Art Making Art Thinking

Making art - ideas from anytime and anyplace

Tag: Cargill’s Bistro

Super Moon – What would Galileo think?

a week on from the blood blue super full moon and  snow has fallen deep and soft in the night everything hidden and lying beneath this all resting against each other randomly it is not dry small flakes it is large wet flakes in clumps on the branches of trees and houses  the sky is blue grey no stars or moon this morning dark no hint of the sun rising behind the sidlaws to the south no robin sings toward the dawn no wind

I can play with our northern dog outside in her element where she would rather be all the time

I have been wondering what all the great thinkers of the past would make of our world now, what they may have achieved with the resources we have at their fingertips, does ease of access to our technologies for some of our societies make us intellectually lazy, does lack of access mean people think harder to solve problems or do they become worn down by life’s inequalities? Galileo’s life was intellectually hard, his support and enhancement of Copernicus’ theory was challenged and threatened by the Roman Catholic Church and his reasoned analysis of the Earth’s place in the Solar System meant imprisonment, yet he kept working and eventually was able to come home near the end of his life. Sometime in the early years of this century I looked at Galileo’s drawings of the phases of the Moon with close attention and seriously thought, for the first time, about what was actually involved in his process of moving his gaze through the telescope (the lenses ground by himself) at the Moon and recording what he saw when he drew the Moon. The drawings were published them in his book The Sidereal Messenger (1610), I had seen them before but I had not previously fully considered what these drawings actually are and what they meant for society then.

This thinking about thought is cyclical, like the Moon it moves out of sight then returns when I see or read something which reminds me, in this case the BBC’s programme about the Moon scheduled to take place on the same night (31 March 2018) as a Super Moon. What moved me was not only the images of the Moon, it was those of peoples’ reaction to this natural event, their excitement showed in the way they moved, how they spoke. . . all these people all around the world responding . . . this is as beautiful as the Moon itself. Throughout the programme the camera kept returning to an artwork made of the Moon and showing audiences’ reactions when they encountered it. Although this moon was not real people who came to see reacted in the same way as they would to the real one. The artist was not credited during the programme, I waited for the end credits to confirm who I thought it was. I have not seen the artwork itself, a Radio 4 programme had caught my interest and I was pleased to see that this moon looked like my imagining. The artist is Luke Jerram, have a look at his work on his website.

I think Galileo would have liked Luke’s Moon, and I think he would have liked all the technology  we use now to see the Moon, technology which can be traced back to him grinding lenses for his telescope so that he could look at the Moon. If you want to read about his life and its complexities then Dava Sobel’s (2009) book of his life is fascinating.

For the rest of February and into March I am BUSY. Writing my Final Research report for Creative Scotland and sorting out from the project what I’m going to show at Platform 2018, Culture Perth and Kinross’s yearly festival of the arts. http://www.culturepk.org.uk/

 

 

The North Wind Doth Blow – River Ericht in January 2018

New Year January 2018

I am listening to Moving Pictures an occasional dip into radio art documentaries I take when I’m preparing to write. I find people talking about other artists’ works brings me gently to a frame of mind where I can write because I do find writing difficult.  ‘A flower picture’ by Rachel Ruysch is in the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington and the accompanying discussion about her eye for detail demonstrated by her painting strikes an echo in my mind about my own work. The smallest detail of my surroundings fascinates me – whether looking down the lens of a microscope at soil or up to the stars with a telescope. It’s the same with listening, feeling or thinking. Sometimes I feel it’s not possible to think more deeply and then find after a while that my understanding has moved on by a fraction and then make art work which I could not have before. The works themselves are circular and iterative, no one else would notice any difference except me. The questions are constant and still shout at me . . . however many new things I find there are still more . . .and more . . . and I understand that this searching will continue for the rest of my life and that the new things are not new. It is the way I see them which changes.

Listen to the radio programme.

To go back to January 2017, to look at the beginning of this research project into the River Ericht here in Blairgowrie is like looking at the parts from a jigsaw . . . each piece a fragment of thought, a new person, a landscape (familiar then unfamiliar), a tree, a plant, a rock, a building, a story, water, air and interlinked in a way I cannot find. I think I will start here, at the end where I don’t know what I have, in January 2018 and go back to the beginning in January 2017. I began with thinking about water, its flow and changing nature and I end with think about air, its flow and its changing nature.

These three pencil drawings, the first this year, are thought drawings considering turbulence and how we move through space and time. They are not scientific drawings, they are personal reflections. This weekend I will take them down to Edinburgh and hopefully sell them in the SSA/VAS Open 2018

An interlude – continuing reflection on practice – a post with no images

In my thesis (2006)[1] I examined the idea that creative practice for most artists (from any art) could not be easily separated from everyday life.

Arguably everyday life for everyone requires imagination and memory as well as thinking . . .

about what is around them now . . .

about what has been around them in the past . . .

and about what will be around them in the future.

When I think about what that involves for us . . . for all of us . . . all the time . . . I am still astounded by the existence of consciousness and its complexity.

