In the spring of 2011, artists Andy Ness and Matt Philips executed their first mural in the Denniston Hill pool. Andy had been one of Denniston Hill’s first residents and we are delighted that his first collaboration with Matt Phillips is a part of Denniston Hill’s growing landscape of permanent work.
Although Ness and Phillips had shared a studio together for years, this was their first collaboration. The two artists started their collaboration at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.
About the mural, Ness wrote:
It was our hope that by starting in the print shop it would allow a level of distance to exist between our initial ideas and images. On one of our first days I took an old copy of The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles and read my favorite chapter to Matt. I’m not sure why, but it seemed to me there was something in that chapter that could translate into a pool mural. And there were two sentences within that chapter that reverberated in my head. They are spoken by the protagonist Port to his wife Kit as they sit on a hill somewhere in Algeria at dusk staring at the expanse:
The sky here’s very strange. I often have the sensation when I look at it that it’s a solid thing up there, protecting us from what’s behind.
This idea of the sky being a solid protective encasement was enchanting to both of us. From there we started playing around with the idea of the sky being a reflection in the pool… this ever-changing backdrop that would bring new life to whatever we created. The notion that we could control this piece only so much and that it would ultimately end up doing whatever it wanted to do… live a new life… is very central to what charged our images. We referred to a star map of the night sky as it is aligned directly over the pool during the summer months. This map provided us with a common framework of points, lines, and constellations to riff on. We then extended upon this scaffolding in many drawings that we were generating simultaneously so that there was very little time to think. While our individual approaches were quite varied, this map allowed our working practices to have a shared point of intersection and our distinct approaches to ultimately merge within a single image. Very early in the collaboration it became apparent that Matt would primarily establish a mosaic of color while I free-associated line drawings. Images of airplanes, teeth, and tools emerged and intersected with his dynamic geometric combinations.
Ultimately the most rewarding part was confronting all of the elements that were not within our jurisdiction… the way the water makes the image undulate and the constant evolution that the piece undergoes in the reflection of the sky.