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Mothership Residency  - Dorset 2016

In March I was lucky enough to spend 10 days in Dorset participating in the Mothership Residency intiated by artist Anna Best 

My time at the Mothership coincided with a springtime explosion of primroses, wild garlic and slowly, but insistently, appearing bluebells - punctuated by stars - a full moon - Storm Katie - mud - wood smoke and an abundance of winter salad from the poly-tunnel. A rumbling energy, sounded in the studio’s creaking roof, felt in the morning chill of the outside shower, sensed in the enveloping night time darkness and echoed in the bounding affection of Anna’s dog, (the inimitable Curly Wurly).

A seasonal drama that I watched through the picture windows of the studio while inside a more tenuous process of cutting, sorting and assembling gradually found its daily rhythm of doing.  A routine framed by the architecture of the building, within which, viewed from the outside, I resembled perhaps a figure in a Hooper painting, caught in the mise en scene of the studio. I had come to Copse Barn to spend time with my work and that’s what I did, living and making in the same space. Engineering a kind of creative detox, working in the studio and walking in the woods to dissipate the underlying anxiety unleashed by withdrawal from timetables, forms, committees and the exhausting but perversely reassuring flow of endless emails. Recalibrating my brain to allow for spontaneity, tangential thought, staring into space and messing about, a process supported by the generous lack of expectations attached to the residency. 

It has recently been proposed that the impact of human activities upon the planet has so significantly altered its ecosystems as to occasion a new geological era - the Anthropocene; collapsing the longstanding dualisms such as human and non human, nature and culture. Like many artists, theorists and commentators recently I have been influenced by this geological ‘turn’ and related concepts of vibrant materiality, geo trauma, assemblage, dynamic earth processes, the Capitalocene and Chthulhocene etc. Not only was I ‘in’ nature but it was also my subject - working title - Studio Geo or Modern Nature. Nature represented, examined, sampled, harnessed, explored, managed and marvelled over. Ladybird books, John Hinde postcards, National Geographic, Shell Guides, ancient rock drawings, JG Ballard’s Crystal world, satellite imagery, pipe lines, open cast mines - collected on e bay, in bookshops and remotely - traced and collaged together.

Choosing to forgo the possibilities of plein air or field work, Richard Long’s 1975 Cerne Abbas Walk was undertaken a few miles away, while the lovers Nash and Agar used objects found on the beaches of nearby Purbeck to create the assemblages that led them to coin the phrase seaside surrealism. Abandoning community engagement, research in local archives, dialogue with enthusiasts and experts the studio instead became my focus, a space in which to address both nature as representation and the representation of nature.  Combining aerial and subterranean, global and local, human and non-human pictographically to achieve a form of imaginary travel unhindered by the logistical ecological and ethical challenges of actual journeying.

That said, as Bryan Doherty observes in his 2007 article Studio and Cube, ‘every studio has to have some traffic with the outside’. Dorset is the Jurassic coast and Geology is big business so the cliffs of blue lye between Eype and Lyme were the destination for several outings.  While families, dog walkers, keen amateurs and fully kitted out Scandinavian geography students hunted for the fossils with which this coast is famously associated, it was the slithering, slipping liquid clay, from which they are washed that drew me. At Lyme a former landfill site slides muddily down to the sea from the cliff top above, churning up and out bedsteads, washing machines, wheel hubs, man made components of the future fossil record. Not landscape but matter, abstracted, malleable, and energetic. For Anna a bucketful transferred back to the studio and encountered out of context was reminiscent of one of Smithson’s mirror displacements: ‘…the sediments, displaced from its original site, blur distinctions between outdoors and indoors. A thought echoed perhaps in the impulse to assemble flints from the stream outside of the window on a bed of silk.

The ten days I spent in Dorset were both peculiarly intense and fleetingly slight. Making work, as I should know by now, distorts and consumes time. Packing everything up after ten days and loading the car for my return to London was hard. Somewhat like dis-assembling a theatre set or museum exhibit in which the artist stages an encounter, without an audience, between herself, the studio as site and nature in order to try to understand something about all three.

Practicing the Anthropocene (workshop)Thursday 14th July 2016 11:00 am Pig Rock Bothy, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh

As part of a series of events to accompany the exhibition Neo Neo // Extreme Past at the National Galleries of Scotland, curated by ATLAS Arts. GeoStudio have been invited to lead a day of discussion exploring the relationships between material cultures, arts practice and the Anthropocene.
Practicing the Anthropcene

It has recently been suggested that the impact of human activities upon the planet – people are for example responsible for moving about ten times as much rock and earth as tectonic plates, volcanoes and landslides – has significantly altered its ecosystems, occasioning a new geological era – the Anthropocene; a proposition that challenges such longstanding dualisms as human and non-human, nature and culture.

GeoStudio is a group of staff and post-graduate researchers, theorists and practitioners, within the Department of Arts at Northumbria University. The interests of members include the philosophy, politics and aesthetics of geo-materiality, The Geologic/Material Turn in Contemporary Culture, Post Human Nature, the legacies of Land Art, cross overs between art and physical geography, the studio/field as critical axis, matter, subjectivity and desire.

Through discussion, short readings and practical activities this workshop, led by members of the group, will consider some of the implications of this for critically engaged contemporary arts practices and our aesthetic, ethical and imaginative engagement with the phenomenal world.

