It seemed a distant prospect when I signed up for it but the months have whizzed past and here I am right in the middle of my first ever Perthshire Open Studio Event. Project commitments have meant that I am not as prepared as I had wanted to be. There have been a few long weekends sawing, ,hammering, filling & painting to get my ‘Shed’ beyond the rough & ready workspace it usually is, to the point where it is ready to show my work and accept any prospective visitors.
The newly painted white walls has transformed the untidy & chaotic space into a reasonable personal gallery where I have the opportunity to display past projects and more recent new work offering an insight into my artistic practice. Visitor numbers have not been very high but those who have come to view the work have been incredibly generous with their praise. With a couple of potential leads the event has been a worthwhile undertaking so far, I look forward to welcoming many more in the next few days.
Having spent the last two weeks creating the carved elements for the South Wall for the Forfar Botanists Garden, this week has been taken up with installing them into their final positions.
Correctly spacing them meant that I have had to be very careful in watching my levels as the wall grows in height, the main fear I had was that if I didn’t control the spaces between the elements by the time I started creating the alcoves for the sculptures they would looked ‘pinched’ within the height of the wall. Now that it is complete I think I pulled it off – phew!!
Week Beginning May 27th 2013 – My fourth week on site at Forfar Botanists Garden sees me begin work on the features that will be built into the south wall. With 5 name plaques to carve and two sculptures to form I have my work ‘cut’ out for me this week. After a trip to Tradstocks last week to select the stones the first day saw me do the rough work on the basic blocks. With an aim that the finished pieces contrast with a mix of colour & texture I chose a lump of pink Scottish whin & a piece of portugese grey granite, after the rough cutting, above it is difficult to tell which is which. Further details...read.
My simple but very effective toolkit for walling work.
Progress is being made towards realising my proposals for the new Community Park in Tranent.
Under the project title of A Place Of No Importance? I have been preparing ideas that will have public participation as a major part of the final scheme.
Sharing personal stories & making a ‘Miners Tally’ is the way I intend engaging the public through the project. This is quite a complex commission with many different parts of the jigsaw requiring to be put in place prior to its going live. One of the first steps has seen me making a couple of prototype Tallies that will be sent off to Archibald Youngs Foundry in Kirkintilloch to be cast in bronze.
Made with air drying clay I have formed two sizes to assess which will be most suitable. I got two sample aluminium numbers made which I have used to stamp into the clay, I love the the imperfections of the prototypes the way the surface has a life of it’s own and the way the numbers have picked up the buffed-in colour. Each one will be different and show signs of their being handmade, unique to the individual who made them. I have painted the prototypes to show to the clients how the finished tallies will look.
Read the background to this exciting project at – ‘A Place Of No Importance?’
Recovering from a broken leg is not the ideal physical condition to be in at anytime, continuing with it whilst constructing a series of drystone walls some may say is just downright foolhardy! Nevertheless this is the position I find myself in as work continues on the Forfar Botanists Garden.
I am now two weeks into the project, two weeks that have proved to be tougher on my body than normal. Limping about on site has been exhausting, having rested up for the last 6 weeks it is almost as if my feet have forgotten how heavy I am! However I have found as long as I don’t push too hard and keep topping myself up with my happy pills I still appear to be making steady progress.
Working closely with the clients some exciting additions to the scheme have been agreed and further details of this project as it develops can be found on the Forfar Botanists Garden Blog page.
Though past the age where my complexion will benefit from the May Day morning dew, nevertheless the beginning of the month brought me my first early start for a long while! My leg is now well on the mend and site work is back on the agenda. Ground was broken today on ‘The Forfar Botanists Garden.’ Situated on a rectangular plot where changing rooms for the nearby sports field used to stand, the site will be the focus for my efforts over the next few weeks.
First days on site are always the worst; is everything organised, what unforeseen problems will crop up, will deliveries turn up on time, logistically they can be a nightmare. Fortuitously today couldn’t really have went much better, the sun shone, the site was cleared and the foundation trenches were dug without a hitch. Concrete gets poured tomorrow and I’m eager to start working with the 50 tonnes of stone sitting there waiting to be built into the walls for the garden. Pictured above is some of the committee lending a hand for the local press.
The tale of the Forfar Botanists is an inspirational one. Five local men, who were all born into poverty, with little formal education, all achieved lasting fame for their contributions to botany. Their love of plants and their dedication took them to the far corners of the world and the heady heights of academia.
The Friends Of The Forfar Botanists, a local charity group have raised funding to create a garden at Myre Road in their honour. Designed by Inglis Thorburn, the garden will provide a physical memorial to their work and provide a lasting legacy that will tell their story to the locals and interested visitors through planting and interpretation.
I have been appointed to construct the walling for the garden which will provide the structure for the area and to design and make a sculptural centerpiece.
Application form completed, fee submitted there is now no turning back!
After thinking about it for a long time I have finally decided to take the plunge and committed myself to taking part in this years Perthshire Open Studios.
Public Art by definition is not a studio based practice; my career has focused on designing, creating, & making work to commission, often these are constructed on site and I can be away from the studio for months at a time, very little to see back at base. Taking place between the 7th-15th September the event is little under 22 weeks away. Recent changes offer new possibilities, my aim over the next few months is to use the POS as a catalyst to exploring these in positive & productive ways.
Opening a studio, or in my case – ‘The Shed’ – necessitates making a to-do-list of things requiring attention to make the visitors experience safe, interesting, & hopefully fun, my worry at the moment is that my list contains so many items that have nothing to do with creating ‘art’ that I wonder if I’ll have anything to ultimately exhibit!
Please check back as the year progresses to see if I manage to reduce the to-do-list, fingers crossed I’ll be able to put on a display that will be worth coming to view.
10000 year old cave paintings, a boat made from old wood, Trafalgar Square, children with piles! swinging Budgies and the High Line in New York – what do all these have to do with a neglected green space in Tranent? Find out here….