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Images: Marisa Molin, King Island, 2015.

Case study: Marisa Molin - Tasmanian Residency program

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Marisa Molin is a Tasmanian Contemporary Jeweller and the Director of Sawtooth ARI Gallery in Launceston. She has been the recipient of a number of residencies both within Tasmania and internationally and has just completed an Arts Tasmania residency at the Currie Harbour Cultural Centre on King Island.

What were you doing whilst on your residency at King Island?

I walk shorelines and edges of islands. I walk where the water meets land.

I walk. I document. I walk some more and I collect fragments that have been placed there by the wind, tide or wave. I take these lost and broken fragments back into my studio and I translate this unpredictable organic debris into wearable objects.

My residency on King Island allowed me one month of isolation to beachcomb and map the coastline to create a body of work entitled Fragments of King. It is a continuation of Fragments of Flinders, which was a similar process of translating found fragments into wearable objects from a previous residency I did on Flinders Island in 2013.

What role do residencies have in your overall practice?

Residencies fuel the inspiration in my practice. I have always responded to the Tasmanian landscape since moving here from Brisbane in 2004, but it wasn’t until my residency on Flinders Island where it all came together and a shift in the collections of my work became more specific to site. I wanted to create a collective conversation of an area, rather than focus on individual textures.

I enjoy responding to islands as the west coast often differs to the east, as does the north to the south. The landscape itself changes and the organic debris which gets washed up on the beach also differs.

What were some of the unforseen situations or challenges you encountered working on the island?

Weather is always a challenge but also it drives the locations I choose go too. I would get into a routine of checking tides, wind, sun and rainfall in the morning and then choose which direction of the island to explore and which beach I would start walking from.

After a storm, the ocean would always provide more plentiful treasures for me to comb through. Sometimes facing the winds of the ‘roaring 40s’ can be more exciting than focusing on where it may be calm. I tried not to plan too much or expect what I may find but respond to the elements daily - and for that, you need time.

I’ve noted on your Facebook posts a few crayfish! Aside from great crayfish, what did you gain from working with the local artists and experiencing local culture?

Being the resident artist in a cultural centre is like opening the side door to the community. It doesn’t take long for the locals to warm to having a visitor to share stories, food and their art practices.

I find hosting workshops when I arrive as an artist-in-residence, to be an informal way of meeting people. After only three days of workshops I realised I had met a good portion of the community and I no longer felt like a stranger. I was invited to drawing field trips, bonfires, beachcombing hot spots (and was fortunate to be given a few crayfish as that just seems to be the local way).

It is very special to be welcomed by the community as they are so much a part of the experience of residencies.

You are about to travel overseas to undertake a residency in Norway. What are you are intending to do?

I have been awarded a two month residency at the Kunstnarhuset Messen in Norway in June and July 2015. I will be following the same processes as I have done here in Tasmania, focusing on walking some of the shorelines and edges of Norway’s west coast. The residency is situated in a fjord as well as being opposite Folgefonna glacier. I was in Norway last year and I hiked along where the rock met the glacier and started a series called Fragments of Folgefonna. The start of this series was recently exhibited in the CAT members’ show. This area is somewhere I want to continue to research and develop as that meeting point between ice and rock is an interesting comparison to how I respond to Tasmania’s islands.

I know that you have undertaken a number of residencies both here and overseas. In retrospect, what do you think you are you seeking through your residencies and what do you think you have gained from the experiences?

I usually go in thinking I will respond to something and I love being surprised by what I discover and how the work evolves. The experiences balance my studio practice. Without regular dedication to focus full-time on my practice and reset the ideas, I often feel unmotivated to experiment. Residencies are my ideal way of getting a fresh perspective for my practice

Finally any tips for people intending to apply for the Tasmanian Residencies program?

Don’t put any pressure or expectation to finish work during the residency, just be present in the location and experiment.

Marisa received support for the King Island residency from Arts Tasmania’s Tasmanian Residency program.

Images: Marisa Molin, King Island, 2015.