The first International Artists Workshop was held in Oman by the Omani Fine Art Society and the British Council, and aimed to create dialogue and exchange between Omani and international artists.
Below are two different extracts from artist’s statements describing their experience at Oman and how it effected their art practice:
“At the heart of my sculptural work is the symbiotic relationship between nature and human agency; of seduction and control; of minimalist precision. It is a practice that considers the tenuous interrelationship of both found and crafted objects, beautiful and threatening.
As an artist currently engaged in the project of change, the Triangle Workshop came at a critical point in my practice. I began by taking a series of photographs that refer to specific architectural features and geometric patterns from buildings in and around Muscat. Objects and images in my work find form by layering registers of information. Inspiration from these images led to the creation of small sculptural objects made in direct collaboration with Omani artists.
During the workshop, I became fascinated with the uncanny desert fair ground on the outskirts of Muscat and the many doors of Oman. There are no two alike; beautifully coloured and ornate, each door renders its house unique and hints at the story of the people who are living behind it; “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” - Aldous Huxley.
Later in the workshop, I began working with the materials I collected during the first week. Traditional, mass-produced commodities from the local ‘Friday Market’ were sewn together to form one sculpture. Emerging from the interaction of individual elements was a spatial totality that generated a location-specific form. My work began to shift from the cultural reference to the artefact, from the metaphorical to the abstract, exposing narratives in which ideas and motifs overlapped.
With such a diverse community of artists, we created a platform for communication and experimentation. The Triangle Network is a fantastic opportunity set within a supportive programme that encourages artists to exchange and develop their work in order to bring ideas to fruition. As a group, we were able to facilitate intercultural exchanges whilst demonstrating a commitment to materials and process.
Installing work and designing space are essential to the way in which the audience encounters my work; emotionally and architecturally. Over the next few months, I will use the artworks made in Muscat as a platform, from structural objects to an image of a desolate fairground, there will be a quiet purpose in every aspect of my future work.”
“It is Sunday, a grey Sunday in London. I am in my studio unpacking the box of paints I brought back from Oman. As I place each tube on the palette I am overcome by an extreme pang of sadness, sad that our time together in Muscat is over and how I wish we were all back in the studio there.
I feel that the weight, experience and values of this residency are yet to really sink in. Of course there was the immediate enjoyment and interaction of being there and working but I feel day by day the memories and feelings are slowly sinking in, and an experience of this level will filter into my work over the next year and more.
I am extremely grateful and privileged to all people who allowed for this to all be possible. It is very easy as an artist to lock oneself away in an isolated studio (which does have its benefits to a degree) but I feel getting out, working together and engaging as a group invaluable. The dialogue, connections and friends made on this trip will stay with me forever.
I have rarely made collaborative work and to begin with I think we all may have a been a little uncertain as to how we would but it happened so naturally and organically with one work leading to the next that I feel the final show to be a group show in the truest sense. From working with Richard, Jehad and Abdelrahim to build a large assemblage sculpture from old metal tubing, to working with Fay’s collaged rocks arranged on golden fabric and treating these as a still life for my own work.
I also found it interesting seeing everybody’s very different approach to making work and the thought process behind. Especially as a lot of the work was based on our immediate surrounds, the studio and city and how many of us where drawn to similar imagery and sounds but all executed completely differently.
It was not only the time in the studio working as a group but also eating together, trips in the ‘art bus’ and night swimming, learning about different cultures and spending a lot of time crying with laughter.”