Preparing for the Show August 2013

It seems like an age since the Fabric of the Land project at St Machar Academy came to an end since then I have been working between Aberdeen and my studio, in Glasgow, on the work that will be shown in final show. I have created a linked blog, Fabric Of the Land August 2013, that will chart my work, the process and thoughts that informed the work. up until and including the final show.

final exhibition


We have come to the end of the joint project with St Machar’s Academy with a brilliant exhibition in the Sir Duncan Rice library of the University of Aberdeen. It is a lovely way to conclude the project- most of the pupils were able to come along together with parents and the sponsors to look at the exhibition and enjoy a chat and some refreshments.

The Sir Duncan Rice library sits diagonally across from St Machar’s Academy, and I hope that the Fabric of the Land project has not only fostered a bridge between the arts and sciences but also between these two educational institutions, which I feel is another unique and poignant aspect of this show.

Congratulations to the pupils of St Machar’s Academy on their work – the diversity and quality of the work speaks both of the success of the project and also of the huge reservoir of talent and enthusiasm in our young people and hopefully the pupils will use the opportunity to make further connections to the arts and geology during their education and beyond.

I would also hope that this pilot project will have set the foundations for future schools projects to come within the frame work of fabric of the land.

Should you have missed this exhibition then there will be another opportunity to see the work from August 23-September 13 2013. If you find the time have a look -you will not be disappointed.

Many thanks to smART consultants and the university of Aberdeen, dana petroleum and arts&business Scotland, St Machar Academy and Aberdeen city council.

It is now time for me to move on and focus on my site-specific work as the artist in residence of Fabric of the Land 2013. The final show will open on the 23rd of August 2013. I hope to see you all there again.

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Week Five – At The Printing Workshop

Finally we visited Peacock Visual Art’s printing workshop. With the support of collaborative master printmaker Michael Waight and myself the pupils translated their original sketches and designs into monoprints.  The results are as diverse and intriguing as the variety of techniques that were used during these two days. My only regret was that we did not have more time to continue and expand our knowledge for a further day or two.

The prints created will be curated by the pupils and exhibited 2nd – 6th July 2013 in the Sir Duncan Rice Library at the University of Aberdeen, as well as during Fabric of the Land 2013, from 24th August – 13th September in the Geology Department at the University.

Welcome to the workshop…..



Rock formations at the beach…..   IMG_4826

A gallery of prints & photographs from the two days:

Reflection at Half Time

Having almost reached the half way point for my time at St Machar Academy I feel this is a good point for some reflection on the process and practice of the residency so far.

As an artist I work mainly with found objects.  As such I spend many hours on research and whilst collecting information and materials new strands and connections, within a given theme, emerge as I work and this in turn produces new narratives, narratives that will eventually define the final work.  Working in this way demands, of the practitioner, considerable focus, yet depends on an impartial and impressionable mind to make way for and facilitate new ways of seeing.

When I had initially applied for this post I was particularly excited at the prospect of working collaboratively with professional scientists, teachers and young people.  The cross pollination between different professional disciplines and differing perspectives is a rich and challenging environment and working with young people is both as rewarding as it is demanding, as it requires a great deal of flexibility and enthusiasm – both of which suit my personality.

However, on the first day at St Machar Academy I was greeted with the wholly unexpected and unanticipated issue for me of working with a large group of young students who initially had a distinct apprehension of letting themselves go, artistically.  Whilst there is undoubtedly great potential within the group, as you will see from the gallery, there was also noticeable reluctance about moving away from the safety and security of form and convention and committing to paper what they see rather than what they know.

The emphasis of this project lies in the process of research based work. It requires a great deal of initiative from the student to draw connections within the given theme, translate observations into art and experiment with a variety of materials. My role as the artist in residence is as I see it to help encourage and support this process.

As the Fabric of the Land project continues to unfold the students are slowly adapting to what for them is perhaps a new concept of working. I feel that the field trips have been particularly beneficial in that they help unlock the potential of each student, as they provide a refreshing and stimulating working environment away from the physical and behavioral conventions of everyday school life.

So far the journey has been interesting and the process of facilitating other perspectives and ways of working with this group has been both exciting and challenging. I am looking forward to the second half of this school’s project, in particular the visit to the printing workshop, which will culminate in an exhibition on the 3rd of July at the Sir Duncan Rice Library at the University of Aberdeen, consisting of a wide and varied range of pupils’ work.

Week Four – Landscapes

Inspired by the trip to Stonehaven the pupils were asked to create their own abstract landscapes, incorporating various aspects of geology and using a range of media- a good preparation for the printing studio next week.

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Looking back through their sketchbooks, some pupils included their favourite places…

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Others experimented with chalk pastels.

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Week Four – Field Trip to Stonehaven

Following our afternoon looking at the rock cycle, we had a wonderful morning on Tuesday – our trip to Stonehaven was a great success. In collaboration with St Machar Academy Dana Petroleum had organised an excellent field trip to look at the Highland Fault near Stonehaven. The pupils were able to ask the geologists  questions about  the landscape, different rock formations, tectonic forces and much more.

A field guide- written by Dana geologists, alongside hand lenses, were brilliant tools to explore and understand the surrounding landscape and the trip made a really tangible connection between the arts and the geological aspects of the residency.

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Photographs of Cowie beach near Stonehaven taken by the pupils of St Machar Academy.

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Alice and Jo, geologists from Dana Petroleum, giving brief demonstrations to the pupils.

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Future geologists at work…..

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More interesting rock formations:

Ice Cream!