Updated: Jan 25, 2022
At the beginning of 2020 we were gifted a space at SET Woolwich. We have used it as a Residency space for our members, hosting 3 month long Residencies. Hayleigh was a recipient of the residency from May to August. This Interview is the first of 6 interviews with our 2020 creatives.
Can you tell me a bit about your work?
I am a practising artist mostly working with photography, I am also deeply interested in curation. In my photographic work I use portraiture and surroundings in both a traditional and playful sense. Using my camera as a tool to open up different conversations with my subjects allows me to create a sensitive nature between myself and the subject. Using different materials, installation and framing techniques, I am interested in the way photography can live beyond the lens. When exhibiting my work I like to play with this concept to give the work additional context.
Why did you apply for the WCCD Residency?
I applied for the WCCD residency as I have never had a studio space before and thought the opportunity was too good to miss out on. I was unemployed due to the pandemic when I applied and thought it would be a good time to invest in my own practise whilst still looking for new work. I also wanted a space that could be mine (temporarily) to make new work and expand on ideas that I haven’t been able to for a while. I wanted to have a space I could invite others into and to meet other creatives after spending so much time at home over the last year or so.
Tell us about what you got up to during the residency!
During the residency I spent the first couple of weeks making the space feel cosy. I painted the walls white and brought in some books and things to help me gain some inspiration of what I wanted to focus on. Within three weeks of me having the studio I got offered a full time position as a studio manager for two commercial photographers, which I am still currently working for. This role is a full-time position and through the summer period I was working a lot on set as a photo assistant meaning it made it difficult for me to get to the studio as I had barely little time for my practise. I felt guilty about the fact I wasn’t utilising the space as much as I should be, after applying for the opportunity and discussing how I had never had the privilege of having my own space to then working full time with a space being offered to me and not using it, did not sit well with me. I thought about what I could do to make something of it and spoke with the founder of the working class creative database, Seren about how I felt and offered to set-up a studio share. I invited a friend of mine Rosemary to share the studio with me so that the space would not be going to waste.
Rosemary used it in the week and I used it on the weekends when I could around my long working hours. Rosemary Callaghan and I met at Manchester school of art when we were studying for our BA. We weren't on the same course but were in the same building and have collaborated on a few projects in the past. Rosemary used the space to progress on her textiles
work creating a new body of work called Ma Vacui. The ideas behind the project consisted of the concepts of the words themselves. Ma, the idea of space being an active element within art and architecture, whilst Horror Vacui is the fear of any negative space whatsoever. From this, a collection of pieces were produced that played with these notions. For example, two wall hangings were created that mirrored each other’s shadows. One piece was visually hectic, whilst the other shows it’s simplistic negative. Both are pieces in their own right. On the weekends I was in the space I focused on preparing for an exhibition I took part in Septemeber as part of Foto Tallinn.
What will you be doing now the residency has ended?
Now that the residency has ended I will be continuing to work for the time being and learning in my new role as studio manager and continuing to push my personal work on the side. Despite not using the studio as much as I would have liked to, I am really grateful for the opportunity as I met Cath who I shared the studio with which was lovely and it has opened me up to the idea of having my own affordable studio space moving forward. Rosemary is currently based in Birmingham and has continued her practice. She works from a home studio where she has expanded her work to different mediums, including drawing, murals and clothing. She hopes to build up a visual signature that can be translated into many forms and looks forward to seeing where her works takes her. She sells her works via her instagram (@gallac__) and her website www.gallac.co.uk
Learn more about Hayleigh on her WCCD Profile: https://www.workingclasscreativesdatabase.co.uk/member/hayleigh-longman