It is a bright morning in the East End of Glasgow and Ros and I are welcomed into Many Studios with a bright smile by Johanna Flanaghan. We are here to catch up with Johanna, to discuss and see the progress of her work for her forth coming solo exhibition.
Johanna studied textiles at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee and fashion the Royal College of Art in London. Themes of transformation and transmutation are always present in her work. Johanna creates figures that are frozen in the moment between one state and the next. Rather than aiming to recreate a flawless, idealised view of the human figure in a doll, she finds beauty in the incomplete, the broken, the decayed, lost, unexpected and vulnerable.
All of her pieces are individually hand dyed using herbal and plant infusions gathered in Scotland and prepared by hand in her studio. Each piece is a response not only to her own creative inclination at the time of making, but to the season, weather, vegetation and environment around her at a particular time and place.
Confronted by stark white walls, an almost pristine, clinical environment, in which cubicle style studio spaces hide an abundance of creativity. It feels oddly dormant, with artists most likely out enjoying the sunshine or still in bed. Tucked in a quiet corner of this converted warehouse space Johanna finds a place just for her. A small but ample space, treasures and finds stashed around and sketches and makes pinned or taped unpretentiously to the walls. Natural and unimposing, delicate and ornate, half-finished and working pieces adorn every surface and hang minimally on the walls. It was a feast for the eyes, a delight to be surrounded by and joy to discover.
It is so intriguing to be let into a studio space, somewhere an artist is at once vulnerable and triumphant, accomplished and amateur. Often private places, Johanna had ‘tidied’ for us but remnants of scrap fabrics, old threads and teabags remained visible.
Johanna is now working towards completing pieces for her solo exhibition here at Tig Gallery this October. Still very much a working progress, we are identifying themes that will be prevalent in the October show. A working space, balancing, influx, not quite alive but stirring in some distant way. Raw, uncompleted and primitive. We are incredibly excited about the show. It will be a departure from our usual. An inclusive and immersive experience where the walls are growing and shifting.
Watch this space!