Katie Anderson

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

Tag: Tattiefields

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

 

Tattie Planting

If you live in more Southern climates, (South of England/Ireland) the recommended best dates to get your tatties in the ground is somewhere between St Patrick’s Day and Good Friday. Given our latest weather in South Scotland however, you might think us mad to be starting off our first earlies already.

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We kicked off at the LIFT Easter Sunday event planting a variety of early breeds of tattie seeds, and will be doing some more in the near future – which we will announce, and hopefully once the cold weather has subsided.

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Our first early tattie varieties in full: Ayrshire Epicures, Arran Pilots, Duke of York, Maris Bard and Casablancas.

Some good things to bear in mind about your tatties:

  • Keep them watered, but not too wet. Potatoes don’t want to grow in a bog.
  • Potatoes also don’t like the cold. Even just keep them in at the backdoor will help them from getting frosted until this cold snap subsides.
  • Once they start to sprout you are on to something! If you start to see potatoes peeking out get them covered up with some extra compost. Green tatties won’t be any good for eating.
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Sunning our tatties before planting. To chit or not to chit? 

There are lots of different ways of growing tatties! In your special tattie grow bags they shouldn’t need a lot of hassle, but if you’d like to know more about growing tatties here are a few good places to start:

Good luck!
We will announce the date towards the end of the school holidays when you can bring back your tattie bag and we can compare the results, and select our winners. Dates will be announced on the Creative Futures facebook page, and the event will be held at the Tattiefields site on the corner of Carrick Road and Balcary Avenue, by the new Meadows houses.

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Good luck Tina! Thank you to Chris at Vault 101 in Annan for cutting our planter labels.

Like to take part? Live in Lochside? Please get in touch, as I will be doing another couple of events and can help you get started with a tattie of your choice.

What is Tattiefields?

Tattiefields is a site on the edge of the new Meadows housing in Lochside. The inspiration came from local stories remembering tattie howking in the area before it was built up, and this summer a series of artworks are being installed to share the history of the Lochside area. The project is supported by The Stove Network and DGHP.

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

Potato history lesson of the day

In Qorikancha, a city of the Inca’s in modern day Peru, featured a now legendary garden complete with gold corns on silver stalks, and gold potatoes. When the Spanish arrived, causing major unheaval and general carnage, much of Qorikancha’s gold was melted down and sent back to Spain before they ever learned of the cultural value of our humble friend, the potato. Small versions of vegetables, and llamas amongst other valued commodities were often cast in precious metals and given as offerings. Sadly, no gold potatoes remain.

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Picture: 1 of just 3 known life sized cobs of corn created out of a silver-gold alloy.
The garden of Qorikancha is in my dreams.
#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 […]