Katie Anderson

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

Month: September, 2013

Voices arrives in Wigtown


Causeway End phone box is highly distinguishable by it’s white door frame (a recent replacement by the community council when the box was taken over). Push the rock to one side to enter, but please replace it upon leaving, lest the door bangs in the wind.

Wigtown Book Festival is underway – it arrived in a flurry – the tents have gone up, the shops have been stocked, the potholes have been filled (yes, seriously) and Astrid Jaekel’s work has transformed the windows of the County Buildings, to much admiration. The car parking is ridiculous to the point of hilarity, Reading Lasses is full, and suddenly reading books on street corners is terribly trendy.

After my own whirlwind of a week (leaving a trail of destruction behind) – Voices from the Phone Box has been reinstated. Originally a commission for the Environmental Arts Festival, the project – part audio collection, part sculptural installation – is taking residence in two phone boxes; Bladnoch a working box next to the distillery, and Causeway End – owned by Newton Stewart Community Council and located on the road from Wigtown back to the A75. There is also an exchange point for the two boxes located within the sci-fi portal that is the Time Machine, a separate installation created by Norrie, Christian and a hard working team in the County Buildings.

Running 24/7 (theoretically) the work plays out conversations with local residents from bone china telephone handsets.
Find out more about the Book Festival’s visual arts goings ons here

The Bladnoch box is strangely magical – and also, a working box! So well worth an explore…

Pause for a moment, and listen.

“I Belong 
Wigtown. Port William. Whithorn. Newton Stewart. Sorbie. Mochrum. Elrig. Windy Hill.  Garlieston. Isle of Whithorn. 

Bearded Ham. Something primal. Traffic Lights. Invisible people. Hairdressers. I was ay’ wantin t be a l’rry driver. Mountains of Mourne. 

The flying butcher. Magic Hour. The kindness of folk.  There was always plenty o’ work. It’s all gone no’. BOS 648. Still living in the past here. A modern life. I never even knew Whithorn existed… 

I’ll never be a local.”


Enter the Time Machine and prepare to look in unexpected places. If you are interested, it’s called a Dictograph.

Thank you to everyone who has given me some time in the past few weeks to contribute a voice for the work, without you it would be meaningless.

Nithraid – Banners

It was something of a sensational day yesterday down on the Nith with the Stovies. The sunshine we craved may not have appeared, but the crowds came anyways. 14 boats left Carsethorn, and all but two made it to the finishing post – and to the site of the salt cows final resting place. Meanwhile, parades gathered force through the streets of Dumfries lead by a feverish Samba band, and banners unfurled off the Devorgilla bridge and down over the caul. Banner themed images reflect the end of the project I’ve had the most involvement in.









It has been nothing short of epic. An amazing congratulations to all organisers and those involved!



Keep up with the Stove by blog, webpage, facebook or twitter 


Off to Wigtown…

And a quick post for today – for those of you book lovers, the Wigtown Book Festival begins next Friday 27th September and runs for ten days until the 6th of October. I am told to expect Wigtown to transform from peaceful, sleepy town to happening cultural centre – it’s an opportunity to meet the people behind the books, find new and unexpected treasures and … catch up with some phone boxes. 


Voices from the Phone Box is on the move, and will be unpacking in Wigtown at the end of this week. Unexpected sites in and around Wigtown will become the home for my ceramic handsets for the course of the festival, so keep your eyes (and ears) open. 

Start off in the County Buildings – and curious folk near the Bladnoch distillery should be sure and keep an eye out for a particularly nice telephone box.

It’s all stations are go this week – but for more details on the Book festival, and to see some of the other visual artists working as part of the festival be sure and check out the webpage: http://www.wigtownbookfestival.com/around-the-festival/visual-art

From Powfoot to Yorkshire then Skibbereen and back again

EAFS rocked up last weekend in Annandale and Eskdale – about as local as it get’s for me, and then to face the embarrassment that I actually didn’t make it to much, I blame fatigue after a week of madness and encroaching panic as the inevitability of the next projects started to wash up. However, I did make it to the Tidemarks reading at Powfoot Golf Hotel. On the one hand, it was really quite strange seeing art-people in what to me is a non-art space, I ride with one of my furry four-legged animals out at Powfoot a lot, so for me it is a somehow seperate space – but it was also quite interesting to hear how everyone else sees the stretch out at Queensberry Bay and the rough stony beach up below the Broom. Image

