Katie Anderson

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

Tag: public art

Mapping Time

It’s been a busy few weeks in the studio, finishing the last of three major commissions for the new hospital in Dumfries. This last project, is the most immersive of the set, due for both A+E and the Maternity departments. The base layer, the ground coat if you like, was applied directly to the walls in November 2017 and are familiar to anyone who is a regular user of these spaces.

These are a series of maps

a series of scales,

mapping variations of scale in place.

Land

Tree

Human

The scales of the infinite.

This final work – as yet untitled – shares an illustrative approach to a series of maps; of places through a contour maps, of trees through the mapping of tree rings, and of people, through chromosome mapping of the human genome, layers of a place and depth of being. As a playful abstraction of data, they are all open to (mis-) interpretation, and I hope they will be in situ soon for you to experience.

Each piece has been hand painted and features 52 colours, with additional mark making and lines drawing using pyrography – etching the marks in using a burning pen. There are seven in total, headed to five different waiting rooms throughout the new hospital, so keep your eyes peeled!

The contour maps on which the circular maps will eventually be displayed.

The Stories of Our Places are Hidden in the Collections We Make

Regular, or even occasional visitors to the Dumfries Hospital may have noticed a new addition in the ward areas in the past month. I was delighted to finally see the DGRI Collection Tables installed, following their completion by fabricators at the Glasgow Sculpture Studios (thanks Dave and Martyn). If you are about visiting an ill friend or relative, or are perhaps spending some time there yourself, have a look for the socialisation spaces in each ward, as nine of these contain one of our tables. There are also bonus points for anyone who spots the two tables out at Moffat and Stranraer community hospitals.

These are one of three commissions which I have been developing over the past two years for the new hospital, and comprises of a series of 11 coffee tables (nine of which are in the DGRI), filled with individual collections, filled with objects, found and gathered, and made specifically for the project.

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One of the tables in situ amongst a collection of odd NHS furniture and thank you cards

For this project I have worked with students from HNC and HND art classes at the Dumfries College, and young artists as part of blueprint100’s open workshops at the Stove. Students and artists were invited to create an object that reflected ideas of health and wellbeing, that could be a positive message for someone to spot whilst spending time staying in the hospital, or that reflected their experiences in Dumfries and Galloway. The found objects are a mixture of natural materials gathered from around the region, old postcards and curiosities linked to places around the region. We then hosted casting sessions in the Dock Park and outside in the College grounds making their objects in pewter.

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Inspiration from the Viking Hoard found in Galloway, during workshops with DG College students

I was really touched by the thoughtful and considerate approach students and artists made towards the project, and the love and care each person put into their objects. The concept of giving a gift of a positive message, or moment of distraction to a stranger who might be spending extended time in the hospital struck a serious chord with many of those participating. The generosity and creativity of everyone involved was very humbling, and a treasured part of the project.

The furniture itself was designed by Dress for the Weather and made by the GSS team from a coloured MDF material valchromat, which takes on a lovely soft and tactile finish when the medical varnish, Steriguard is applied to it.

The lettering in the casing is all hand painted, a copperplate font at a miniscule 12mm letter height, and will be etched on my brain forever.

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What is of real significance in projects like these however, is a more complex notion of ownership and association. Often, a little ‘community engagement’ is sought at the beginning of such large projects. ‘Could you just run a workshop with some key stakeholders to involve them in the project?’ This can be a great starting point. But the notions that this is the beginning, middle and end of ‘community’ involvement undermines the investment, and care of all of those involved. Whoever the community might be, in this case from staff and daily users, to patients, family and friends, and the wider community – almost all of whom will use these public spaces at various points in their life, to offer a tokenistic approach towards involving other people is insensitive and in the longterm, entirely un-useful to artworks.

Community engagement is not an afterthought.

For me as an artist, whenever I involve others in my work, by invitation, direct collaborative working, conversations in passing, or any other form, these people are then welcome to be a part of the ‘artist’ role, they too are invited to have a share of the ownership of the work, and to share in the journey of the works life. This is of course, not a requirement, but is open as a means of us creating a more meaningful artwork collectively.

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Token inspired by the histories of Lincluden and Lochside, created by Jimmy Russell

Over 60 people contributed unique works for the DGRI collection cabinets. I hope that everyone who has contributed a piece to the collection cabinets will have the chance to seek out their own contributions within the hospital, and share their individual stories. The tables hope to be there for the foreseeable future as a record of our moment of shared collaborative practice.

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Installation in progress

Ours is a transient community. But it would be disingenuous to claim credit for anyone else within this. I’m still hoping to get some form of permanent marking to tell the stories of those involved in contributing to the project, although unfortunately I don’t have a complete list of names.

Sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to the work, without you all it wouldn’t have been the success it has become.

