Clare Churchouse and Gelah Penn: Cross-Pollination

Raging Tide (aftermath)
A collaborative drawing installation by Clare Churchouse and Gelah Penn

We began our collaboration by discussing the ideas and influences informing our work and how they might be useful in formulating this project. Gelah suggested viewing the Hitchcock film Shadow of a Doubt, with its examination of the dark undercurrents in American life. Clare chose four articles on the critical issues of climate change, sea level and ice melt. These became the touchstones for our collaboration.

Materials and Process
Both of us use a variety of synthetic materials, e.g., mylar and optical plastics, that are translucent, richly visual, durable and easily manipulated on recto and verso. Photographic images and a smattering of textiles were also incorporated.

After determining parameters of overall size, we independently began by making components that would encourage maximum flexibility in approach. We then exchanged these drawings, working on them with free rein to erase, cut up, add to or alter. Finally, we brought together both sets of our drawing responses to Clare’s studio. This was the first time that we’d seen each other’s manipulations.

We then worked together to create a single installation with all of our components. We considered the interventions each of us had made and worked with our drawings in an in-the-moment, intuitive way. We positioned pieces on the wall, moved them around, and folded and overlapped them, frequently stepping back to review our moves. We talked about what worked and what needed to change. This exciting, cross-pollinating approach elicited atypical responses and actions that we agreed might not have occurred working independently.

The collaborative process, we were pleased to find, resulted in an installation that is a hybrid of our individual interests and methods, evincing qualities that are both familiar and totally unexpected.

Gelah Penn

Clare Churchouse