Katie Anderson

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

Tag: Scotland

Artist Residency: Cove Park 2

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Sound Out

Artist residencies are interesting for their different-ness – few residencies seem to be the same -, but there is something incredible about the intensive nature and approach which they allow for. The luxury of time with no other distractions, responsibilities or guilts – if you can hold these at bay – is a really changing experience for getting in deep with your work. The days stretch out long, and progress meanders between productivity and procrastination, but all edging towards the heart of the work itself. They can feel extremely self-indulgent as the everyday can be thoroughly neglected, and new and unusual routines emerge quickly focused around the act of making, or sometimes the act of avoiding the work. This is all healthy and productive. Taking a walk can be really the most useful thing you can do.

That being said, this was not a gentle paced residency in lots of ways. I arrived with a long list and set of goals to reach during my seven day stint, and I largely stuck to it. I allowed the location – the place – to seep into the work, to influence, settle and change again my relationship with the work in progress.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

The piece I have been developing, Sound Horn, is a sculptural and sound installation comprised of a six speaker surround sound system, that plays through a series of large horn-like sculptures that sprout from the ground. The work looks to encourage audiences to playfully explore the site in which it is installed, for the site where it is installed ultimately shapes the nature of the work. With each site tested or explored using the Sound Horns, the work hones in a little in my understanding of it. The installation sings, reverberating a tune of it’s own making that fills the space and reaches out as it travels. An immersive meditation on the audible place, the subtle changes in tone as audience and sound move around the space, it’s come on leaps and bounds this week.

During the residency, I was able to install the work twice in two different locations, the first very poetically beautiful and almost ornate – around the frog pond, an exposed and open environment, but somehow still with a hint of the domestic. The audience for this first installation comprising of two curious highland cattle. The second, in a small section of woodland just away from the track, involving the stepping away from the path, over the ditch and through the branches felt a little more involved, and was shared with the other artists on residence with me at the time (thank you all!).

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Now, You Have Arrived

I set myself some interesting challenges for the week, to push my own comfort zones, to learn some new digital skills and to familiarise myself further with the work and the way it responds to the place. I developed three new sound sketches for the installation, all created using recordings at Cove Park including vocal arrangements and field recordings. Having lived with quite a long time fear of sharing my voice in the work, this has felt like a big step, however I’m keeping the audio under wraps for now.

It was also very exciting to meet other artists on the programme, hear about their passions and current projects, exchange thoughts and opinions and hear about their daily developments, and our collective quest to gather the best recordings of the frogs. I’ve learned a lot already from the conversations and really look forward to seeing how the works all develop, and where the Cove influences appear.

Don’t get too comfortable.

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I was 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.

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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Wave Decay

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Site Specificity.

Step outwards and pause, listen.

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Sound. Wave | Decay.

The announcement of a new collaborative project with Justin K Prim, exploring a favourite, secretive spot in Annandale. Walk out into the world, neither rose tinted nor of true reality. Tune in to space.

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Keep your ears pricked. Approach with caution. It’s wild out there.

18th and 19th of August 2016. Annandale. Details to be announced soon.

With thanks to DGUnlimited and The Stove Network.

All Paths Lead to Morton – EAFS Offgrid

This summer welcomed the second Environmental Arts Festival Scotland – an international biennial of contemporary art practice in landscape – which for two months this summer absorbed me whole. My last EAFS experience in 2013 (blog here) shook and rattled my perceptions on place-based art in all the right ways, and has been an important part in prodding my reflective process into the art practice that it is today.

But moving on from the hectic, region trailing festival that was EAFS 2013, this year took a marked-ly different tack. Exploring themes of pilgrimage and journeying, hospitality and generosity and – my favourite – inventiveness and foolishness as a way of understanding the world (Have I reinvented that a little? Perhaps it has grown from the original intention), EAFS Offgrid 2015 looked as a large scale collective artwork in which all parties became part-artist, an experiment in co-created community, temporary place making and exploration of landscape.

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I had lots of questions during the lead-up to the festival. (Apologies to all who endured my constant questioning)

One of the most persistant was in the meaning of ‘festival’ in the first place. Contemporary associations of festival – through the prolificy of large scale music and arts festival – put us the audience, in a passive state, consuming entertainment, resources and activity, these are free spaces for new experience and free partying; but everything is largely provided for us, from music and activity to food and water, the festival crowd is encouraged to participate by consuming. This seems mis-matched for our free spirited and independant festival idealism.

The alternative? EAFS Offgrid, whereby attending a festival made you an active participant, a sense of generosity and hospitality grown by all involved encouraged an active bringing and sharing, from extra food to additional programmed content – some of the quoted favourite moments at EAFS were the ones we never even programmed. From this generosity grew an amazing atmosphere of a community, caring and growing itself and each other. The EAFS team looked to create a space to be activated by others; in this way everyone had the opportunity to be a participating artist at EAFS – and in this collective making, everything from eating to sign-posting could be considered and created as part of the larger EAFS artwork.

