The latest blog from Daniel Tollady, Resident Armchair Artist at The Beaney in Canterbury.
This September marks the tenth anniversary of the first time that I had ever walked into the Beaney. It was 2006 and I had just started my BA in Interior Architecture at the University for the Creative Arts. Our first project was called Enclosure and in groups we had to design and build 1:1 enclosures that had to be installed somewhere along the beach in Whitstable for the night. Coming from London and grouped with two international students, we were all unfamiliar with Whitstable so we brought ourselves here to research it. We picked a stack of books at random from the loca history section and sat in one of the reading rooms, which I believe, was located somewhere in the space that The Garden Room now occupies.
Of course, over the years, I continued to visit until it eventually closed for refurbishment in 2009 (which also happened to be when I finished my studies…) I remember going in for the first time after it had reopened in 2012, and I was surprised at how different it was, yet familiar at the same time. A lot of the character had been maintained, thankfully, even though my first ever reading space hadn’t been. Retrospectively speaking, I had suddenly found myself at a specific point in space (place) that was both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. A place that I had once used for a substantial amount of time was both there and not there. The chairs and tables and bookcases had been replaced by beautiful paintings from Canterbury’s own Thomas Sidney Cooper.
Aside from my first visit to the Beaney all those years ago, this September also marks the tenth anniversary of me as a practicing Spatialist, from my first day of studies to the minute that I type these words. My practice has evolved over the years but continues to explore notions of becoming and spatiality, or, continues to explore how a space is constructed and defines itself. I do this through intuitive drawing processes and the creation of 1:1 structural objects. These are generated through a language of geometries that exists in a state of flux, changing as I continue to model new spatial possibilities.
Visiting in 2016 as the next Artist in Residence grants me a new perspective that I otherwise would have never experienced. I’ve been given the opportunity to use my methodology to analyse the Beaney. No longer am I visiting just as someone hungry for art and knowledge, now I am visiting as someone that, besides being hungry still, is there with the purpose of getting to know the institution on a new personal level. I get to explore every detail of the collections and the building fabric itself and use this information to establish something new.
Right now, I don’t have a specific outcome in mind, but rather, a set of processes and tools at my disposal that will allow for an outcome to emerge. I’ve never been one for predetermining what I am working towards and prefer that the outcomes develop more organically. I do know, however, that I want to create a body of work that conveys the spatiality of The Beaney, and explores the physical and temporal qualities that exist here. Through a series of drawings, structures and live events, my aim is to address this abstract disconnection that I experience in The Garden Room, this sudden fissure in spacetime that I am perceiving, and establish a new spatial narrative from the information that now exists. Words cannot describe how excited I am to embark on this journey, and I hope that all of Canterbury is excited to join me too.