As an artist emerging from Edinburgh College of Art I had hoped there would be a plethora of contacts and opportunities I would be able to take advantage of, as I had seen in previous years. The current situation has undermined all I had ever wanted to gain from my studies and graduation. There are thousands of art students graduating this year without a degree show, without the public exposure that would act as the first step into the art world. Some support has been offered by the various universities but nothing will compare.
I had dreamt of my degree show for years. In the weeks just before lockdown I was psyching myself up for the final push; the hours of hard labour, the sweat, blood, and tears. The staying in the studio until they chucked you out. The eating pot noodles and endless cups of coffee. The challenges of construction, presentation, and safety. The pure joy I would find in the creation of my vision. The art, always the art.
We have all been separated from our passions. This would have been a time to thrive but now it is a time for mourning. I walked past my university campus a couple of weeks into lockdown and found myself crying. The community has been fractured, the art has been locked away, and working from home is unreasonable. I am in limbo.
As a sculptor I cannot create right now, I can only imagine. Drawing is one way of imagining and became more integral to my practice. They already drove my decision making in terms of layout and scale.
In this situation, knowing there was no way to have closure, all I could do was reassure myself that it would have worked. I turned to model making and frantic scrabbling for materials in order to create this vision in miniature. The result was more of an approximation as it was only after its creation that I produced a full layout and plan for the work. The images, however, form a translation of the experience I was aiming to produce. It would have been a full experience and emersion in the installation, with the visitors activating the space; the ripples of water gently eroding the blocks over time.
“The damp solid ground with all potentials drowned, still holds old seeds and still dares to dream.”
– Extract from sketchbook writings, 2020.
Although this work has not had the exposure from the degree show it has found other ways to be disseminated. The work Built on Soil, 2020 has been featured in the a-n Degree Show Guide 2020 with a full page spread and other works have been displayed on Instagram platforms such as @sadgrads2020 and @quarantinedreams2020, with more to come. Today is the launch of the Edinburgh College of Art Graduate Show, which showcases my work and the amazing work of my peers. So please click here and go have a browse.
There are times when, as an artist, you feel like you just make things for the sake of it. This is mostly true but occasionally something happens and a piece of art just appears. This particular project started with a piece of my Christmas cactus being accidentally broken off. Me being me, I picked it up and decided to pot it in the hopes it would grow. However, without any fresh soil or a pot I cut up a milk carton and filled it with soil just dug up from a verge in the garden. This seemed to do the job and it began growing but so did all the seeds and things that were already in the soil.
Feeling kind of happy at the prospect of mysterious plants I decided not to weed it and let them grow and boy did they grow. I now have a very green window box fashioned from an old milk carton. With the thought of this unexpected life I went to work on the Isle of Mull, taking one of my casts with me. On arrival I started an experiment where I filled the cast with soil from the surrounding area. Watering it and caring for it as though there were seeds in it produced a beautiful effect. Everyday I wrote a short entry of my observations and everyday there was something new.
Life is all around us from the undisturbed seeds of plants long forgotten to a billion bacteria living in a teaspoon of soil. There is a lot more to the world than we sometimes expect and if we stop for a moment to watch it, to see it growing and changing we might see something beautiful.
Day 63, Week 9, 02/08/19
”The little forest seems to both grow slowly and quickly as the weeks go by. The vast variety astounds me. The whole cast has become a tangle of fine new greenness. A miniature forest of life in a landscape of information. When I get up close it is easy to get lost in its intricacies and imagine walking among them like an ant.”
This Hospitalfield micro-residency, organised by the university, gave me the opportunity to experiment with my ‘Linescape’ work and how it conveys, translates and embodies information. My fascination being in the detailed possibilities produced by line. A line can represent many things, sounds, words, music, pulses, waves, tremors, vibrations etc. and in such a simple way. I set out to create an ambiguous line that could be seen as any number of formations. Placed opposite a statue of a sailor holding a telescope signifies land. The setting of this extravagant Victorian house brings contrasting themes into play; the modern neon red of the light alluding to cheap consumerism of the city and an unsustainable life.
‘View to a Lightscape’ – Hospitalfield 2019
I introduced a second light, which was thin, blue and around the base of the statue, linking the statue to the line opposite. ‘View to a Lightscape’ changed all the way from the strong light of day through to the murky dark of night; different qualities highlighted throughout.
Continuing with my previous themes and expanding on new methods of casting has led me towards a more defined practice. My current work questions the materiality and relationship between humans and the natural world. Working with themes of environmental change and through the use of man-made materials my sculptures create a false sense of landscape, questioning our impact and relationship with nature in the current climate. The title “Set in stone?” illustrates these themes and questions the viewer’s position.
Paper, as an overused synthetic material, is familiar in all its forms, however, here I am drawing attention to the disused and discarded, the wasted, in a grounding and solid object. As an everyday material it is easy to overlook its abilities to hold and convey the smallest of information, whether through writing on the surface or using its materiality to shape an object, in the case of origami. To crush paper is to fill every inch of it with that moment’s information. This almost natural crush or crinkle is so often seen in a range of materials as a defect labelling it as rubbish to discard. The natural shape unworthy of use.
‘Set in stone?’ – 2018
‘Set in stone?’ – 2018
‘Set in stone?’ – 2018
‘Set in stone?’ – 2018
The introduction of colour into my work has allowed it to move away from the initial association with the blank sheet of paper that it reflects, and bring a new perspective to the work. It is then that the work will stand alone. Blue lakes and movement of water began this change, but ultimately the idea of the lack of water drove my decision for the colouring of “Set in stone?”. Sandy yellow, a representation of dryness, dunes, dust, and sandstone. It takes on other connotations too, the surface of a foreign moon or planet, otherworldly landscapes formed in the mind.
The edge; something a landscape shouldn’t have. Dropping away harshly into seeming nothingness. This effect deepens the weight and tome-like nature of the piece; like the Rosetta Stone baring coded information it presents a mystery and a challenge. Within this natural code forms come; geometrical shapes, triangles for instance, that appear as they do in crystals from an outside force. Here the force was a peer who I handed the paper to, taking some of the authorship away from me. This, to emphasise chaos and unpredictability in the process.
I find the city at night to have an eerie kind of peacefulness. The lights and colours seem decadent, illuminating deserted shops and buildings. I took these on new years eve and managed to catch a couple of fireworks from the top of the crags in Edinburgh.