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Who can claim ownership of EAFS? Creating a community or a place felt less concerned with ownership of artistic direction, and more to do with a growing sense of collective intent (count the number of uses of the word collective in this post). Interpreting and understanding of the festival was a big question in the run up to the festival; how could we encourage a sense of shared ownership to grow ‘open-source’ interpretation, conversation and development of EAFS’ themes and ideas? The core team (artists, interns, volunteers and management) became the knowledge ambassadors, pioneers of information sharing to spread throughout the festival over the course of the weekend, conversing over hand outs and newspapers. My own corner fell to signage as installation, signposting as artwork. The role of art/ist as a communicator may have been over-stepped in my new found blackboard and road sign obsession (sorry to any who crossed my path late one night with blackboards under torch-light) but allowed for an intense period of questioning, development and ultimately understanding.

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To the artwork itself, EAFS as an installation created a central festival village, an information hub and home for just over a week. Some of our visitors never left this safe haven of conversation, freshly cut field and idyllic viewpoints. This was the cluster point, teams gathering before heading out, the return point for artists, performers and our four legged friends; all paths lead to Morton. The landscape was our context, and growing out from the castle and festival village were walks into the unknown – opening up a vastness of purple heather, braken, running water and clear sky. These were the lands of EAFS.conspectus 1

An early decision was taken for artworks to be minimal in their occupation of the landscape, long walks to distant locations or installation points yielded time for reflection, discovery and understanding of the place-context (nobody mention the partridges). The artworks themselves allowed for moments or glimpses into an artistic perspective – this was art as investigation, as questioning and framing. Art as walking, art as looking closer.

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One of the downsides of being so absorbed by organising was how little of the festival I managed to absorb, however my highlights included:

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Sitting high above the reservoir, hidden in heather – eating bleberries and listening to the rising sounds from the Art of Expeditions’s boat house.

Gathered around Andy McAvoy’s Tea Caddy, passing around objects from George Wyllie’s studio box.

Being entirely submerged in The Terrestrial Sea late on Saturday night.

Late night conversations by the embers of the River of Fire.

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The festival was designed to be light on the earth, leaving without trace – there was an importance to the act/actions of leaving. Within 24 hours there was hardly a mark of our being, and it somehow felt right – sat on the last picnic bench in the fading sun.

Food. Firesides. Conversing.

Rhythm. Sustenance. Placemaking.

Collect. Curate. Create.

Landscape. Our land. The Lands of EAFS.

 

 

 

All images my own. Huge thanks and love to Robbie, Matt, Jan, Debz and the super-cool EAFS team. This year I participated in EAFS as one of five interns supported by the (fabulous) Holywood Trust.

Some beautiful image blogs of EAFS available on The Stove blog, check them out here

On Inspiration, audiences, and art-that-isn’t-like-art

Whilst having lunch with my mentor Isabell Buenz and her partner Ewan at the weekend, we got talking about what and who inspired us as artists. I possibly surprised myself a little, so thought it would be worth a share. I’m in an interesting space with exhibition and gallery art having made a very sudden re-appearance in my world, and the otherness, the less definable but certain ‘other’ that represents the work that really excites me.

1. My current research obsession is for Jeanne van Heeswijk. Unfortunatly, I’m yet to meet one of her projects in ‘the flesh’ but I’m sure the time will come yet. First heard of her work through the 2Up2Down project which grew into what is now Homebaked, and was part of the Liverpool Biennial; a project which worked with local people to change and grow their community through a bakery in the Anfield area.Blauwe Huis-bloemen The second of her projects I’m particularly excited about is Blue House, which ran from 2005 until about 2009 and was situated in IJburg, an at the time new suburb being in Amsterdam. Blue House became ‘a centre for research and artistic and cultural production, looking at what happens when such a radical approach to urban planning and community development is employed,’ and ran all sorts of projects from opening a flower shop, to running pop up cinemas and hosting research residencies. Her website is also a total treasure chest and mine-field in one.

2. Sarah Kenchington’s Wind Pipes for Edinburgh. This was a really fascinating work I came across during the Edinburgh festival. The site was a bit of a hidden treasure (visit here), and the work itself was a beautiful jumble of found parts and the most beautiful bent penny buttons. The films recording this work show the composers performing, but when I visited all were invited to play, the invigilator proudly told me she’d sussed out how to play the Harry Potter theme tune that afternoon, and had the notes if I wanted to give it a shot (I passed). Being able to play with it felt more exciting than watching someone else playing it.

Wind Pipes for Edinburgh concert from Edinburgh Art Festival on Vimeo.

