Katie Anderson

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

Month: February, 2019

Artist Residency: Cove Park 1

Day One:        Settling and Acclimatising

Adjusting to the general shock of arriving in a place so beautiful and not nearly as remote as you might think.
The soundtrack is provided by frogs.

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Day Two:        The Light Fittings are Shaking

Ok, that only happened once. But clearly Sound Horn prefers to be out of doors. The studio is beginning to sing. The frogs are still accompanying.

The guy on the Ableton tutorial videos is my new best friend. I may need to credit him in the final work. The scale of hardware and software issues combined is becoming more apparent.

I walk down to the shoreline and listen. Aware that I’m growing a new awareness for the sonic environment around me. Everything hums, everything makes noise. The rural is layered by sounds of traffic, boats, cars, farm vehicles, occasional overhead planes.

First steps feel tentative and cautious.

The nearest internet spot is at the top of the hill, so I begin a route between the cube for snacks, kettle breaks and frog watching, the internet at the top of the hill for advice and more tutorials, the studio to test the advice and find new questions to head back up the hill with.

The walking balances out my screen time, I hope.

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The view from my studio window, no really!

Day Three:     Screen Time

Beginning to sketch out ideas to push the abilities of the sound in the piece, using the installation to create, hide and share the surrounding environment. As a physical-maker/sculptor – my role in this digital world is a slightly less obvious one, as I navigate slowly and awkwardly towards an ephemeral goal.

Step beyond my own fear and start to record my voice. And listen to it. Over and over until it slowly stops being mine. This cycle is starting to feel a bit witchy, and I am inspired by both an earlier vocal workshop with Hannah Tuulikki at the end of last year, and the incredible installation Tremble Tremble by Irish artist Jesse Jones, that I was fortunate to catch at the Talbot Rice.

In the evenings, the other Cryptic artists are beginning to congregate at the top of the hill. The advantage of a large kitchen, well stocked library and the lure of the internet pulls strong. There are some exciting projects emerging from the various spaces around Cove Park!

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Scotland, in February

Day Four:       Cycles and Sketches

Assembling a series of ‘sketches’, towards a cycle of pieces that can play through the Sound Horn installation. Whether each of these will stay as the piece progresses is less obvious, but the process is becoming more enjoyable as I embrace the intuitive.

I’m making lists of next steps, bigger questions and attempting to map out both the sound and the installation itself.

The progression of the work from recording through to headphones, to the six speaker layout and on to the outdoors makes it apparent how much the sound changes through each section. It’s time to step do some testing. I scout out over lunch and hope the weather will hold for the next few days.

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I am spending a week at Cove Park as part of the Cryptic Artists Residency, developing the work Sound Horn. Originally conceived as an idea with sound artist Justin Prim, I’m now taking the piece forwards for a new installation in 2019.

Special thank you to the Cryptic team for an amazing opportunity, and to the Cove Park team for their warm welcome and beautiful location to be based in for the week.

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Creative Practice as a means of Problem Solving

I was recently asked to give a talk about starting out an art practice in Dumfries and Galloway, to a group of young artists – blueprint100 at the Stove. I’ve learned to avoid these experiences as I am usually far more coherent when written down than when speaking in front of an audience.. but the timing seemed good. Having just completed four major commissions in the past two years, and been living the full time artist dream for six years, I took the talk as an opportunity to reflect and gather my thoughts on the past few whirlwind years.

Since art school, I have kept to the idea that I will not focus on one material or craft, but on applying the right approach to each project as it appears. That said, I have a strong connection to process and material – although many of my projects are more ephemeral in content, I always yearn to include a method, a craft or skill, a process of making, into my work. This can be communal, collective or on my own, or all of these.

In the quest to understand my own directions, I have become increasingly focused on the idea of creative practice as a means of problem solving; that artists and creative people can apply an open approach, a methodology, a sensitivity and awareness towards challenges and difficult concepts that can open up alternative ways of thinking and tackling problems. Not that artists can solve all your problems, but can be part of a wider social dialogue to open up alternatives. What does that mean? What does it look like?

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PARKing Space. Collaborative project with The Stove Network in October 2014 including work from Mark Lyken and Emma Dove, Mutual Motion, John Wallace and Colin Tennant, Alice Francis, Open Jar Collective and many more besides!

For me it looks like a lot of different things. Each of them as much a part of my practice as the others, although some of them not traditionally seen as ‘art’. (No surprises there then!) I decided to try and map my practice. That map currently looks a bit like this:

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The web could be knitted a bit tighter, but for simplicity this will stand. Collective working runs through all of this, I talk about this a lot at other points, but for now, when I talk about my practice – I mean both collective and individual working. (And rarely is any of my work truly ‘individual’ – everything we do is built upon networks and  communities.)

The different elements of my work are now starting to fall into two predominant categories: Process and Narrative, and Curation and Gathering.

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Collaborative project with The Stove Network in September 2014 (a vintage year), featuring spoons created by Uula Jero and I, jam and charcoal workshops with Phoebe Marshall, spoon effigies, Alice Francis’ long distance ride, and the Secret Ministry amongst others.

Process and Narrative

My love of process and making is born out of a compulsion to fidget, model, construct – to figure out and learn through forming and deconstructing. Process is not just something I do alone in the studio though, process also plays a strong role in any collective or communal working – as a means to keep hands busy, to draw in, to create pause and gathering for people to share, learn and exchange over. None of this is abstracted. All process is about forming a narrative – about the places we occupy, about our current situation and environments. It draws ideas and methods from the past and present, and allows us to re-write them in the present and the future.

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Tattiefields collaborative project with The Stove Network and Lochside community in 2017.

Curation and Gathering

This is making, but on a bigger scale. Making space for, or creating place – place-making if you like – for people to gather and spend time. Creating activity and energy in a space allows us to work collectively with a much larger group of people, it opens up the invitation to interact to a wider audience and creates the space for change to happen within, and beyond. Taking the time to consider how we interact and move around spaces, considering the invitation, the entrance, the flow of people and activity. This is the part where I am most regularly asked, ‘but how is your real artwork doing?’ This is the real artwork. I create this with the same authenticity, the same drive and focus and consideration as I create all of my artworks. This is just focused on allowing the best opportunity for people to connect. This is my artistic contribution to a wider collaborative project.

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Tattiefields launch in September 2018, contributions from others at this event included art workshops with Design by Zag and James and Susheila, Spud poem by Stuart Paterson, and tattie soup from the Lochside Grub Club

As usual, nothing is fixed, and nothing is permanent. But as a means of focus and direction going forward, this brings some of the huge complexities and variations in my otherwise seemingly scattered practice together into some kind of cohesive whole. One of my big challenges at the moment is to find a way to bring some of this clarity into the outward presentation of my practice – in the form of artist statement and portfolio. It’s a bit of an immense load to try and neatly package into something that can clearly share the interests and direction of my work to potential new collaborators and communities.