Hi Readers! Welcome to our very first instalment of the 'Feetured!' blog series, where we get to know more about the brilliant creatives and artists working in the North West of England.
We aim to build a safe and engaging networking space that will allow creatives across different art forms to find one another and spotlight the incredible talent right here in the North West!
The blogs will allow our 'Feetured' guests the chance to talk in more detail about their work or ongoing projects, and we hope our readers will not only keep up with the series but support these fantastic artists going forward!
Hi all! My name is Núria, and I couldn't be happier to be the first visual artist to be "Feetured" by Three Left Feet. I'll use this blog space to share my experience co-running The GAP studio collective and give you a behind-the-scenes of my art practice and upcoming exhibition.
Like other creatives here at Three Left Feet, I graduated from LICA in summer 2020. As soon as I finished uni, I teamed up with two other artist and very close friends from my degree to start The GAP studio, a studio space and artist collective based in Morecambe. The GAP has been open at Arndale Centre since August 2020 with the support of Venus and Cupid Arts Trust.
So, what do we do as an artist collective? One side of GAP has to do with our individual art practices growing in the same space. Kasia specializes in drawing, Georgina works in abstract painting, and I explore installation and digital media. At the studio, we are surrounded by each other's work as we create, which means opportunities to share ideas, books and opinions that fuel each other's creativity. The GAP Studio provides this "studio environment" that makes us feel accompanied in the process of creating, bringing key motivation to keep making work. Starting a career in the arts (and during a pandemic) is an uncertain and rocky journey, so we decided to do it together and join forces to create our own opportunities.
The other side of GAP is where we collaborate to run an arts curation and community engagement programme. This side means exhibitions, workshops, digital spaces, outdoor art displays and networking events for creatives. We want to explore our shared aims of platforming art, celebrating place, and fostering connections amongst artists with these events. Of course, it has been challenging to carry out these aims during a pandemic! Although GAP has only been able to open its doors virtually, we have found ways to run our programme. We have reshaped our plans into online and window/outdoor displays (I'm sure these are formats many other creatives are familiar with after this year!).
We often get asked why we chose to base ourselves in Morecambe to pursue a career in contemporary art. For some reason, all you hear is that London and Manchester are the places to be if you want to become an artist. At the GAP studio, we want to challenge this trend because we believe the future of contemporary art is local. After this year's transformation of the art world into online formats, it seems more evident than ever that contemporary art is not attached to a specific location. It can bring value to the public and creative networks of local places like Morecambe and Lancaster.
On top of that, Morecambe is full of reasons that make it the perfect platform to start our careers as recent Fine Art grads. An important one is that it's affordable! Being able to rent a studio space is a big luxury as an artist, and with the support of Venus and Cupid Arts Trust, this is something we get to have in Morecambe. Another big reason is our support from the local network of creatives like Venus and Cupid, Deco Publique, Good Things Collective, White Elephant Gallery, Morecambe Artist Colony, More Music… They have warmly welcomed us into the community offering their help and mentoring. We are also here because Morecambe Bay is a beautiful place to make art! With projects like Eden on the horizon, there is this feeling that Morecambe has unexplored potential; artists and creatives are being attracted to tap into that. We're excited about the future of where we work and want to be a part of its growth!
We started GAP because we believe artists collectives are the future of the art world. There is a lack of support systems for artists, especially for young emerging creatives. After graduation, it is easy to feel disconnected and disoriented about what path to take due to the lack of opportunities and support. An artist collective can be a point to anchor yourself. It can provide a sense of community, collaboration opportunities and experience of curation and programming.
For me, having a studio routine with GAP has been essential to continue developing my art practice after graduation. I work in Bio Art and Site-specific research that I display in multimedia installations. What I mean by Bio Art is that I directly study biological organisms in my artwork through an interdisciplinary combination of artistic and scientific practices, which I have developed thanks to the support of experts from scientific fields. My studio space is a strange combination of objects like Petri dishes, microscopes, sculptural materials and projectors. I use this studio-lab combination to grow and research living organisms like slime mould (2019), silk moths (2020) and the non-humans of Morecambe Bay's mudflats (2021). I think about it as a "collaboration" between myself and the organisms. This collaborative approach makes me relinquish control from the project to allow for the fragility and unpredictability of working with living media.
I follow this lengthy process of observation, documentation and interaction with the biological organism with building an installation that reflects on what I discovered. The installations typically combine video projection, sound, performance and sculptural objects creating an immersive space under constant change. In a way, the installations are a living environment that is only complete when the viewer walks into the space, offering each individual a different experience.
I go through the trouble of working with living biology because I am interested in noticing the entanglements between humans and non-humans. I believe it can help us find paths of recovery in the environmental ruins we are occupying. My work uses my personal encounter with the living as an invitation to bring more-than-human scales and temporalities into our thinking. I'm interested in how we can access these unexplored paths by overlapping voices from different disciplines.
Currently, I'm so excited to be back at working with Lancaster University through a commission I'm doing with Future Places Centre (FPC). This pioneering new research hub investigates how we can use computing and data to adapt the places we live for healthier and more sustainable living. FPC has invited art voices into their research through series of "Cartographic Interventions" to explore the future of Morecambe Bay through data and maps. My "Cartographic Intervention" imagines the non-human cartographies of lugworms through a multimedia installation that emerged from the data collected during 20 walks on Morecambe Bay's intertidal mudflats.
This project brings together my interests in biology and place. I approach the tidal spaces of Morecambe Bay as a living entity of its own that I'm collaborating with. Just a few steps from my studio, the Bay's mudflats are the perfect example of the impermanence of place. The mudflats blur the line between land and sea, challenging our human map making practices. They are also vibrant with life, with lugworms constantly shaping the ground with sand castings. Walking can be a tool for map-making that engages with the movement of place. During the walks, I use data collection methods like GPS tracking to record each experience. I aim to document my encounter with the topographies of lugworms to invite other living beings into our maps.
The data collected during this on-site research will come together in an installation at White Elephant Gallery, a local art gallery also a few steps from the shore of Morecambe Bay. It will be part of a group exhibition with the other two GAP artists, Georgina Harris and Kasia Tatys. The show will open in May, and it will focus on the exploration of maps and perception through three distinct art practices of painting, drawing and installation. After many months of planning and rescheduling due to covid restrictions, it's such a blessing to be able to exhibit alongside my close friends and artists I admire!
That's all I have for now, but you can find out more about GAP and my work on our website and follow us on social media @the.gap.studio & @art_nur.rovia for updates on the exhibition!