To book: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/practicing-the-anthropocene-tickets-26115610494

Making geological models as part of the event
Making geological models as part of the event

Art and Geography – Aesthetics and practices of spatial knowledges 11-13 Feb 2013 Lyon (France)

I will be giving a paper and presenting works from That Oceanic Feeling at this Conference 


The contemporary art world has gravitated toward notions of space and place with terms such as “in situ”, “outdoor” and “alternative space” becoming ubiquitous in its terminology. Further examples of art-geography hybridization include use of geolocation, georeferencing, fieldwork methodologies, and other geographical input in the creative process and in the appearance or significance of resulting works. Consequently, art critics and scholars increasingly view issues pertaining to public space, environment, and virtual space as prime topics of concern. Yet if art practice is engaged with a “spatial turn” then geography too is adopting and adapting art practice to the geographical imagination. Indeed, maps may be viewed as artworks; map-making as a creative process; and fieldwork methodologies as essentially artistic practices. A further aspect of the art-geography nexus concerns art’s engagement with contemporary spatial development planning and practice. From the branding of artist districts to festivalisation and local policies based on cultivating, promoting and clustering “creative industries”, artists are now seen as key players in the urban development game. This poses a new set of opportunities and challenges for artists to engage with revitalization processes, and also opens up new areas for critical research.

With such developments in how space and place are experienced in contemporary art, and how art is conceptualised and utilised in geography and allied disciplines, we believe now is a good time to take stock and cast a critical eye over the various art and geography interrelationships. Consequently, this conference brings together artists and geographers, as well as representation from throughout and beyond the academy, for discussion, exchange, and mutual learning. 



That Oceanic Feeling - publication

A new 62 page publication (colour and b/w illustrations) with essays by Artist, Rona Lee, Art Historian, Andrew Patrizio and Geographer, Kathryn Yusoff, published John Hansard Gallery 2012

Price £8.95. Available to purchase from: 


One Day Symposium

November 13th 2012 - This one-day cross-disciplinary public event explored the wider themes and connections surrounding the exhibition Rona Lee: That Oceanic Feeling. The symposium features contributors spanning a range of fields: contemporary art history, psychoanalysis, philosophy, aesthetics, geography, environmental ethics and politics.  

Speakers included artist Rona Lee, Wolverhampton University; Ryan Bishop, Winchester School of Art;Rina Ayra, Wolverhampton University; Emily Brady, University of Edinburgh; Kathryn Yusoff, University of Lancaster; and Christine Battersby,University of Warwick, along with a distinguished closing panel of scientists and arts professionals.


Private View - That Oceanic Feeling - September 1st 2012

'One More Time' - perception, affect and the elasticity of time in works of art. Thursday 20th – Saturday 22nd. October 2011 (Symposium Friday 21st)

'One More Time' - perception, affect and the elasticity of time in works of art.

An exhibition and symposium on Marking Time in Art. Thursday 20th - Saturday 22nd. October 2011 (Symposium Friday 21st)
Libeskind Graduate Centre and Old Boilerhouse, North Campus, London Metropolitan University, 166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB

Curator - Anne Robinson

Artists - Steve Farrer, Rachel Gomme, David Howells, Rona Lee, Leibniz, Laura Malacart, Paul St George, William Raban, Claire Zakiewicz .

This exciting project brings together artists from a diverse range of contemporary practices, including sculture, performance, photography and film, working with ideas of marking and spatializing time.

Please note that pre-registration is essential for the one-day symposium on Friday 21st. £12 & (£7 for London met staff & students).
Admission to all other elements of the exhibition free.

Supported by the Practice as Research Centre, JCAMD & FSSH.

To book a place, please go to:
ONE MORE TIME BOOKING <http://eshop.londonmet.ac.uk/browse/department.asp?compid=1&modid=1&deptid=6>
Further queries please contact Anna Masing: asm087@my.londonmet.ac.uk

See attached flyer & website at: http://onemoretimeart.wordpress.com <http://onemoretimeart.wordpress.com/>

Mapping - Howard Gardens Gallery 12th Nov - 18th Dec 2009

A series of works in progress exhibited as part of a group show on Mapping at Howard Gardens Gallery, University of Wales Institute.

Each marks an attempt to engage with processes of representing the undersea world while providing a counterpoint to the virtual and optical emphasis of scientific methods. Seeking ways of 'knowing', centred upon the imagination, desire, the body and touch, capable of resisting the separation of subject and object demanded by the use of observation as a way of encountering the world.

The Proverbial Bit of String ..... Nov 24th 2009, Howard Gardens Gallery, Cardiff

The Proverbial Piece of String - Gallery Talk - Dr Tim Le Bas (NOCS) and Rona Lee discuss their current project Truthing Gap exploring methods of visualising and modelling the emergent landscape of the deep sea bed. Chaired by Dr Clive Cazeaux

Calenture - a leap in to the void

I have received a catalogue from an Australian artist friend, Jo Darbyshire, whose work shares my pre-occupation with undersea worlds - she describes her floating worlds series as concerned with the body in the landscape, sensuality, immersion and imagination

" Although abstract in nature, my paintings reference bodily experience 'moving over' a landscape, …'flying' or 'floating' over mountains or underwater reefs … a bodily 'letting go'; Pleasure."

Reading two downloadable essays written about her work I am struck by Gall Jones's references in The Erotics of Immersion - Responses to Floating Life to Calenture, a kind of fever whereby sailors would imagine the sea to be rolling fields and throw themselves ecstatically into it (a misrecognition she understands in terms of sensual desire). So much so that I have taken the term as the title of a new piece of work, produced as part of Land Use Poetics a group workshop and show in which I have just taken part at The Museum of Sketches, Lund, Sweden, in which I jumped 'blind' from a diving board, in a kind of homage to Yves Klein's Leap into the void

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