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Stag’s head by Isla Gracie

Special thanks to Jo Shennan, who leads the art courses at DG College. Thanks also to the blueprint100 team, and Matthew and Sophie for their support with leading the workshops, and the Stove for ongoing use of the Pedal Powered Foundry.

Tattiefields: Reflections

I’ve been out of habit of reflecting on work, due largely to having taken on a little too much the past two years or thereabouts. With Tattiefields having been finally installed and launched last month, I have finally had the opportunity to consider the project as a whole. Here are the first considerations:

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The process of leaving a work

I don’t enter into making work half-heartedly. Works have to spend long periods of time being mulled over in my mind and on paper long before they become communicable, never mind entering the physical world, and even then, they do so tentatively, and through a form of extended internal discussion around process and material.

Tattiefields began as a work for me in November 2016 – although the site and back story existed long before – and over the course of two years the work has lived with me more or less constantly, before arriving on site in September this year to begin it’s life ‘on site’. The production phase lasted near enough nine months, with various intensive periods interspersed by periods of waiting, and slow pace.

By comparison, the installation was a whirlwind of movement, change and finality as at the end of the day, we were required to pack up and go home, leaving the works to grow their evening shadows across the park.

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Image credit: Euan Adamson

In the run up to the final installation – a date which was unsettled and ever moving during the summer, I mused over the act of leaving a work in a place. The Tattiefields sculptures, which are intended to be permanent additions to the site, are hoped to settle into the place, to become part of the landscaping and surrounding area.

A public artwork, has certain aspects of gift-giving attached, in that I was spending large portions of time considering, and creating with the intention of then placing it within a location to develop a new, and somewhat independent relationship with the other residents of the location. But it was also unlike traditional gift giving, I was aspiring for associations of gift not to be primarily about value, or necessarily a relationship with artist and reciever, but about creating a relationship between artwork and receiver – in this case, residents of the place and the objects themselves.1

The work is also intrinsically a part of me. I have grown with the work, and developed new interests and approaches as a consequence of the project, (as well as having earned the title Princess Tattie, Tattie Lady etc.) To leave ‘casually’ the work to the elements and the place has imprinted the work into my memory. I check back regularly, driving a circular route around the site, and pausing to touch and check each element of the work.

It is settling in already.

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Image credit: Galina Walls

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Following the conclusion of this project I’ve been left with the sense that Public Art is a series of relationships between

the artist – and the artwork

the artist – and other makers and contributors – and artwork

the artist – and place – and artwork

the artist – and residents – and artwork

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Image credit: Galina Walls

Each of these relationships forms a new network that informs the work, and our on-going understanding of the place. In this way, it is not possible to claim exact authorship, even with a project that has been heavily developed independently, as each of the relationships created has grown the project in new ways.

Many of these were built through chance encounters, casual conversations with neighbours and the generosity of local residents who gave their time and efforts to support the projects development.

The relationship with other makers and contributors was a new one for me personally, as the first project where I have worked extensively with others to create an artwork. The process has been intensely rewarding and humbling, and I have so appreciated the calm, patient and sharing nature of each of these contributors.

Creating works like these draws some interesting questions about the balance between authorship and ownership. The authorship I explain a little bit more about in an earlier blog2, the ownership in that for these works to be truly successful, the ownership cannot be solely with the artist or client – in this case the housing partnership who officially ‘own’ the works. For an artwork to truly belong to a space they also need to belong to the people who occupy and reside within and surrounding the space. Each of the houses immediate to the site overlook the work, and hopefully as they become part of the place, the residents too can feel a sense of ownership towards them.

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Becoming ‘Resident’

At a recent workshop I led collectively as part of an interior architecture course, I asked the question ‘what does it mean to be resident of a place?’ How do we ‘reside’ I, or occupy place? In the development of the Tattiefields site this has been one of my on-going questions. The sculpture too will become a resident of the place, but this also asks a bigger question of us as people, and as citizens of a place, to reside are you also an active citizen, or is being resident a passive role?

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Image credit: Euan Adamson

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Public art and the monument

In many ways, this is the stereotype of public art – monuments in places (‘what do you think it’s going to be?’ ‘A giant tattie, for sure.’). In a certain way, Tattiefields is a monument, albeit to a vegetable rather than a historical figure, but it also seeks to determine an alternative approach to permanent public artworks. One that plays a close relationship with the place and the people, whilst also drawing out the less well known narratives of a place, celebrating the everyday and commemorating unique memories and identities of the places we live in. It’s all a question of scale.

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Image credit: Euan Adamson

 

1                For more on gift giving, have a look at Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, a book I have never yet finished but has influenced my thinking about gift giving.

2                https://katiejanderson.wordpress.com/2018/06/26/international-technician-day-everyday/

Tattiefields: Developments

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Experiments with concrete

Sandblasting and stencilling in the detailed work for the new pieces going to the tattiefields site next month.

