very interesting data to have plastered so big.
A: I knew I’d be using the gallery primarily as a research space, at least to begin with, so I decided to utilise the large window as a visual journal of my travels. Even if there was nothing specifically being made in the gallery, there was this evolving data stream, a sign of life from within and a hint at my investigation. I’ve yet to decide whether it’ll remain for the exhibition, I imagine I’ll see how it looks once the show is installed.
E: Do you have a plan for your residency, what mediums can we expect to see you work in?
A: I have a loose plan but have purposely tried not to tie myself down too much, instead letting the experience of being in and around the gallery to direct me. Deptford as an area really fascinates me and contains many of my interests and concerns surrounding history, urban planning, the maritime. So right now I’m doing a lot of walking and reading to absorb as much as I can.
Leading into the residency I’ve been feeling rather restricted by my painting practice which has been my predominant medium since graduating, so I decided that whatever happens, I’d leave my paints behind. I really want the concept to drive the work that I make here, whether it be: Sculpture, photography, video, installation – it could be all of them.
E: Do you feel pressured by a residency when starting to make work, the fact you have a set period of time and a public awareness of your development within the space?
A: Not at all, I think it should be an enjoyable time. The only other residency I’ve done was for 12 months so its definitely different having to settle in a space and deliver an exhibition in less than 2 months, but it’s a good sort of pressure. I see the residency as a chance to get out of my regular routine and delve into a different geographic and mental space.
E: Why a residency in Deptford? Have you had a previous interest in the area?
A: I was invited to do the residency here I suppose because I have always had a fascination with the Thames that comes through in my work. I don’t know Deptford that well yet, but it’s a place that is really rich in History and offers great exposure to the Thames. What is interesting is that I’m from Bromley, in the suburbs of South London and the river Ravensbourne that starts its journey in Caesar’s Well in Keston which is a mile or so from where I was born and grew up as a kid; Actually runs through an area I know very well towards Lewisham, and Deptford right into the Creek. So I feel I’ve got a direct connection to this spot.
E: Is the river’s journey something you’re interested in then?
A: Yes, I suppose I’m here looking for beginnings and ways into the area which could form the basis of my investigation. I definitely find movement and navigation of interest; I walk a lot which started I suppose as a sort of quiet rebellion against the cost of transport and congestion which the Olympics were rumoured to cause where I live in East London. I walk to travel as well as for pleasure and can easily walk 10 miles a day without really questioning it.
E: One of your readings has been ‘Wanderlust: A History of Walking’?
A: It’s really fascinating to see how historically walking has played such a big part in the development of creative ideas. Rebecca Solnit, the author describes how some of our most influential writers and philosophers walked as a way of thinking which has resulted in the creation of some of their brightest thoughts. There is a theory that the speed of thought it about 3 – 4mph equivalent to walking pace, so walking is a good space for thinking, whereas say speeding through a landscape by train with scenery flying past requires taking in too much information and doesn’t help the mind focus.
E: Its very early days in your residency, but what has interested you so far?
A: I went on a low tide walk along Deptford Creek and the amount of stuff that gets chucked in the river is crazy, it was fascinating to walk along the muddy riverbed which 6 hours later would be covered by 6 or 7 metres of water. What was really interesting, was that they did a fish count in the creek before and after cleaning which saw the removal of 300 shopping trolleys that had been dumped there. What they discover was that the number of fish actually halved with the removal of the shopping trolleys. The trolleys were acting as a substitute for reedbeds which guard the small fish from the larger predators which came in with the tide. Its amazing how nature can adapt and actually thrive in urban settings.
*Urban reedbeds, eg. Deptford Shopping trolleys!
Andy’s foreshore finds