Katie Anderson

Artist based in South West Scotland; interested in people, places, materials and collaborative practice.

Month: August, 2013

Environmental Arts Festival Eve

So it’s finally here – the Environmental Arts Festival kicks off tomorrow, so in case you’ve somehow missed all my repetitive reminders, Clarencefield is the place to stop by this weekend. Situated conveniently between Cinema Sark in Gretna and Glimpse near the Barony College, stop by and explore the phone box. http://www.environmentalartfestivalscotland.com/projects/voice-from-the-phone-box/ 


As ever, thank you Colin Tennant for taking much better pictures than mine!


If will also be giving an artist talk in Stormont Hall in Gretna Green tomorrow, from 4pm til 5. Phone boxes will (naturally) feature, so for some more indepth information about the project come along http://www.environmentalartfestivalscotland.com/event/artist-talk-katie-anderson-voice-from-the-phone-box/ – the hall is also the place for exhibits of Do Not Resusitate’s The Passing and the Star of Caledonia and for the first of the festival gatherings later that evening – debated lands, borders and forth will feature amongst new and traditional music. Bring it on! (The evening event is ticketed so make sure and book.)

Sifting, Ordering, Organising

I’ve been ploughing through my little collection of memories and conversations the past couple of weeks, and in sorting it, trying to impose order and a sense of direction on the whole thing – suddenly interesting things have started to happen. The same places pop up, the same knowledge but from a different hand. I’d never heard of ‘Whitewash City’ locally before, although now have heard it several times – and even more surprising, it is indeed Brydekirk, less than five minutes walk from where I currently sit! Curious-er and curious-er.

Available online here: http://www.dgttl.co.uk/index.php?a=wordsearch&s=gallery&key=Wczo1OiJBbm5hbiI7&pg=7

Whitewash City, looking remarkably unchanged since aside from the lack of vehicles. Available online here

So here is a sneak peak, a transcription of a couple of the shorter snippets stretching from Dumfries and the old Wolsey factory to the quay in Annan. Thanks to everyone who has contributed something, no matter how small or insignificant you may have felt it to be!

“It was a five day week and music while you work….that was in the Annan paper many moons – I’m talking about way back – and I thought well this is great, five day week, music while you work… aye, the music was only on half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the afternoon! and just because I was a mechanic and was on the staff, ‘you’ll have to work Saturday mornings,’ said I’m no working… ‘aye you’ll have to get paid while your off’… it was all just a con job!”

W. Anderson


“My father, my father sold feeds and fertiliser for… oh…. Tweed, eh, Tweedies? Aye, it was Tweedies. Not the Tweedies that y’ken, Dumfries, but the Tweedies they were, eh, seed merchants and things like that at Annan. And I can remember going, when I was a little boy, to the quay, and watching the fertiliser boats coming in.” “Oh really? I didn’t realise there were boats coming in as late as that..” “Aye, and they used to come in to Glencaple as well – so there you are!”

D. Turnball


“Niven’s quay, the one that’s Tommy.. Nicholson’s.. that’s known as Niven’s Quay because the company that purchased it, and owned Niven’s quay were Niven’s, em, Timber Merchants? Em, and they rented the quay out, they used to export cut timber from Niven’s quay and stuff like that rather than putting it on the roads and rail. So little boats came in, and then the boats that used to come in to take timber brought in fertiliser and all that kind of stuff.”

J. Bonner


Old view (circa 1900) of Annan Harbour available online here

Old view (circa 1900) of Annan Harbour available online here

Edinburgh Festival – ceramic handsets, they are everywhere!

I am easily distracted. May have taken a day off up to run wild round Edinburgh’s Art Festival. Conclusion: Edinburgh’s art galleries are too spread out, and it takes at least twice as long to walk anywhere because of all the other festival’s stuff going on (tripping over zombie bodies strewn across the royal mile, couldn’t find anywhere nice to eat that wasn’t already full). Actual artwork that I managed to reach (pitifully small list) included Orzco’s curious objects at the Fruitmarket (someone else with tarmac objects!!), Liversidge in the Ingleby (bit disconnected, but the marble carved gloves were beautiful) and Krjin de Koning at ECA – structured platforms installed around a collection of Eduardo Paolozzi’s work.

But look what I found!



Pandora’s Light Box is an audio guide for the visually impaired at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh created by sound artist Jung in Jung. Little ceramic cup like handsets play poetry, and visual information inspired by the galleries they are sited in. Love it! (There was also some work in a big exhibition by Nam Jun Paik, beautiful, obsessive collections of old tech but it made my head hurt – quite literally).

May be heading back again this week for a bit more exploring of the commissioned works…….


I’m not obsessed, I just like phone boxes OK?

Red phone boxes have come full circle. In their original inception, post office red – as the chosen colour for the boxes was considered a blot on rural landscapes and some were painted grey/green in an attempt to merge them into their surroundings.


All credit goes to Colin Tennant for his fab photography


Since then, over 70,000 K6 boxes (the more recognisable model http://www.the-telephone-box.co.uk/kiosks/k6/) were introduced by 1968 and somewhere along the line they gravitated to an iconic symbol of a time in passing – as nostalgia grows.


Phone boxes have once again become a blot of the landscape; crumbling, forgotten as technology has overtaken them at great speeds.


Gradually they are now vanishing (and this vanishing is perhaps gathering momentum http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22861389), and local communities are taking it upon themselves to rescue


cling to what has become a cultural artefact of our age.

Then what? Having preserved a slice of history is one thing, but an obsolete object – it’s function ripped out, a hollow shell, it is functionality that keeps these objects from becoming buried in the undergrowth.


Re-entering these forgotten spaces is a strange experience. Pulling back the weeds, cautiously aware of the old doors – could the whole structure keel over at any moment? Brushing years of cobwebs and stoor aside

And then


a muffled silence


As the weight of the door closes behind. Enclosed, encased – but all the while peering out of grimy windows.

Absent mindedly checking the handset for the tone informing me that after all this time it is still wired in…


For the EAFS weekend, a temporary work will attempt to explore alternative uses for Clarencefield’s phone box. Lovingly rescued after the loss of the Ruthwell box, the work is a tester, an experiment, an exploration of the phone boxes original purpose – communication.


Latitude 55.00505 Longitude -3.42246


Reflecting over one shoulder, looking forward over the other

WASPS has been amazing

The insight and enthusiasm shared by the other artists

The encouragement that has surrounded me for 12 months

The opportunities that have opened up around me

The breathing space it has allowed me – to stretch, to test, to push at boundaries, to find the makings of a path

Thank you to everyone who has helped out along the way the last year (stovies included!), thanks to the WASPS studios and to the Holywood Trust for their support – I couldn’t have had a better start!


Bouncy ball amongst the seaweed

But now it is time to look ahead, to keep on towards the horizon, seek out new challenges and find new boundaries to test. The excitement doesn’t stop here!

It is time to right the life-petrol balance in my work, as my studio becomes my home and my home becomes my studio, the life-art practise boundaries need broken down and melded together. Although this blog was set out to document my year long residency in Kirkcudbright the decision came somewhat subconsciously without consideration to continue to update regularly with the happenings of my studio practise, wherever it may be – stay tuned!