Emerge 2023 - Part 2


Abbie updates us on her experience of Spring Fling 2023 in the second of her blog posts documenting the Emerge Bursary and Mentoring program. 

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Image by Abbie La Rooy
Image by Abbie La Rooy

With Spring Fling on the horizon, my attention turned to preparing for the open studios event. I  was grateful to be offered a room in Gracefield Arts Centre; as Lauren Taylor (Grays Ceramics) would be exhibiting in the workshop: Clay Works Studios. Along with the Diane Arbus exhibition, I exhibited alongside fellow artist Marly Merle (2023 CREATE bursary recipient).  

My mentoring with Andy Priestman was put on hold to give me time to process everything we had covered so far and allow us both time to focus on Spring Fling. As a seasoned Spring Flinger,  Linda Mallet would be helping me prepare for the exhibition. We met at Gracefield to familiarise ourselves with the space, taking measurements, choosing plinths, and working out how we could make the space exhibition ready. With her experience, Linda was indispensable during this process.


[image: long table plinths to display candlesticks]

I built two long table plinths to display the candlesticks. Presenting them in linear groups allowed the candlesticks to interact, leaning in or away from each other, animating the objects. It felt important to allow people to move through the works – Linda did point out the potential domino effect if the plinths were knocked, we quickly found a solution with some sticky dots on the underside of each candlestick… crisis averted.  


[image: Terra Sigillata Candlesticks]


We arranged and rearranged the room, moving the plinths until we found a layout that would allow people to move easily through the space, but also utilise the light flooding in through the windows on two sides of the room. The light was particularly important on the terracotta objects; highlighting the subtle sheen of the surfaces, emphasising the angles and form.  


[image: Terra Sigillata forms with natural light]

These terracotta pieces are my most recent work. They capture the qualities of clay when it is in the leather-hard state. The clay is slightly dry, no longer soft and sticky, but contains enough moisture to remain pliable and maintain tension. I applied processes from textile manufacture, e.g. creating darts and seams to the clay. This material quality, along with the terra sigillata surface finish I developed for the candlesticks led me to explore these leathered objects. Spring Fling was the first time exhibiting this work so I was excited to see the response and receive feedback.  


[image: Darted Bowl, terracotta, Dumfries terra sigillata]

With Linda’s guidance, we made a plan for the installation of Spring Fling. Over the next few days, I prepared the room with the help of Alice and Kevin at Gracefield. Spring Fling opened on Friday evening and Marly and I welcomed our first visitors and the response was positive. Over the weekend we welcomed a steady stream of people. The conversations surrounding the work were encouraging and sales remained steady throughout the weekend… also encouraging!


[image: Tucked Vase, terracotta, Dumfries terra sigillata]

Spring Fling was a great experience, I came away from the weekend feeling inspired by the response and discussions surrounding my work. Along with the feedback on my work, Spring  Fling was a fantastic opportunity to connect with creatives in the region. At times, working in a rural setting can feel isolated, however, the event was a great way to meet people from across Dumfries and Galloway, and beyond. Looking forward, I am excited to develop this body of work further and continue my mentoring through the summer.


[image: Spring Fling Exhibition]

Thank you to Linda Mallet and the team at Gracefield for making Spring Fling possible.