I was brought up with the knowledge that the Solway was a dangerous place, there are strong undercurrents, fast moving tides, dangerous sands – an inhospitable place really – and as such only ventured out onto safe areas when the tide was at it’s lowest. That has been gradually changing over the past couple of years, wading in the shallows as the tide comes in, exploring the fringes of the environment have increased as familiarity gave me (perhaps too much?) confidence. The flatness, the sense of scale is fantastic when you get out into it – it feels infinite. The light is beautiful at various times of the day and various weathers – it is both more wild and more calm out on the flats than it is on the shoreline. But I have already gone off on a tangent – Tidemark provided a creative writing platform for a mix of writers, both ‘independants’ and from various groups to come together, workshop a space and create individual responses – that actually came to feel like a collective voice. 24 voices contributed to the overall flavour. It was reflective, both natures impact on us and our impact on it. Image

Afterwards found me back outside following what had clearly been one of those beautiful evening skies as darkness encroached. I’m rarely down by the shore in the dark. It has been interesting how the festival has gotten even locals looking at their environments from new lights (in my case literally) and new perspectives, and has endlessly surprised those less local with our regions beauty. I’ve heard a lot of pride for our place over the course of the festival. 

It set me thinking. Talking as we were about geology at one point and the history of the place, and our horses field being so sandy when it is dry, due to it’s previous life so close to the Solway, and it’s dune-like hills. Lying on the top of the hill watching the sun set from a new perspective reminded me of writings about the phenomena written about by James Turrell and Antoine de Saint-Exupery about the sky appearing as a vaulted ceiling (the exact name for this has vanished). From that slight convex position I could completely understand what they meant. My dear ponies nearly had a heart attack though, it seems they are not used to people lying about in their field. ImageTurrell always pops up from time to time in my thinking, and this time may have something to do with my visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last month. I was really excited to see Deerspace, on account of his works being hard to come by, but hadn’t accounted for the place being full of noisy children with crisp packets (note to everyone – stay well clear of that place on public holidays) so the appreciation for the space was somewhat lost in the pandemonium. However in some ways his work just set me up for ‘looking’ [what do I mean by ‘looking’ – more than just looking] at the space – his work was a viewfinder but once I had found the right focus could see without. His Skygarden work in Skibbereen – which was in the process of renovation when I visited – seemed to encapsulate my experience on top of the hill inspired by poets, he set up the structures for looking, the EAFS events set up something similar – less concrete perhaps, although Dalziel and Scullion’s Rosnes Benches surely must be on the same – structures for looking. Matthew Dalziel spoke at one of the events of his work being as the surfboard is when connecting with the waves.

I think we all understand. It’s just a shame all I can manage is garbled ramblings tonight… 

There’s only one way to properly cheer me up these days… take me to a phone box…

Site visit to Wigtown this week. It was a bit of a blur. If I’m honest I spent most of the morning trotting after Adrian (the book festival organiser), carrying half a mug of coffee around the town – it was probably the best way to get introduced to the sort of essence of what will be the festival in a few weeks time. I managed to fit in a few phone boxes too. Bladnoch – now also known as the BEST phone box I have seen in an Aaagee. I’m in love. And Causeway End – about the most rurally sited phone box I have found on more recent explorations locally. The door is held shut with a big round stone, the poster inside informs anyone who notices that it too has been snatched up by the community council before it could be spirited away by BT. But, I don’t want to give to much away – needless to say, I’m much more excited about my project’s relocation to Wigtown for ten days as part of the annual Wigtown Book Festival (if you haven’t heard of it you really probably should have done…) There is plenty of work to be done! DSC_0978






Causeway End Box - in the process of a loving restoration, note the new door!

Causeway End Box – in the process of a loving restoration, note the new door!

A few thank yous

Mum (Artist Assistant, part time courier, kitchen table publisher). Matt. Leah. Jan. (Thank you all for an amazing opportunity – I hope I made the most of it (sorry about the artist’s talk thing – thanks for being the first one). Tonia. (the calm front when the police show up). Susan and John Gilbert. Joan Dodd and the other members of the Clarencefield Community Council. The open minded, friendly faced inhabitants of Clarencefield – an amazing wee village. Rob Airley: electrical genius. The Voices: Dave. Anne. Lesley. John. Paula. Ruth. Graeme. Eileen. Will. Everyone who turned up at Stormont Hall and showed both kindness and patience when I hit a sheer wall of panic. Thanks for not walking out. Friends, family, Stovies, locals, EAFS trekkers, Suvi from Finland (long distance award) who trekked to Clarencefield to stand in an old phone box and listen. Anyone who has emailed me a photo of a phone box or related information in the past six months. All I’m missing now is the phone box collection in the back garden…


Digital Spring Cleaning

I think I need to spend more of my spare time editing photographs – it final reached bursting point, have spent the whole day tidying up. 



