Wales Arts Review’s Artist in Residence for April is Leah Crossley:
Leah Crossley: Cardiff-based, visual artist. Graduated from Cardiff School of Arts & Design, Howard Gardens in 2012.
“… to observe, encounter, capture, collect and transform…”
I am photographic-artist, with no formal training in photography. My projects emanate from a personal approach to camera-art, digital image-making and collage that has been evolving since 2010. I employ an experimental approach to photographic processes; layering is an integral component to my visual interpretations and interventions, eg. through collage, multiple-exposures, blurring, transposing, embedding text and image into pre-existing publications. I use a mixture of Digital, Analogue and Photoshop techniques and employ a whole host of optical surfaces and filters to use as camera lenses, eg. thin slices of lemon, light bulbs, crystals, pre-existing negative slides and handmade filters – eg. plastic boxes filled with honey, molasses, crude and refined oils – and my collections of old, new and toy cameras. Each project I undertake demands a visual vocabulary specific to its own poetics, creative intentions and objectives. Every project accumulates its own significant tools, techniques, texts, audios, objects and camera lenses. Collecting is integral to how I create images and has become an artistic discipline in itself. My collections can later be transformed into digital layers and/or provoke new ways of framing an image or installation.
To date, performance has been an important catalyst through which I have explored my creative practice. I have created images and projects that migrate between live performance, documentary and visual practice. These enquiries have allowed me to collaborate with a wide range of artists, performers and companies. I am proud to be associated with the performative map in Wales, and have been fortunate to work and collaborate with some of Wales’ most exciting and innovative performers, performance-makers and theatre producers (National Theatre Wales, Jo Fong, Eddie Ladd, Deborah Light, Marega Palser, Taikabox, Music Theatre Wales, Likely Story, Earthfall). Beyond Wales, I have worked with Punchdrunk (London), The Republic of the Imagination (Serbia), Elan and Director, Firenza Guidi, on QuiXote – the XXII International Performance School in Fucecchio (Italy), and collaborated with theatre director and radical performer, Gabriella Sacco, to create/produce the Secret Girl suite.
I endeavour to establish and disseminate experimental creative-projects in abundance, with meaningful and magical outcomes.
My work has been exhibited in Cardiff, London, Amsterdam, Montpelier and Turin. I produce theatrical and documentary artworks of performance processes, research and outcomes, and have generated work for exhibitions (prints and canvases), digital stories, photo-blogs, small paginations, postcards, bookmark design, calendar (2015), installations and large-scale projections.
Olivia and I by Leah Crossley
My project for Wales Arts Review will draw upon my love of collage and photography. I will set about visualising the journals that I have been keeping during pregnancy, birth, and the first year of my daughter’s life.
I have always kept a diary ever since I was a child; as a teenager, these became places of expression via collage. Fast forward a few years to July 2014 when I was invited to undertake a year-long residency with National Theatre Wales in Cardiff. Having previously passed-off my doodles and art journals as something that was simply personal scribblings and not ‘professional enough’, I subsequently introduced them to my creative practice as a valid and powerful tool of expression, as Artworks in their own right, as well as important, creative documentaries. Now, every project I undertake generates its own art journal, housing within it the collaborative languages specific to the project at hand, and incorporating text, images and mixed-media combinations. The journal is an important part of my creative process but rarely exposed to a wider audience/readership.
The residency with Wales Arts Review will provide time and space through which to disclose personal artistic developments in relation to myself as an artist, via deeper exploration into the journalling process and its value as an artistic tool of discovery and expression. It will also contribute to the development of a self-directed Artist Residency in Motherhood as a vehicle for extending and developing my focus, and to establish a framework within which I can explore ways of working as a new Mother and creating work about Motherhood.
(draft 1) Extracts from my Artist Residency in Motherhood Plan
Part One – Where are you now?
1. Describe where you are currently with your creative work. How much time are you able to work, where do you work, how do you feel about it, what are you working on? How has parenthood affected (or not) your working practice?
During pregnancy and following the birth of my first child in March 2016, I have written journals, taken photographs, made short films and audios, learnt about mindfulness, done a lot of walking, a bit of knitting and made jewellery! I have meditated greatly on who I was, who I am – and could be – as a woman, mother, daughter, friend and artist. On 13th February 2017 my daughter started attending nursery, affording me 2.5 days per week to concentrate on my creative work. Predominantly, I have felt lost without her and have cooked and compiled many lists – to-do lists, goals, ideas – when I have been without her, I realise just how much she is a part of this new phase of my creativity and creative being.
Following five years of collaborating with a wide range of wonderful artists, performance-makers and companies in Wales and beyond – things are getting a little more personal.
Currently, without a shadow of a doubt – there is a lot of uncertainty. Currently, I work in my head, in a notebook, at home or in a coffee shop, on my laptop. I have rented out a studio with Meanwhile Creatives, Cardiff that I cannot get into because it is full of boxes.
I hope that all this is set to change.
I am delighted to be the Wales Art Review Artist-in-Residence for April. This is my first public, creative playfulness and project since my daughter, Olivia-Rose Hope, was born; it kick-starts a six-month, self-directed Artist Residency in Motherhood.
Becoming a mother has intensified and inspired my own personal creative (and critical) dialogue, even when it has had no paper to doodle upon. In that Motherhood has instigated a clearer understanding of my personal values, it is also stimulating questions about what I value within my creative practice. It is only now, just over a year since my daughter was born, that I feel ready and able to give the time needed to address the questions in my head and realise the ideas that I have been inwardly generating.