This has promoted a fair bit of art-that-isn’t-like-art chat, both over lunch, and at home. I do a lot of talking about social media as an arts practice, youth work or events management as an arts practice. In my view it all comes down to process. In all actuality, what I really am when it comes to it is a process-artist. The outcome, whether it’s an installation, ‘object’, event, or something far less tangible is sometimes as much a by-product of artistic process. This is to do with an – uncertainty? – a curiosity perhaps, as to whether or not artistic approach is intrinsically different from other kinds of approach. What is it about artistic thinking that can lend itself to not just creating a beautiful artwork, but also potentially to creating a marketing campagin or series of intricate flow charts?

As art collaborations with scientists, political activists and other ‘cross-disciplinary’ subjects are the vogue at the moment, is there something specifically, tangibly different about the artistic approach to problem solving? At art college, I used to positively fume when asked why an audience ‘should care’ about my work. At the time, it felt completely backwards to start with the audience and work in reverse order. I suspect that’s how commercial arts practice comes about, but the focus on who the audience are, why they are, whether they are passive bystanders or active participants, message carriers, or advocates – those have suddenly become some of my favourite questions – and with that, communication, and collective thinking start to pile in. It’s a bit of a shift, but it’s an exciting one.

3. Over lunch, I only listed two – but have since felt the need to add a slightly more ‘fluffy’ third. These are the artists I surround myself with, the projects that I follow and seek out, the conversations I have over soup, and up hills half lost and half drowned in Scottish weather. The Environmental Arts Festival, which I was so priviledged to be a part of first time round, is back for it’s second edition this summer. You’d be crazy to miss it, I’m just madly excited about it. Get an early taster here courtesy of the lovely John Wallace. The Stove has finally revealed it’s grand opening next month, which is a full blown shift for The Stove Network, as for the first time it has a proper home, and sees a shift in Dumfries as arts in placed centre stage in the town. I’m crazy excited about it too. Read all about it here. (And watch out for the #OpenHouse social media, ’cause it’s art, right?)

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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






blindly optimistic…?

Today was a full on day of aspirational talk at the CS Open in Dumfries.

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Plenty of blue sky thinking was done today

A few things really stuck out:

In particular the optimism of D&G folk really stuck out – the belief that it IS possible, we CAN bring beautiful and exciting arts projects to the regions, and share new experiences with the rest of our region. That there is (and should be) life beyond the Central Belt was a point that re-appeared time and time again. Notions of periphery, geographical (or otherwise) isolation, in a largely rural country but where decision making comes from our urban centres seems to clash, at least a little.

Language. When is one type appropriate over another? How do we dictate the language we use, and how does this help or hinder the arguement? As a graduate, I’m quick to admit how artspeak focuses my own work – and although I do believe there are times when artspeak is not appropriate – I feel ‘specialised vocabularly’ is all a part of the learning process and somehow integral to the learning process. However this seemed to be viewed as somewhat snobbish (at least by my table esp. the amateur art advocates), and I don’t know where I stand at this one yet… The guardian is currently taking a stance on artspeak check out one of their articles here – don’t think I’m this bad yet though!

Culture. Define.

“noun

  1. the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action
  2. the total range of activities and ideas of a group of people with shared traditions, which are transmitted and reinforced by members of the group ⇒ the Mayan culture
  3. a particular civilization at a particular period
  4. the artistic and social pursuits, expression, and tastes valued by a society or class, as in the arts, manners, dress, etc
  5. the enlightenment or refinement resulting from these pursuits
  6. the attitudes, feelings, values, and behaviour that characterize and inform society as a whole or any social group within it ⇒ yob culture
  7. the cultivation of plants, esp by scientific methods designed to improve stock or to produce new ones
  8. (stockbreeding) the rearing and breeding of animals, esp with a view to improving the strain
  9. the act or practice of tilling or cultivating the soil
  10. (biology)
    1. the experimental growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, in a nutrient substance (culture medium), usually under controlled conditions See also culture medium
    2. a group of microorganisms grown in this way”

(Collins dictionary – if you’re interested)

I am aware I use the word culture to mean everything, and after today clearly, so does everyone else. Art seems to form part of a much larger part of life – it’s more multi-disciplinary, and there’s more cross-contamination between life, art and everything else. In this way, identifying Creative Scotland’s ‘role’ is more difficult when defining it’s main focus has such soft focused edges. We want more risk-taking, less playing-it-safe, more ambitious and more outward looking.

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This is not about the individual (artist or funder) but about the collective identity of a whole arts community. It feels like there is a lot at stake here, but also I suspect – regardless of how it pans out, these highly ambitious, focused artists and art-types would not let these sort of things get in their way. The drive will always come from the grassroots upwards, and these people seem far too driven to let the ultimate outcome of CS’ stooshie from dreaming and achieving.

I feel quite inspired. Hopefully Creative Scotland does too.