Katie Anderson

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

Tag: Staying and Waiting

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.

Postcards from the Past

As part of one of my ongoing projects for the new DGRI hospital in Dumfries, I have been gathering collections of objects, with connections from across the region. From artist made objects, to found stones and pebbles from across the Solway’s beaches, forgotten tourist tat and old memories of Dumfries and Galloway past, to new visions of the region as viewed by young creative groups in Dumfries.

I first stumbled across old postcards on an extended eBay hunt, and have since become a bit of an avid collector. As it turns out the inscriptions on the back are every bit as exciting as the images on the front, however in the final installation, the inscriptions will be sadly hidden to keep the postcards safe and in good condition for the future, under glass. The earliest card is dated 12th August 1903, and the most recent ones from the 80s.

Here are some of my favourites before they become hidden in their new homes:

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‘Just here for the day – the weather isn’t too good.’

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‘Have enjoyed relaxing while it rained’

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‘I went down for a bath’

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‘one good turn deserves another’

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‘We are hoping to go to Stranraer before we come home.’

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Collections: Part One

As human beings, one of our more interesting traits is that of collecting, from the gradual process of gathering and selecting, through to our individual approaches of cataloguing, organising and eventually displaying. These can of course, be on a large scale, and done on behalf of communities and peoples, such as in museums, galleries, and shop fronts of many different kinds – and now the online purveyors of exactly-what-you-might-want-to-purchase-for-your-home, but the more interesting collections are those of the everyday, the individual collections of pebbles from the beach, mementos from previous holidays,fridge magnets, wine corks, postcards, pogs.

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This man apparently owns the worlds largest yo-yo collection, of over 6,000 yo-yos. Thanks internet.

We live in an interesting time, so overwhelmed by materialism and disposable culture, that I see the objects we chose to keep, collect, and save as imbued with an innate special-ness. These collections can come to represent us, to our friends and families, and to those who may find the collections after us, as representations of our place in this time. Even the smallest, and most insignificant of collections has a story to tell. Collections don’t need to be fashionable, they just have to be curious and loved. I’m slightly fascinated by the now highly unfashionable thimble collections, cases for which can be found in most charity shops, along with a large collection of mostly uninteresting thimbles from obscure British towns and faded seaside resorts.

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I’ve also held a long term curiosity about Cabinets of Curiosity, or Wunderkammer, (thank you University of Cumbria..), and collections that are neither ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’, that have been gathered, grouped and collected in a manner inspiring and pleasing to the gatherer, creating an individual narrative rather than an accurate depiction of natural history etc.

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According to wikipedia*:  Ferrante Imperato’s Dell’Historia Naturale (Naples 1599), the earliest illustration of a natural history cabinet

But where is all this going? As part of an ongoing project I have started to assemble a collection of objects, made, found, gathered and bought, that will hopefully encourage a little closer examination, a little conversation, and a little curiosity as to their reasons for gathering and placing. I’ve also been working with artists from blueprint100, and students from the Dumfries and Galloway Art and Design courses to create some of the works for these collections which has been a really exciting sharing process. All the participating artists and students were invited to make objects that related to the region, and that were suitable, caring and mindful for a healthcare environment.

DSC_2196_lowres.jpgPewter cast object, by artist Agnė Zdanavičiūtė

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Slip cast conker from my studio collection
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Salt, gathered from the North Sea. Studio Collection

DSC_2203_lowres.jpgPewter cast key by artist Liam Templeton

It hasn’t stopped there. I’ve since been drawn back to eBay, madly collecting old, used postcards with curious snippets of tales on the back, cream pots and milk bottles, scrounging charity shops for old tourist tatt (whilst trying to avoid excessive mass produced plastics), my medal celebrating the last dip at the old Dumfries pool has gone in, as have other curios, pin badges, beach pebbles and seed heads.

The collections will be housed in bespoke designed cabinet-topped coffee tables, by Glasgow based design company, Dress for the Weather, and will hopefully be under production shortly.

If anyone has an old curiosities from the D&G area you’d like to see repurposed into a permanent artwork locally, from items of local history to tourist tat, please get in touch. I’d especially like to find some milk bottle tops – the kind that had the name of the area on them – or some pogs. Just because.

