Here I am on the evening after installation; comprehending what's just happened. In March, I had a grand day out with my friend Sam - a day that led to Tchai Ovna and a glint of an idea. I sent some sample works to Sandra, Tchai's lovely art specialist, and we arranged an exhibition for June. Ever my favourite month (the Gemini is strong with this one), I wanted this exhibition to reflect upon the colours, vitality and progressively slumberous nature of this time of year. I am so grateful to Tchai for letting me use their, frankly, magical space to explore this peculiar obsession with The Perfect Spot.
Putting April's showers to good use, I barricaded my studio door and set about sourcing, restoring and developing a body of work I started in 2016. I have a tendency to reincorporate old works in to new works; loan works out on a hope and a dream; stand on things, lose things... I knew I had created a substantial body of work handling The Perfect Spot, exploring it through scale, colouration and experimental printmaking processes. After a long month, I had the full set and just needed to remember exactly what this meant to me.
This image came into being as I blundered into this peaceful scene while on residency on the west coast of Scotland in 2016. I had just graduated from GSA, Painting and Printmaking and desperately needed to be away, in nature; on this Floating Art Residency. So a group of us canoed up Loch Shiel from Glenfinnan to make art on its shores, camp wild and generally survive a Scottish July This idyllic moment caught me off guard on our final night - and all I could get was a rain-sodden, sun-saturated photo as documentation. I studied it intensely in the moment though. The frog was not afraid of me and seemed determined to enjoy its prefect little nook, regardless of what I was up to. A fleck of bark had come dislodged form a sort of roof over my amphibious acquaintance, and the effect with the soggy sunset shining through was highly dramatic. I sat in this place for an unknown length of time.
Of course, I took the image home with me and doggedly set about replicating it. I spent the best part of a year subjecting it to many iterations of my solvent print process - evolving them in tandem. Since the true magic of this method is how the pigment interacts with light, I indulged in my surfaces, ranges of colour at my disposal, methods of mark-making, layering, combining - I went to town on my technique here. I had no real direction for these until the opportunity to show at the Lillie Gallery arose and I began to focus on commercially viable product. I made the chiffon as a reaction to the constrained consistency demanded by paper.
In April 2017, I installed the Perfect Spot chiffon in the Lillie Art Gallery as part of Women's Work: Being Seen. I got a real sense in this display for how the chiffon hangs in public spaces, and the way people interact with it on a material level. It makes them slow down somehow. The experience sparked a desire to explore how this body of work could operate as a moveable place of tranquility. I have been hanging the chiffon in various locations; on abandoned train carriages in Aberdeenshire, from trees guarding stone circles... every wall in my house. It changes so unexpectedly in light. It will not do what you expect it to do, ever. Where you see the image clearly once, you see only the wall behind it the next. It's a peculiar process with peculiar results.
Now The Perfect Spot is living out its collective fantasy on the walls of Tchai Ovna. As one of the first places I visited on moving to Glasgow all those years ago, Tchai has a very dear place in my heart. I just felt all the lay lines align with this exhibition. I really hope it exerts some influence within this space and brings some of the curiosity and peacefull joy I experienced that day on Loch Shiel. I will be keeping up to date with the space and am looking into arranging a few events - to bring some creative brains together around a good pot of tea.
I really do enjoy watching the reaction to these installations. It’s simply the best way to develop the next idea. So far I’ve witnessed a therapy group conducting a session, snuggled in around the Perfect Spot. I’ve quietly worked my way through a pot of Apple Streudel tea and watched a man look everywhere EXCEPT at my work. I’ve got reasonable evidence that Darren Brown was in Tchai Ovna and therefore must have seen it. I’ve seen my brother glitch while taking a panoramic shot of it all... I’ve even had an offer of something quite exciting...!
This post will be continually updated, so check in to see what's happening!