The patterns reference the original landscaping design, the artwork locations and the wider map network that makes up the tattie map of the world! (With Lochside at the centre, of course).

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Special thanks to Alistair of Grit ‘n’ Polish, highly recommended for any shot blasting requirements you may have. The stencils pick out really delicate details, with sharp edges and great focus.

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The particularly beautiful surfaces of the concrete are in the casting, made by the extremely talented Billy Teasdale, caster-extraordinaire based in Govanhill who has put so much time and work into completing the pieces in time for the installation.

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Final surface preparations to go ahead of the grand unveiling, on Thursday 13th September.

International Technician Day (everyday)

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The relationship between technicians and artists, and the artwork is an interesting one. For me, as an artist the making is intrinsically linked to the thinking, these are not separate actions – one to follow the other, but each ongoing, with one informing the other. A practice that is led by process.
Technicians play a largely invisible role in the artwork from a public perspective – however, without technicians, it seems that many artworks would not be possible, from works largely made by technicians, to those informed by discussions and the expertise, and knowledge that is held by the real technical experts.

I’ve wondered if this distinction between concept and technical skill has always been as separate. Contemporary art does get a bad press, as art education has stepped away from a skill-based approach, to a theory- and concept- based approach, but some of the skills – particularly casting and foundry work has been separate from that of the modeller or artist traditionally for much longer.
The etymology of technician goes back to the Latin and then the Greek (in case you are interested), Tekhne – which encompasses art, craft, skill, method or system of making – keeping the two very much intrinsic to each other.

But never mind the past for a moment, what about the future of the artist as a skilled maker? It seems that skilled based artists are back ‘in’ again, with artists like Phoebe Cummings and her elegant, spectacular raw clay works, and the resurgence in sign painters in the design world. But within the mainstream contemporary art world, most skilled works are still carried out by skilled makers – as separate from the artist-conceiver.

As my current work is to create a permanent piece of public sculpture, I’ve been really enjoying the process of being both the artist and the maker, but the technical support has been a central key for this work to be possible. The balance between control and responsibility allows the work to be more responsive, but also has to account for my own limited, if improving skill set.

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Bronze casting at SSW with support from the fab technicial duo, and artists Audrey and Yoon (on camera work)

I’m already looking to further expand my skills and technical ability following on from this project, (ok, I admit, this is always my goal) but has also opened up routes for a more collaborative approach to working with experts in the future.

Huge thanks are in order for a whole host of amazingly talented people who have been supporting me on the tattiefields project, with a big thank you to the stellar humans Eden and Uist up at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop for all of their support and calming influences during my residency last month.

Work is not done yet.
Stay tuned for the final results, coming soon!

 

 

SSW Residency: Tattiefields In Process

After a very manic and fast moving two weeks, my time at Lumsden is once again up. For the first time, my trip to the Scottish Sculpture Workshop was project focused – I arrived on site, with a list of requirements to be completed in 12 days.

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As usual, turns out I was pretty unprepared – and over prepared with all the usual unnecessaries – but basically, sand moulds are complicated. A thing of wonder and beauty, but complicated. (Thanks to Logan and Ralf on work experience for getting this started off).

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Wax room, in which I have a love-hate relationship. And the overly complicated nature of sprue-ing up pieces.

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Sand mould 1 week later – still complicated. Pantera is the incentive in the metal work department for getting stuff done quickly.

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Ceramic shells, each incasing hollow wax pieces built up in layers to create a solid (theoretically) mould for pouring. Lessons learned there.

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POUR TIME. Three pours, over two days. Huge relief to get these done successfully. Thank you EVERYONE!

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‘Hot potatoes! – Is this ever going to get old?’ Nope. Really, still hot – fresh from the shells.

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With a little cleaning..

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And a bit more. Next stages include sandblasting and patinating, the final colouring process.

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More details. (With the lovely Moomin soft focus in the background.) There’s plenty more to see –  I’m saving the best bits for the big reveal, and the few processes still to go through.

Stay tuned, more to come soon! #tattiefields

 

Sundials and the Tattie Season

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I’ve been growing an interest in sundials and other seasonal graphs, marking the passage of time, the use of the land, the growing seasons and the lighting conditions. Subtle shifts in our everyday environment that can go un-noticed as the years gradually shift through changing seasons.

The recent wild weather brought with it a renewed awareness of our surrounding climates, as journeys were cut short, events and activities postponed, bread vanished from the supermarkets and the news flashed amber – red – amber. With the wintery weather, everything takes a little longer, and children gather on snowy ridges, in parks and playgrounds, rendered new, interesting and white. Our immediate environments and places become new – whitewashed, the sound deadened slightly by the weight of the snow. It’s good to see places fresh. As the weather recedes, temperatures climb, and the snow leaves – it’s good to hold onto the sense of freshness and awareness, the paths traversed and routes taken, the potential and possibility in the ordinary, that arrived with the first of the snow.

