Wednesday, 23 October 2013


No images for this post; just a big thank you to the Masters students at GSA today; talking about reflective writing, what it could be, why we do it as creative people as an integral part of our practice.

I can't really imagine a time when I wont do it and I find it difficult to understand how a creative person could survive without it. The benefits far outweigh the time spent thinking through writing, it opens up new worlds.

There is no 'correct' way to do, if it works for you then it must be 'right'. Personally, I write reflectively in order to think unconscious thoughts, to help organise my hectic mind, to clear space within my head for new thoughts.

I blog to feel 'grown up', to connect, to seek resonance and discourse. Between the two, journal writing or blogging, the journal wins hands down. I am in my journal in a way that I am in no other aspect of my creative practice, I reveal the myself.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

heuristic research and mirrors

I'm sure many thousands of psychology researchers have come across heuristic research, but it was new to me, as an artist and what's more interesting, it feels so familiar. The idea of complete immersion, solipsistic, isolated, staring into the mirror day after day and seeing so many faces looking back down over the years..............this is compelling. It's also very difficult to sustain without the feeling that you're slowly going slightly crazy. I'd like to have been around when Moustakas first wrote of this way of doing research, but I was too young, too distracted, just not ready to look into the void.

What bothers me slightly, regardless of how comfortable this type of research feels, is 'am I doing it right?'. This may not matter too much (at this stage) as there is no 'right', or so it seems. Is this too good to be true? I wonder? Phenomenological research offers many pathways, this is just one of them. But it has encouraged me to look again at what I'm doing, the question of rigour, integrity and variable truths. I'm now reflecting on some of the summer collages of this year, the visceral ones, where writing was almost impossible, apart from describing the process itself, my choice of materials etc. I wrote very little of their meaning, just needing the images to speak for me. Immersion and incubation have been and gone, I'm now at the illumination stage. Expilcation comes later. The creative synthesis is way down the line of thought, out of sight.

I'm doing a short talk at the GSA tomorrow on this blog and on reading back over these months of posts, it feels as if the chosen content is becoming much more serious, less conversational, (if it ever was that?) more contemplative, more questioning..............more 'grown up'. Or is it just me seeing it that way as I delve down into very uncomfortable undergrowth? I only tend to add a post when there is some aspect of the research I want to put out there, to share, to invite comment, or just to let go of it for a while. Initiating discourse would be good, the challenge to look again at the work in new ways would help me.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

self analysis

As I look back over what I've done this summer, I wonder about the thin line between self analysis and art therapy. I'm not ill, I'm just ageing, it's not easy nor do I have a choice in the matter. Trying to articulate this journey is almost impossible, I've no idea what words to choose, none come up to the mark for me. But images do, they tell of shadows, distant memories perhaps false, created histories and whispers. I'm layering my thoughts with these images, as I position one on top of the other. Some take on a dominant role, others float quietly behind, hoping to be un-noticed. This will take me to the words I need to write. This is nipping at my heels, demanding attention and I don't know where to begin, I'm in a fog.

Digital book!

I had the opportunity to see a review copy of Ann Marie Shillito’s book ‘Digital Crafts: Industrial Technologies for Applied Artists and Designer Makers’ in which I have a vested interest as my digital designs for printed textiles are included.
How I see myself using Digital Crafts – initially – is as a way of ‘finding out’ who is ‘out there’ working as I do – feeling my way in what might feel an alien, almost non-human world of creative process by machine. The contradiction here is intentional – we seek out our own kind, as I am now doing, with this book.
The next layer of experiencing the book is through exploring new names whose work resonates with my own or even my way of thinking about creative process, for this is (still) very much about creative process, albeit in collaboration with technology. A good example of encountering ‘new faces’ is my first becoming aware of  and inspired by Monika Auch; I want to find out more about her beautiful work and how she uses digital technology.
Further reading will inevitably lead me into unknown, unfamiliar territory – I am not naturally ‘technical’ – I respond to organic forms rather than ‘mechanically extruded’ ones. I see this process of discovery happening automatically – we’re driven by curiosity, a desire to explore new ideas which resonate and ultimately broaden our own. So this is what I see as being the essence of Digital Crafts – a visually stimulating layered journey with excellent sign posting.

The book will be published on 10th October 2013 by Bloomsbury and Ann Marie’s Company, Anarkik3D , are offering signed copies through their Kickstarter crowdfunding project (link to be added when it goes live).

Monday, 9 September 2013

Atomic Doric, Year of Scotland in Nature at Woodend Barn, Banchory

Recently I had a beautiful opportunity in Glen Tanar, Royal Deeside. (
I was invited to do a short residency by Woodend Barn Banchory, as part of their Year of Natural Scotland project, Atomic Doric. A project which takes a look at the people and natural spaces that make Aberdeenshire so special. (
The location was stunning, we forget just how amazing our small country looks, the varied landscapes, tones and textures of our natural world. I gave an out of doors workshop on making natural paintbrushes from found materials and will be creating a piece of work in response to my stay, which will be exhibited at Woodend Barn and Glen Tanar Visitors Centre later this year.

What struck me more than anything else, was................tree bark. Obvious, maybe, but until you get up close to these wonderful surfaces, their real beauty is seen en masse rather than as potential homes for tiny creatures, offering protection from predators and the weather. The work I create will hopefully reflect this sense subtle containment.

Meanwhile, here are some images from my stay there and thanks to all who made this possible, I really appreciated the space away to just breathe, look and imagine.

An excellent few days! I must go back up there sometime, so much to see, so well cared for, the locals are lucky to have such a wonderful place right on their doorstep. I met some lovely folk up there, out walking, enhancing their sense of wellbeing in Nature. The Rangers were great; helpful, enthusiastic and very knowledgable about the area and its history. They made some good natural paintbrushes too!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

time passing

I haven't felt like writing in the blog; too much internalising going on I expect, but I have been busy in the studio. Teaching fills head space so working when energy allows and ideas flow, seems to work best for me.

These two were done in March, when I sensed that I wanted to use a familiar image to visualise my thinking on the research. The doll's head has significance for me in that it embodies a great deal of how I see my life evolving. 

More work followed shortly afterwards, again, using the doll's head. What I find interesting about working this way; intuitively, is the element of surprise I feel when standing back and just looking at what emerges.

More work followed, again, emergent identities stare back at me from the page. In June I created this collage, it developed from this image but maybe this works best as it's clear-cut, at least for me. Using the doll's body was important, without the head to distract me.

In July, life took on another sense of direction, one where deeply held convictions surfaced in the work I created, none of it comfortable. I decided to actually make some heads, have them standing in a group, inter-connecting, like voices.

 And finally to now, with this work, in paper and old lace, maybe still in the making, I'm not sure yet.

I don't know where this is going, but the 'head' is now an entity in its own right, outwith my direction. This is new for me, not just working figuratively but watching from outside myself, of myself.