Materials are ineffable. They cannot be pinned down in terms of established concepts or categories. To describe any material is to pose a riddle, whose answer can be discovered only through observation and engagement with what is there. The riddle gives the material a voice and allows it to tell its own story: it us up to us, then, to listen, and from the clues it offers, to discover what is speaking. (Ingold 2013, 31)
Shifting Boundaries is a collaboration between visual artists Yvette Hawkins and Judith Davies. Over a one-year period, Hawkins and Davies have developed a visual dialogue, exploring materiality by pushing the boundaries of materials, adopting an experimental approach to making. The balance between chance and control is central to this experimentation; privileging processes that allow the materials to affect outcomes by working with their intrinsic properties. The artists have chosen to work with natural pigments and explored methods of dipping, pouring and washing that build up layers of deposits, forming a palminset of mark-making that evidences also the interaction of the hand. Working across scale and colour the work finds a meeting point where both their practices in textiles, ceramics and drawing co-exist. This is reflected through a new site specific commission made in collaboration; alongside drawings, ceramics, textiles and artist books.
As well as exploring boundaries in their individual practices, the work brings to light the use of boundary on a physical and geographical scale by referencing the border lands of Scotland and England, formed in most part by the river Tweed. The artists have collected raw materials from the river banks, creating pigments and dyes that explore the geological changes from limestone to iron rich rock as the border is crossed.
This collaboration has come about through the artists’ experience of sharing a studio and finding commonality of approach in their making over an extended period. The studio is divided, having its own boundary, but passing through this, ideas have exchanged. While both artists have worked under different materials and making processes, it became apparent that a mutual understanding and visual language has emerged naturally, forming a new collaborative practice inside the studio and beyond in the physical landscape.