Amanda Bee, 30th May – 11th June 2021

My proposal for my residency at Brison Veor was to look at the contrasts within this amazing landscape. I was initially a little overwhelmed by the scale of the Cape having been nowhere over the last year and a half. It seemed slightly surreal to be here.

I focused on Priest Cove as it didn’t feel quite as intimidating as the bigger far-reaching views. I spent several days drawing, sketching, and painting outside whilst also filming and photographing the area. By day two I was fully immersed in the experience and felt totally relaxed and completely inspired. By the end of the first week, I felt ready to work inside in the top studio, moving my sketches on into more complete paintings. Time seemed to slow as I fell into a routine of walking, exploring, drawing, evaluating and then painting. I realized quite quickly that to stay focused on my initial idea I had to be strict with myself! I chose just two contrasts – high and low which incorporated the ideas of loud and quiet. I found keeping a written diary of each day helpful in bringing me back to my focus and in making a rough plan for the day.

By the second week I was venturing out further along the coast path, but I kept the Cape as the focal point. If anything, I found myself more energized. The continuous presence of the sea was utterly breath-taking. A constant moving, noisy companion demanding attention whilst also being a soothing presence throughout.

After the first assault on my depleted senses, I was totally immersed in the landscape. Inspiration everywhere I looked. I learned to trust my own instinct and most importantly my working processes. I trusted that if I looked, listened, explored, and filled my sketchbook then the paintings would follow. I stuck to my usual materials of acrylic, collage, water-soluble pencils and oil pastels but each day gave myself a different challenge. One day work in black and white, another line drawing only, another focus on colour. This kept the experience challenging but fun and stopped me from over-thinking and tightening up.

I’m still processing the experience and feel my key achievement was giving myself this time to be in one place and make art. To wake up each day and go with my instinct on what I needed or wanted to do. I have a couple of full sketchbooks, an overloaded camera, and several finished and part finished pieces of work. A key moment came from understanding that creativity flows inconsistently. It is not a constant straight line and giving in to that flow is very liberating. Not panicking if you have a slow day. Looking, listening, watching, thinking, experiencing is sometimes all you need to do. I realized this it is a big part of my practice. Storing memories of a place, re-ignited through photographs and films. I have enough sketchbook imagery and memories of this special time to keep me busy for many months to come.