Oil paintings installed with a dog harness embroidered with the words nervous dog. I have embarked on a practice led PhD. , but am fearful. Will I ruin my carefully formed cognition? Will I lose the space to do nothing for which I have paid dearly in material security? Can I even do this? My art practice is under threat as I trudge about from pillar to post adopting different precarious professional guises, mostly staring at tarmac and pavement unless distracted by a passing dog. I responded by taking hip level photos of the pavement and road, and then locking myself in my studio and making small enjoyable studies from the photos. They are the equivalent of barre exercises for a professional ballet dancer – little extensions and dippings – unfurling physical abilities hard won and remembered bodily. I paint the road markings, privet and bird shit like they are beautiful.
What I know, what I don’t know and the sense I have made about the actor Angela Lansbury. I am a bit like Angela Lansbury but I am not Angela Lansbury. I know what it feels like on the inside to dance as a tall woman. I watched a you tube clip of an American TV show in which Ms Lansbury was shown footage of herself at my age, dancing and crying out ‘what about me?’ in a song about the thwarted ambitions of a middle aged woman. The screen split and so I could see the older Angela, watching the one who was my age. We both watched.
Group show selected from staff and students of Edinburgh College of Art to explore notions of scottish identity. Fleming Collection, Mayfair, London. 2013. My submisison involved asking Scottish children of my acquaintance to remodel paintings in the Fleming Collection using plasticine in small boxes to create tableaux. I then made paintings from those tableaux which could be slotted back into the Fleming Collection; not totally alien, but not quite on message either. Thank you to the Fleming Collection for their generous support of this project and to Kenny Hunter.
Living on the hebridean island of Lewis I am in no doubt that I have moved to a foreign country. Living inside another culture is a privilege, I have always been interested in the daily detail and unexpected domestic differences in other people’s lives. Having moved from urban Brighton to rural Carloway there was a crunching of gears, in particular a poor fit between the skills I brought with me and the skills I needed in my new environment.
In the face of Lewissian Gneiss and the crashing waters of the Atlantic, particularly in the crofting lifestyle that I had arrived into I was and am still slightly adrift, especially in comparison to women who can trace their family locally back to the 12th century with little difficulty. I enjoy Edward Said’s writings about the value of an identity not linked to place, but it’s harder to walk it than talk it. “It is therefore, a source of great virtue for the practised mind to learn, bit by bit, first to change about in visible and transitory things, so that
afterwards it may be able to leave them behind altogether. The person who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign place. The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world; the strong person has extended his love to all places; the perfect man has extinguished his” Hugo of St Victor, Didascalion, quoted in Said, Edward W; Culture and Imperialism, 1993 Hugo of St Victor, Didascalion, quoted in Said, Edward W; Culture and Imperialism, 1993.
The previously unknown to me phenomenon of the ‘soup and pudding lunch’ provided imagery for me to explore my environment and the landscape in a way that opened up themes of domestic heroism and succour. Soup and pudding lunches are put on by the women of the community to raise funds for local or global charitable concerns. Surrounded by the majestic and imposing grandeur of the mountains, lochs and moors, I constructed wee landscapes in crème caramel, meringue and soup and made paintings from these models.