Mapping

After a hectic couple of weeks, a series of five wall murals have now been completed for the new Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, with huge thanks to painters Louise Todd and Kirstin McEwan for all their help. Each one is hand painted in colours complimenting the existing ward and departments palette.

The murals, which will form the backdrops for the main artworks to arrive in the New Year, have been placed in both A+E and Maternity, and are based on contour maps of various locations around Dumfries and Galloway, from Kirkcudbright, to Galloway, Annandale to Criffel – I’ve hopefully gotten a reasonable spread across such a large region, and happy with how they are looking.

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This project is part of Staying and Waiting, a commission by Dress for the Weather to create new artworks for the waiting areas around DGRI, with support from the Holywood Trust.

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Works in Progress – Can’t See The Wood for the Trees

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It’s interesting how ideas grow and change as they develop. The growth of an idea from initial concept through the various layers is a bit complex in the artistic process. Pieces are added, stretched, shrunk, thrown out entirely; materials change, colour palettes shift and move, scale, size, and the actual point of the whole thing in the first place can get lost en route and magically reappear on reflection after it’s been at the back of a metaphorical cupboard for a couple of months.

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I am not a digital artist by any stretch of the imagination. I was dragged, kicking and screaming into the digital world realising post-graduation that an artist career without a computer in the 21st century was a physical impossibility. I love the insignificant and the small, indelible and slight mark of our hands to be left on everything. Illustrator and Photoshop, genius as they are as programmes, remove to varying degrees, the mark of the maker.

This project became an investigation into how best to hold onto this essence of artist. I’m sure a designer or illustrator could have easily illustrated this task, but stubborn as I have a reputation for, the idea of creating a repetitive image to be used across nearly 300 bedrooms was a challenge that appealed.

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The practical challenge, aside from the large scale repetition (image must be the same throughout all rooms – although this was negotiated to three variations by the end of the project), was the available space and shape available in each room – 800mm x 2500mm, and the material – digitally printed onto a medicare-approved plastic. This is possibly one of the least attractive materials I have ever worked with. The inspiration drew from the local area, and the view from the intensive care rooms to the back of the building, of forests, half hidden in the mist, and of – closer up – the tree barks, lichens and mosses that make of the close up detail of our woodlands.

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Then came my introduction to the beautiful world of coloured vinyls, with thanks to Sam Sparrow, and later to Elite Display for helping me to get started with these designs.

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I LOVE coloured vinyl. It has a great smell, great tactile-quality and looks great layered up. (Please vinyl manufacturers, more colour variety in transparent vinyls though!). The grey vinyl was my absolute favourite. Too bold though, in their original colours, for the environment.

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Layering up by hand and enjoying the play between vinyl and mount board (difficult to view through these scans I appreciate) – the hand of the artist was still squeezing back in there. I loved the interface and relationship between the hand drawn ink lines and the glossy vinyls.

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So began a long battle with colour. And composition. And other things. Huge thanks at this point to Euan Adamson who spent some time in my studio scanning and copying multiple variations of works for me at short notice.

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And then again.

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Patience is a virtue. Or something.

Now give all of the ideas and work time to stew, slow-cooker style for a period of months before they are whisked off to the great digital printers in the sky.. or the South of England somewhere in this case.

If you’d like to see the final works, you will need to visit a sick relative staying in one of the bedrooms in the new Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary. This project is part of Staying and Waiting, a commission by Dress for the Weather to create new artworks for the waiting areas around DGRI, with support from the Holywood Trust.

 

 

Casting in progress

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Have paired up with blueprint100 to kick some work creating a collection for the new DGRI, due to open at the end of the year. Working with several different groups across the region, I am hoping to build up a collection of curiosities; small objects and ephemera, that can create conversation and distraction within some of the spaces in the new hospital.

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blueprint100 are the first group I have worked with on this project, but hoping to connect with several others to make up all of the work required over the next couple of months. The objects are all being created using the Stove’s Pedal Powered Foundry – a unique and quirky kit that can enable small scale metal castings in a variety of metals and using a variety of processes.

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The blueprint100 sessions fell neatly into two parts, the first in the studio, the second down on the Mill Green in blazing sunshine.

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Above, Agné’s tree, and below Jimmy’s Lochside and Lincluden crest.

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Thank you to everyone who donated a piece towards the collection, and the blueprint100 team for their support. Also thanks to Sophie for being my helpful assistant throughout both workshops. More workshops and objects coming soon!