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This sundial stone lives in Dumfries Museum and is a beautiful piece, locating itself by surrounding landmarks and distant places, marking the calendar months, as well as the zodiac, and various others.

In creating new calendars and place markers for Lochside, I’m hoping to include not just significant tattie places near and far, but also the growing seasons for different varieties of potatoes. The growth of potatoes, adapted from the original homes in the high mountains of South America to suit our climates and changing sun patterns, measure the passing of seasons and the changes in the everyday, from early Spring right through to Christmas, if you plant your late varieties carefully.

The tattie season is upon us.
#tattiefields

Tattiefields Community Evening

Tattiefields has awakened a true fascination with all things tattie-related as I’ve spent the summer working and re-working ideas for a new public space as part of a housing development in North West Dumfries. From the names of potato breeds, to their origins, growing seasons and varieties, good recipes to creative projects – I’ve started to go a little tattie-mad.

We decided to host an evening to share this new obsession, towards creating a bit of identity for the Tattiefields site, and also to become the first point for sharing the proposed designs for the location. Exciting times.

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The evening included a creative workshop inventing potato men, women, children, animals and aliens…, a curry cooking workshop, the sharing of new designs, a tattie buffet and ended up with some film screenings and the impromptu judging of the best tattie people creations. The event allowed Kirsty Turpie and I to really embrace our love of food as art and art as food, with (I hope) excellent results!

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I had some really great feedback to the designs, and also support from the clients to take the designs forward to we are now looking forward to getting into the production phases for the project! I am still very keen to speaking to anyone who is interested in developing a project to support vegetable growing, either in gardens in and around Lochside, or on site at Tattiefields in the Spring. If you have an idea or are interested in sharing some vegetable growing skills, please get in touch katie<at>the stove.org.

Tattiefields is part of The Stove Network’s Lochside Public Art Project, working in partnership with DGHP and Creative Futures Lincluden and Lochside. Big thank you to project assistant Kirsty Turpie, Michael, Liam Templeton, Agne and Jimmy and Matt B for all the support in pulling the evening together. Thanks and image credits to Kirstin McEwan and Michael. To see the extended photograph album, visit The Stove’s Flickr page here

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The beginnings of a new project that has been under wraps for a while, but is now just starting to emerge! Myself and Kirsty Turpie will be effectively artists in residence in Lochside, popping up at the Family Centre and at various events over the next while. Drop in for a chat and to hear […]

Durational Time, and Place

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These have grown steadily from a rough idea, exploring genetic chromosome mapping, clockwork mechanisms, and tree rings. The outer ring, made up of 23 bands has grown visually from similar circular chromosome maps, abstracted back as one of a series of slow moving rings. The piece, to move in it’s own timeframe forms the first in a series of works focused on staying and waiting within a hospital environment.

 

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Thanks to Samuel at the Dumfries MakLab for helping me get started with these. I’m currently on the hunt for someone clever with mechanisms and kinetic artworks… if that’s you, drop me an email!

 

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Did you know yellow is a bad colour for those suffering from migranes? Neither did I. Apparently it’s a much more anxious colour than it’s sunny disposition might suggest..!

 

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I shouldn’t like these colours. But I really like these colours. These colours are in the process of being toned down appropriately. Turns out I like coloured vinyl more than I thought I would.

How can we influence the experience people have when in hospitals? Can works be stimulating and engaging but still remain sensitive to the needs of all hospital users? How can works engage with the fluctuating community of a hospital environment? What is the role of art in hospitals? How does creative environment interact with the medical one?

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To be able to locate ourselves within a wider sense of landscape, I’ve started to look at different scales and details of our surrounding environment when reflecting on the spaces where people will be spending long periods of time.

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A transparent vinyl landscape to cross the windows, letting in light and seeing through, bringing colour into the room during sunnier days.

Conversation has largely grown around about balance and challenge, finding an intersection of interest and placing a contesting object or artwork at the point of meeting and testing the possible responses. Hospital typography and signage, floor materials and the typical vinyl backed hospital furniture, mysteries of infection control and some violent cleaning products – the language of a hospital is a new one full of new approaches and conversations.

The authentic material – real materials of the earth, are rarely present in our hospitals, with the predominate choices being vinyl surfaces (floors, walls, some ceilings, most furniture), laminates and plastics, the sense of identity through tactile experience is pretty limited. This calls for a whole new set of approaches, as these materials are all invested in the easy-clean approach of a busy and constant working environment, and alternatives are eschewed in favour of more reliable constants.

Things are getting interesting.

 

Huge thanks to Dress for the Weather for the opportunity to work on this so far, and looking forward to the next stages!