Essentially consciousness is one of the most beautiful things in our world, it results in seemingly unlimited ways of structuring and restructuring and enhancing our lives and here’s the but, those enhancements are subject to different belief systems within individuals, society’s and cultures which themselves are the products of ‘creative’ thinking.

What brought on this reflective burst of thought? Three things in particular . . .

Firstly – last week I was at the Christmas meeting of the Perthshire Care and Well-being Co-operative and we spoke about the importance of providing different kinds of care for the increasing numbers of people experiencing problems with their emotional and mental health. The shared consensus was that increased pervasiveness of technology was exposing people of all age groups to unrealistic expectations of themselves and how they should ‘be’, revisiting the perennial question . . . what makes a successful and meaningful life?

Secondly – Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Enough said.

Thirdly – the article in the Blairgowrie Advertiser early in December informing the readership that the old Hill Primary school in the town centre had been sold by Perth and Kinross Council for the grand sum of £1. Yes, SOLD FOR £1!!! To Corryard Contractor and Developer, Crieff. This was only found out after a freedom of information request was put in to the council. The request was put in because of confusion in Blairgowrie about why the council would prefer to choose a private development bid over one from The Ericht Trust. The Ericht Trust had spent a significant amount of time putting together a proposal for a local community centre for the benefit of Blairgowrie. Finding out that the old school had been purchased for £1 is an indication that central amenities for the local community are not a priority for Perth and Kinross Council. Dream Homes are a priority though. Enough said again. (Interestingly I could not find anything on the Blairgowrie Advertiser’s Facebook page about this, or on the online page of the  Daily Record’s  which owns the Advertiser

I am unable to make art which overtly engages with these issues, I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because I feel that I cannot do justice to the seriousness of these events although all of this does influence my thinking and therefore, indirectly, my art.

 

[1] Stackhouse, Aileen M (2006)Trahere; the sense of unease in making a mark – the practice of drawing and the practice of thinking. University of Dundee

Art Times . . . I live Here . . . and I am out of my Studio

I spend so much of the time inside my studio and undoubtedly I sometimes use it as a refuge from the noise of our world. Most of us have hiding places from everyday demands and routines of work and it is uncomfortable to recognise that my own refuge is actually my work. My research project into the River Ericht has brought many personal challenges, not least meeting other people and clearly explaining what I am doing. The art of communication is precisely that, an art, and because much of my time is spent alone communicating with other people holds many complex layers and potential for misunderstanding.

There are so many people I have met in my work about the River Ericht since February and I am struck again by how genuinely giving and constructive they are with their memories and knowledge. Ideas for possible artworks are beginning to form and I have shared two or three of these with closer acquaintances,

And there is so much to do, the amount of relevant information I have already gathered is varied and vast. At the beginning of June I was introduced to The Blethers group in Blairgowrie and look forward  to going along and listening to more recollections in July. Last Thursday (14th June) I listenned to a talk in the Cateran Cafe given by Paul Adair (Perth Museum and Art Gallery) on the Laing Photographic Collection given to the archives by  D.Wilson Laing Photographers after they closed in Blairgowrie around 1993. The collection has been chosen by Cateran’s Common Wealth as part of the A Story of the Cateran Trail in 100 Objects exhibition which opens on 1st July in Alyth Museum. It was fascinating because portraits of our own children in 1992 (too recent for the purposes of the talk) were taken in the studio which was shown on the first slide and although I did not know any of the people in the photographs I recognised many of the locations. The extensive collection will soon be available to view online.

This weekend BRAN volunteers tidied up the grass and litter along the banks of the Riverside, this is hard work especially because PKC does not have the budget to commit to maintaining this resource. There are plenty of bins along the path and I don’t understand why people don’t use them, this is such a beautiful place for visitors to Blairgowrie and people who live here to relax and enjoy AND it’s only five minutes from the town centre AND Cargill’s Bistro‘s excellent scones OR Wellmeadow Cafe‘s tasty pancakes. Clare Damodaran from the Blairgowrie Advertiser came down and took some pictures of us before we all got messy and then interviewed Brian Smith, Graham Reid and myself about the Riverside Venture Group which I joined in April. Brian and Graham are working hard to rejuvenate the Riverside as an essential place to visit in Scotland given the town’s wealth of social and cultural history – they will welcome any ideas and people willing to get involved.

On Sunday I went along to the third of Leila Mayne’s Plant Study Walks along the Ericht and the first thing I saw on the freshly cut grass was a large empty plastic Co-op bag and various empty sandwich cartons and silver foil. ANYWAY!! Leila  knows so much about aspects of our relationship with our environment that Hazel and I become mentally stunned with her weight of knowledge. We learned about the health giving properties of  two types of Plantain, Plantago Lanceolata and Plantain- Plantaginaceae. Brilliant! Not only because I am learning about so many new plant properties but also because I get to spend most of the day outside by the River. It was an absolutely beautiful day.

On Saturday 24th I will be at Blairgowrie’s Community Market in the ABC tent should anyone want to come and see me drawing my surroundings in the Wellmeadow. And, if you would like to try outdoor drawing with me, then my July workshops are on the 21st and 22nd July, book on https://www.aileenmstackhouse.co.uk/courses.html   seven maximum – minimum four.

 

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