John Kinross Scholar in 2017
Miriam Mallalieu, Catalogue series, Image 7, digital print, 2020
How did the experience affect you as an individual?
Spending time in Florence was the first time I have travelled abroad alone or spent a substantial amount of time exploring a foreign city. It was extremely liberating to have the freedom to wander without pressure of conventional tourist travel. I walked up to twenty kilometres a day in Florence, often returning to the same spots by different routes. I came to understand the city, not as dictated by a guidebook, but as a casual observer, learning how things connected, where routes led, and how the pace of the city changed in different spaces and at different times. I learned to be independent, to watch, to be unplanned and to drift. I also learned some Italian and all the unexpected and brilliant places to eat (down side streets and far from tourist trails).
What was the impact on your practice?
I spent longer gathering ideas and observations, sketching and thinking than in other projects, continuing long after my return to Scotland. I alternated between pleasure at the freedom of an undefined outcome, and anxiety at the breadth of possibility. I also felt the pressure of creating something specifically for a collection – I began to worry about the materials I was using, and how to make something that would last. Usually my work is very fragile, made with scraps of material that fade and breakdown. This worry began to feed into my practice, and I became interested in the relationship between materiality and efforts at preservation, leading eventually to my experiments with dipping guidebooks into porcelain, and gently pulling the surviving fragments of paper from the clay
What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and you work?
The interest in preservation, collection and longevity has continued in my practice, leading me to look at museum collections and institutional attempts to delay change or degradation. I feel like I am still unable to identify the long-term effects and impact – I returned from Florence two and a half years ago, and I am still developing my work as a direct response to that experience. I certainly feel like I have more confidence to undertake residencies, research and travel by myself, and I hope to do more of that in the coming years.