by Angela McDonagh
I think we can all relate to the feeling of ‘what is next?’ as artists. This pause after completing a body of work, the pause after studying; this pause is necessary. It is not an empty space—it is a loaded in between. In my own research I had considered the many spaces that are possible, which one was I trying to find, that made sense to the Phenomenological experience I had encountered in the presence of loved ones passing away. After much making and consideration of other defining words and concepts, such as liminal space and nowhere, it was eventually the Japanese aesthetic principle MA that made sense to that experience—the pause, the space between two structured parts, where the light shines in and through.
It was in one of these moments I found myself sitting in my front room at home. I had just completed my MFA and wanted to make something happen. The idea of waiting for potential grants to find the right space sat too heavy for me as I wanted to act now. I must add that keeping a practice going as a mother can be challenging. I have watched friends juggle, all the roles that we carry as women, managing childcare and passionate to make work all at the same time. Opening up my home made this possible for me to address with ease, as I am basing myself at home.
It now seems obvious if I consider my art practice, based on the experience of space and place, facilitating flow within the built structure. I considered using the front room, then, why stop there, the whole house could be used, and so as a needs must, a space for live performance evolved. I began to invite people over for tea, and this built into each artist being drawn to different areas of the house. Everyone brought something unique from the walls, to the bathroom, staircase and the kitchen. Perhaps it is that the space is a home, that the work presented was beautifully sincere, and personal, along with the bizarre and funny, and we all identify with these experiences in houses, be they our family homes, or a short term rental in a room. We carry these memories and feelings, sometimes never putting shape or form on them, but I see that Room has become a space to allow for that flow.
It is also important to consider that existing as a community of artists we need to find ways to support each other. This can start local and spiral outwards. Room is activated by artists and friends coming to engage as both performer and audience, in fact this lines becomes blurred as we move from room to room, I’ve had a few moments where it feels like a house party, also a familiar feeling. To offer food is another way to add a layer of comfort, and welcome people around the table creating more dialogue.
As long as I’m here, I will continue to open up this space and feel privileged to see artist bring these bricks and mortar to life.