02 Mar 2021

In focus: Rachel Duckhouse is the first artist resident of WORLDING

Unframe London

In focus: Rachel Duckhouse is the first artist resident of WORLDING

We announce Rachel Duckhouse as the new resident artist of Worlding Project as well as exploring some of her past artist residencies

We are thrilled to announce Rachel Duckhouse as the new resident artist of WORLDING artist residency. Duckhouse is the first invited artist in remote residence at WORLDING project space in Elephant & Castle, London. As an artist, she has undertaken a number of research residencies around the world, in Canada, Australia, Glasgow and the Outer Hebrides in Scotland.

Within her practice, her focus is predominantly on landscape, architecture and the flow of water. Her experimental drawings as well as her prints and sculptural design commissions are often the result of working with individuals and communities. She develops her work often through conversation, archive research, observation and sketchbook drawing. All in all, her working process perfectly resonates with the ethos embodied in residencies in general.

Rachel Duckhouse Worlding Project
‘Pen and ink drawing (in progress)’, 2020. Rachel Duckhouse. Courtesy of the artist

WORLDING project

WORLDING is an invitation-based artist residency & project space based in London focused on drawing in it’s many forms and ‘conceived to create a safe haven for artists’, it began at the end of 2020. Art critic and curator Joana Neves and artist Diogo Pimentao founded the residency. ‘Our current predicament of the pandemic is at the heart of our exchanges and creative processes. Therefore, Rachel is experiencing the residency space and neighbourhood remotely through digital means, moulding her inner perception of an interior space, a street or a borough.’ This is starting as remote, but Rachel will be spending some time there later in the year, when it is possible to do so.

Worlding Rachel Duckhouse
‘Sketchbook image’, 2020. Rachel Duckhouse. Courtesy of the artist

The pilot project will last 12 months, with the idea of becoming a long term studio residency for artists worldwide. WORLDING welcomes expanded drawing practices, perceiving drawing to be the contemporary nervous system of art making. As a residency, they allow artists to have production, research and networking rent free space for a period of time. In particular, they support artists through interviews, texts and other content available on various platforms. Both Joana and Diogo discussed their new curatorial projects with Dr Zoë Mendelson for an online talk recently. Duckhouse spoke about her practice, drawing, residencies and the process of art-making.

Duckhouse Watershed+
‘Watershed+ Artist Residency’, 2012-13. Rachel Duckhouse. Courtesy of the artist

WATERSHED+ in Calgary, Canada

To begin with, her first residency was with WATERSHED+ in Calgary, Canada. Duckhouse decided to apply for an open call from the city, as they were looking for artists from across the world. They required the artist to research and create work about Calagary’s water system. Calgary has a beautiful river that flows through the city, eventually connected to an entire infrastructure in the dealing of it. With no experience in the flow of water in cities, Duckhouse got the residency and was chosen for her open minded attitudes in her practice.

Calgary Rachel Duckhouse
‘Only Flow, TRUCK, Calgary’, 2012-2013. Rachel Duckhouse. Courtesy of the artist

Residencies require you to be able to respond to an environment and be open to different ideas of making. She began to start conversations with people in the city, trying to gage people’s knowledge and ideas on water. Consequently, she eventually had a conversation on fluidity and fluid dynamics. In particular the flow of water through a city, including the speed and depth. She used her sketchbook as a tool to draw out thoughts and ideas. For her, the drawings made on the residency are not representational drawings in an illustrative way. In this case, she sees them as experiments, developed from conversations into a visual language. In the meantime, as the months went by, she began to create large drawings, mostly focusing on flowing water.

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University of Glasgow

A few years on, in 2016 till 2018, Duckhouse worked with the University of Glasgow. Duckhouse met a scientist working on the growing patterns of mother of pearl, found inside shells. This is a natural surface scientifically has great mystery around it. During her time there, she looked into stem cell growth on the surface of mother of pearl which was being researched at the time. She began researching these patterns, mostly only seen through a microscopic lens. Most often, she was looking at patterns within the body and how they grow over time.

This eventually lead onto another residency within the engineering department of the university. As she began to work with this department, her interest in grid forms, patterns and drawing disordered patterns also intrigued the department. All in all, she doesn’t make her drawings representational, she thinks of them as thought experiments depicting the ideas within the minds of the scientists she was working with. She saw her work on this residency as experimental, building on her existing ideas around architectural patterns.

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Other residencies

As well as this, in the Summer of 2019 Rachel completed her RSA Residency in Scotland, specifically in Taigh Chearsabhagh, North Uist. In response to this residency, Duckhouse exhibited her drawings in her exhibition ‘Trusadh / A Gathering’. During this residency, Duckhouse walked 156 miles of the Hebridean Way, finally spending two weeks in the Taigh Chearsabhagh studio. Accordingly, her reflections on her experience of the landscape is what informed her new drawings. With this intention, Duckhouse created her twelve pen and ink drawings from sketchbook studies made there. Her concerns were specifically with the threat of rising sea levels in the low lying islands, due to rapid global warming.

In the Winter of 2019, Duckhouse was the International Artist in Residence at the Megalo Print Studio in Canberra, Australia. Along with this residency, she also was the Associate Artist in 2015 at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. She was also involved in ‘Thinking about Art and Sustainability’ on the Isle of Mull in 2014.

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More than ever, residencies grant individuals with invaluable time and ideal environments for the development and realisation of ideas, often rooted in research. As a process, they have become hugely beneficial to the progression of artist’s practices worldwide. Above all, they often give a specific area the opportunity for an artist’s perspective and insight. All in all, the platform, space, material and time given to the artist on a residency allows for artistic growth for both the artist and organisation. Other important worldwide artist residencies take place at The Delfina Foundation and the Gasworks Artist Residency.