Art Making Art Thinking

Making art - ideas from anytime and anyplace


on foot

coiseachd – walking

walking is a time when I am thinking



The three days passed quickly here in Helmsdale and yet again my perception of time is demonstrably paradoxical. Sometimes I heard the Clock memorial striking the hour and sometimes hours went by without me noticing anything except the cold drops of water falling onto my head from the Ice house ceiling. When they landed on the stone flagged floor their impact echoed back up through the air and their meeting point with the ground did not seem to be the source of the sound. Rather it appeared to be suspended in the air. The Ice house is a complex space to make art within and this work The Silence of the Moon contained too many elements for the observer to negotiate. As with other drawing installations I have made (How long is now? 2009 and How can this be done differently? 2007)I don’t know whether this is because I am frequently interrupted and asked about the ideas driving it while I am in the process of making it. Such questions are challenging and bring to mind discussions I have heard over many years about the detail with which artists are expected to explain their work. I think of the many things I could buy and use where I do not expect to know how they work and would not understand the processes anyway. This non-understanding does not inhibit my pleasure in their use. Things I know how to use but do not have a Scooby about how they work include the following; cars, trains, washing machines, computers and televisions. I am also confused by the constant need for artists to create something new, something ‘not like’ (“I’ve seen stuff like that before, I don’t want that” is a frequent one) to the extent that the deep thinking and hard work which goes into making work is jettisoned – especially when funds are short.

How much does a new car cost? I don’t know, I’ve never been able to afford one. I know they all basically look the same though and do the same job, their wheels take me from A to B and act as an extra room. .

Back to the work – I have drawn in the dark before and those drawings have always ended up being seen in the light of day. This drawing though will never see the light of day. It will slowly be washed away by the water dripping down the walls and its charcoal will seep into the crevices between the stone floor and down into the earth. The drawing is of the River Helmsdale rising and falling with the tide, with the pull of the moon. The stone walls are difficult to draw on as they are either wet or crumbling. The chalk and charcoal slip and crack between my fingers, my nails break and become ingrained with dust. The River drawing climbs towards the arched ceiling at the back and then ebbs down back to the door. Sometimes parts of the room are so dark I cannot judge the distance and the surface feels porous, spongy – as though the marks are made within the walls. I am amazed again at the people who drew in caves years ago, at their determination to make marks that describe their world.