Now that we have entered October, the month of cold mist, dappled sunshine and the cheery embrace of Autumn, I thought I would update you on my adventures and art making during the month of September!
After a short break at home and visiting family around Britain, I began preparation in earnest for my collaborative exhibition: Highland Dissonance, to be held at the Savoy Centre, Glasgow on the 12th September. My collaborators, Rowanne Lee and Hannah Lyth had, to various degrees, shaped this exhibition in to a site-specific work exploring printmaking and drawing primarily. An all-encompassing wall work with a sense of infinity through reflective surfaces. Our content focussed on capturing the sense of peace felt when standing before the majesty of the Scottish Highlands and the intense desire to return, hopefully creating the slight discord between the moment and the memory. Hannah and I began feverishly creating the physical work, printing and drawing on a large scale, installed in the studio, excited at the prospect of sharing our experience with the new freshers and re-energised student body of GSA.
But then disaster struck... A change in gallery space at the Savoy sent us in to a minor panic spiral. We had to completely re-evaluate the form of the piece, re-configure a unified work in to three separate large scale prints. To our delight, this development enhanced the sense of 'dissonance', the breaks between the works a visual cue that our intention was not to re-create the sublime awe of the Highlands themselves, but the fragmented memory and feeling of it. Our excitement and determination was renewed, we broke the pieces down and redoubled our frenzied efforts. The work was leaving its awkward pubescence, graduating in to something more refined and thought through. Social media was informed, our date was set and we had only to sort the new space before we could display our creations. A 'little' work turned in to an overwhelming task to prepare the gallery, but we called in some support and set to the job of fixing the floors, walls and roof of our unit. Had it not been for the section of roof that fell on my head, knocked me out and landed me in hospital with a head injury and concussion, I truly believe we would have succeeded.
Alas, we had to cancel Highland Dissonance. We have taken a temporary step backwards from proceedings, to allow time to recover from our injuries and exhaustion and assess the situation objectively. But rest assured, Highland Dissonance 2.0 (if you will) will make its appearance soon enough! In the meantime, I have been focussing my attention to other projects, considering the direction my solo practice is taking and exploring modes of expression that have fallen by the wayside in the last few years.
What has struck me most profoundly was my complete lack of sadness as I watched the new GSA students start their new term. I was fully prepared to feel devastated, even jealous as I saw groups of raggedy youths going wild at the prospect of the academic year. Instead I felt deeply content, liberated and inspired by my lack of institutional direction and examination. I do not expect others to share in my opinion, but I have realised my focus while at GSA was very singular. Everything had to somehow connect to my visual practice, all my activities had to have a proven link to, be explained by or documented in connection with what I produced in the studio. Whether this was required of me, I will never know, but the pressure to always be making a summative statement about the direction of my practice never sat very well with me. I've come to realise my interests are far more diverse, I create my best work when I am engaging with all of my creative pursuits and making work when the dispirit experiments cross paths - when it makes sense to respond.
I have been making, writing and performing music, with plans to perform a series of sound based works across the city of Glasgow. I have ventured in to graphic design, designing album covers with the view that they are miniature, thematic works of art and treating them as such. I am participating in a group performance (more details to be provided very soon!) in mid October in an effort to expand my understanding of performative and installation art. I have begun writing science fiction, something I thought I had left with my younger self back in Aberdeenshire. I have also been looking after my incredibly old, blind and deaf dog Cassie - not that it is particularly artistically relevant, but given her ailments, she is so utterly happy all of the time it would be impossible to deny she has contributed greatly to how fun this month has been. Yes, money is tight, yes the looming threat of Trump and Brexit exist; yes I am missing the close proximity to my inspiring studio buddies, but I am feeling more inspired in this month than I ever did while at GSA and I think my new works are reflecting this.
September, in summary, has been an incredibly informative month. I have learnt a great deal about what urges me to make art and discovered that it is my response mechanism, my expression of what has happened and my method of digesting the complex world around me. I work cyclically, revisiting dormant interests, following exciting leads and creating an environment in which to comment, capture and distill my experience without needing to revert to the directly autobiographical.
I will be adding snippets of new works as they unfold on this blog section and some new content to the main website as they venture out in to the public domain, so keep your eyes peeled and minds open. I will also be updating my Artist Bio... Multimedia shenanigans are coming your way!