Sometimes life becomes so crammed with activity that it accelerates exponentially and keeping abreast of everything is impossible, some stuff is left behind as flotsam and jetsam in its wake. Time becomes almost meaningless as a marker of its passage, there is simply before and after.

Questions for self about making art ( iterations and reiterations )

Too many questions for self about making – Why did I make this? What is this artwork? Where did it come from? When did it begin? What will it become through time? Where will it go through time?

Who am I while I make this artwork/any artwork? At points throughout it’s becoming it seems that I cease to exist as an individual and am a process, or rather, I am conscious of self then I am not conscious of self, a light that switches on and off, a tide that ebbs and flows, a day, a night, asleep, awake and so on. This process means that others’ ideas of who I am sound louder than my own silence and my unwillingness to make a sound, a mark, that fixes me in time or place. The meaning of this ‘Aileen’ shifts on through time . . . do I create myself as I go along? Everything I do and think influences the evolution of the work and I am reluctant to say ‘this is finished’ therefore all works are in progress and I am a work-in-progress.

From the beginning of February until the end of March I have been busy with Platform 2018 which opened on 24 March and ends on 31 March. Of course it will not be an ending because everything which has happened will start another wave of thinking. Here in Blairgowrie I have work showing selected from my research project ‘Exploring the River Ericht’ funded by Creative Scotland, documentation and photographs in the local library and in Cargill’s Restaurant and Bistro ‘Water works’ –   experiments in painting. The coracle that Jane Wilkinson instructed me how to weave with my son last summer was moored in the Ericht by Piotr Gudan for the week of the festival and then moved to the library and set down gently next to my documentations. Our Heritage, a local community group took over the library for the Easter weekend to mount an exhibition of local archive material and were keen that the coracle be a part.  (Interestingly  when I followed the link for Platform 2018 on Culture Perth and Kinross website all the information about platform had been taken down.)

For a week during the festival I drew for one hour each day along the Ericht’s riverbank in the sun, the rain, the cold and each day the water renewed its fascination for me. I never tire of watching its waves and ripples, eddies and currents, the changing levels, listening to the water’s sounds and the sounds of the world around, I do not tire of feeling the air the water brings against my skin, I do not tire of the scents that change along its course . . . Thursday 29 brought conversation in the person of Jim Mackintosh, Platform’s Poet in residence. Jim has been travelling around Perthshire visiting the many artists, musicians, playwrights taking part in the festival. Conversation is good when it brings someone else’s  mind to the contemplation of the natural world. We spoke about part of his childhood being spent in Blairgowrie, catching salmon, apples, berries, schools, Hamish Henderson and Nan Shepherd. I enjoy listening to the sound of voices, I enjoy words and I enjoy reading and when I listen to people talking about works I have read myself then I pay more attention, my mind does not slip away perhaps because the knowledge is being shared by a person I see, hear and occupy the same space as. Jim read from his collection The Rubicon of Ash and when he described what he was trying to communicate I wondered if every day we all cross our own  Rubicon.

(Taking notes is best if I draw the person talking, each stroke holds a sound of a voice, a sound of a voice holds the meaning of what the voice is thinking.)

And now it is the end of March/beginning of April, everything always rushes towards me, surrounds me and then passes and everything I have written since the 9th has been to do with writing proposals, filling forms, signing contracts, contacting people, designing posters, printing posters, printing them again, getting works ready and it all forms a giant ball exerting a strange gravity as it orbits within my mind. The idea of orbiting helps as it is elliptical and I know that its character of moving beyond reach and then returning to certain points will occur at the right time, to the actual date. I am organising according to another time and not my own, these deadlines are not movable which means I do stop making rather than adding just a little bit more . . .

Stand outs

reading so far this year; revisiting Nan Shepherd; The Living Mountain.

Kyo Maclear; Birds, art, life, death: a field guide to the small and insignificant.

Wohlleben, Peter; The hidden life of trees, what they feel, how they communicate: discoveries from a secret world.


Lee Lozano at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

Jenny Saville and Christine Borland at National Galleries Scotland  Modern One