In July, I embarked upon the Floating Art Residency: an experiment in art making using only the surrounding materials and limited resources we could carry. We canoed, camped and collaborated to create an environment in which we could make art. A group of sculptors, environmental artists, painters, printmakers and material enthusiasts - anything could have happened.
Through pretty tough conditions, we managed to create and generate ideas and experiment with our surroundings. I found myself making materials first of all, whittling sticks and drawing with dirt - somewhat absent mindedly. Doodling in the sketchbook I had brought, but not finding much satisfaction. For the first few days of this trip, I found and sawed firewood, lamented my destroyed boots and looked hopefully up at the sky for a break in the clouds. Mostly I played with the fire, dried out my clothes and reinforced the £20 tent Rowanne and I had to share after I stupidly brought the wrong one. But gradually, as we got in to our rhythms, our doodles began to gain intention. Some built, some photographed, some dug, some made a mess with pigments. We all became incredibly interested in something...
I had a great deal of fun on this trip, and I think (nay: know) finding that joy in my work again was critical if I was to continue making it. I had brought some decal paper transfers with me, leftover prints from the degree show. Having the figures with me opened up a whole new dimension - where these figures interact with both the landscape and my companions for the purpose of a future work when I returned to Glasgow? I had a fantastic time submerging, wedging, sticking and hanging these figures wherever they would stay and photographing the result. Through this, I gathered not only a wealth of bizarre and humorous images, but a real appreciation for the view.
That view... The one where you are alone at the edge of a tuft of grass or rock looking out over the vast empty valley after having endured hell to get there. Perhaps the sun is setting, or the skies have cleared for a moment, or you've just looked up from your trudge for just a second - and there it is... Nobody is there to take a picture, you don't need a phone, you will remember this forever.
During the week, I was struck by something one of my companions, Malcolm, mentioned. A phrase; 'Highland Dissonance' - where people from the highlands of Scotland are physically drawn back to the raw beauty of their home landscape, an irresistible urge that carries them through any obstacle of weather, conditions or midge misery just to stand and gaze upon the still majesty of the west coast. As someone who grew up in rural Aberdeenshire, whose visits to the highlands and islands as a child stand out like jewels in my memory, this phrase resonated. I am always drawn back With every re-visit, every re-view, I find myself just standing, staring and thinking, about everything - and nothing - at once. Highland Dissonance, to me, sums up how everything else compares to this. Things may be better, things may be worse; but this view is unique.
This trip has undoubtedly had great influence on my most recent works. I have made many things in response, in many forms - from songs to an entire exhibition. Over the next few weeks I will be regularly updating this website with works from FAR, collaborative installations, printed works and written responses.
Enjoy the view x