Check out my superby tidy Flickr account to prove the point 



It’s been an intense week. 

Out of that intensity is slowly emerging clarity.

OBJECT. My obsessions centre on an intimate exploration of objects. To truly know an object, to create that familiarity that only comes with time.

SITE. Without site the object is homeless. This is a re-connecting, a re-using, a re-examining. RE- (this prefix will appear more frequently than ever in this blog in the near future)

MEMORY. This informs the object. Informs the intimate, the curiosity. 


Some of the highlights in Clarencefield:-

Joan Dodd. She sits on the local community council. She couldn’t have lived it down if folk had turned up from out of the village to see an untidy phone box. She also keeps the bus shelter (on her patch). From her concern about the phone box’s fading paint – over the weekend an appreciation for the peeling paint emerged, as a representation of the dying object. She didn’t think environmental art was for her until she came to know the phone box project.

Two ladies recounted their experience to Fiona (the fantastic volunteer) of both squashing into the box together and laughing at memories gone by of their times as girls squashed into phone boxes.

To Suvi goes my utmost thanks. Having travelled from Finland to witness the Festival, on her last morning she caught the various public transport required to drop her in Clarencefield, in a short gap before the return journey. It was great speaking to someone with a similar passion.


The Longest Queue in Clarencefield

The longest queue in Clarencefield. I have since heard rumour of other, shorter queues throughout the weekend. Someone waiting behind my granny in the dampening weather on Friday gave up eventually (my apologies), but to all 11 of you in that queue on Friday – thank you for your patience! 

If you didn’t catch it at Clarencefield (you may be off my Christmas card list) – there will still be a chance to catch the next evolution of the project as part of the Wigtown Book Festival at the end of next month – just enough time to get organised!


Is there a critic in the house? My repost from the Commonty

Here’s a first; thought I’d repost my commonty blog on here and attempt to merge my two blogging styles and personas somewhat more
It’s been a bit quiet on the commonty this weekend – largely because everyone was outside – absorbed by the environmental arts festival, and so I thought on offering up some reflections on a long weekend saturated with amazing art, discussions, explorations, journeys (both literal and metaphorical perhaps?!) and discoveries.

We would welcome reviews etc on the things you may have witnessed over the course of the last four days – what were your highlights (both artistic and otherwise)? – but in the meantime I would like to offer up a few initial reflections of my own – and others – gathered along the way.

Cinema Sark – John Wallace and Prof. Pete Smith – image nabbed from Twitter @LizzieDinnie

‘ How does place archive memory, how does memory archive place?’ Robert MacFarlane as quoted by David Borthwick in a shed in Cairnsmore. (As part of some of the great discussions held over the festival)

About looking. Art in the environment as a catalyst for looking at the environment (especially when you can’t find the art, but can find lots of beautiful land/scape) as suggested by Will Levi Marshall whilst on top of the wrong hill on Sunday. (It was a fantastic wrong hill though)

‘The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.’ RD Laing as quoted by Mike Bonaventura – on the scope and potential of environmental art discussed in the Robert Burns Centre last night.

James Winnett’s Fountain – as photographed by festival photographer Colin Hattersley

In some ways, part of the journey to these works became an extension of the work itself. The more out-of-the-way sites had a sense of pilgrimage.

There was a great sense of a collective sharing of the festival experience. I left all the discussions with more questions. There is a lot more to be understood. 

Perhaps we may not be able to change the whole world – but possibly out little impacts on a small scale – our ‘operating in the cracks between over-government’ still give us the potential for change (following on the climate change conversations in Stormont Hall).

As a participating artist – the positivity, the keen and the curious nature of folk and the welcoing attitude of festival organisers, contributors, audience members, visitors and the community/inhabitants was truly inspiring.

D&G has not just the potential but the capability to produce a festival on a par with the more art central regions – ‘be part of something amazing’ – so contributions are invited ‘if we don’t send messages, they won’t be recieved’ (thanks for that one Ted Leeming) and apologies for anyone mis-quoted or incorrectly paraphrased – it’s been a long few days!

Queues outside a phonebox – who’d have thought? Thanks to everyone who visited Clarencefield this weekend