To celebrate World Smile Day, I decided to take a quick walk around the new Science and Technology galleries at the National Museum of Scotland looking for some smiles in our objects. Have you ever seen a face in an object? It starts perhaps by noticing a couple of eyes, perhaps a nose and if you are lucky a big wide mouth.
Compassion emerges from imagining the world alive.
These are the words of Alexandra Horowitz, in a book called On Looking: Eleven Walks with Eleven Experts. Horowitz explores the way in which we can become more present in the daily quotidian, by stepping a familiar route alongside the footsteps of eleven different people, some experts like geologists, but also her toddler and her dog. With these fresh eyes alongside her, it is possible for previously unseen elements to emerge. As they share what excites them – from the cracks on a pavement, to the font selected for a sign.
Earlier this year I was also lucky enough to follow in some different footsteps, although whilst on a tour of some unfamiliar grounds – the National Museums Scotland Collection Centre. I came away with my mind afresh with new perspectives and new things to try to see when looking around me. It’s Doors Open Day at the Collection Centre this weekend, our tours were fully booked and so we have now welcomed many more feet to explore the collection further. Read more about what I discovered here!
RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
I believe that this rule by Sister Corita Kent applies to writing just as it applies to any other creative process. When I try to write creatively, I find that it is good to just let the words flow. Then leave them to rest for a while, before going back with a fresh view to edit them.
I am revisiting the work of Sister Corita Kent, following a recent email from a friend with the subject header ‘inspiration’. It stated that they were starting a “collective, constructive, and hopefully uplifting exchange” and it was a chain-letter-type-thing that asked simply if I could send an encouraging quote or verse to the person detailed in the email. The deal being that in turn someone (probably a friend of a friend), should send some texts to me sometime soon. I quickly settled on sharing the Immaculate Heart College Art Department Rules, which I first spotted in a compelling exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts in 2013. It was at this exhibition that I was first introduced to the work of Sister Corita Kent (1918 – 1986), an activist nun who ran the art department at the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles for over 20 years.
In total, the Immaculate Heart Art College Department Rules state:
RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.
RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.
RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.
RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.
RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)
HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.
In the exhibition, the words of these rules were printed on a number of boxes that were combined to build a room and inside they screened a film. Now almost two years on, this ‘inspiration’ email prompted me to search the for this film ‘We Have No Art’ and I found it lurking in the land of film known as Youtube. I’ve now watched it again a number of times. I’ll probably watch it a few more times by the time this blog post is finished. So I feel pleased that in the quest of inspiring a friend of a friend via email, I’ve also found a little time to explore the work of Sister Corita Kent once more.
I like the sentiments shared in this film, both by Corita and her students. It gave me a chance to get a sense of their methods of thinking and teaching. The film starts with a brilliant and humorous introduction, as Corita discusses why you should never blink when watching a film.
I think maybe one of the most important rules about looking at films that I can think of is that you should never blink. You should really keep your eye straight on the film and never miss anything. Because if you blink or close your eyes or turn around, I always think it is comparable to skipping several pages of a book.
In September 2015 I had a print on display at the Silk Road exhibition, part of Impact 9 International Printmaking Conference, Hangzhou-China. September 2015. This was an exhibition by Dundee Print Collective and was displayed again in Dundee on it’s return at WASPS Meadow Mills.
The title and text relating to this print are below:
Freedom is found in the places in between
In specific places rules exist. Expectations of actions and thoughts exist. When a journey starts from somewhere known, to somewhere unknown, perhaps during that journey true freedom is found. The road, the route, the space of flux. The space where people move, ideas are traded, cultures are crossed and a new form of freedom is found.
One of the editions from this print now sits proudly on my living room wall, it’s my favourite of all that I have created so far.
I’ve recently been thinking about when colour seeps into the past… These thoughts were spurred on by a talk from Chris Wild at the Culture 24 Let’s Get Real conference this September. Chris founded a blog called Retronaut, which shares incredible images of the past that can:
take your map of time and tear tiny holes in it.
Chris started his talk by sharing that he first discovered he could travel in time as a child, whilst in front of the wondrous invention that is the television. Sat in front of a glowing square box is where Chris stumbled across Bagpuss, the children’s television show which shifts from sepia to colour when Bagpuss wakes up. Chris credited this programme as a key inspiration for his current endeavours with Retronaut.
As I returned from the conference I couldn’t shake these thoughts of a colourful past from my head. I decided to delve into the Victorian Sensation photography collections that we have online and explore these colour Victorian images a little more myself. Of course, there was no form of commercial colour photography available at that time, and instead various forms of painting, colouring and tinting were applied. Read the full blog here!
I had a third print exhibited as part of Dundee Print Collective, this exhibition was on display at the Hannah Mclure Centre in Dundee as part of Print Festival Scotland in 2015. My print is the one on the far left of this first wall as you enter the exhibition. It was titled: Marvel at the Moon.
You can’t see it from a distance, but surrounding the large moon which is created from leaving a space in the darkness. There are lines of small text that create the outer rings. It’s perhaps easiest to see them on this exposed screen.
In May 2015 I was asked to speak at Dundee Pecha Kucha Night Vol 12, with the open invitation to discuss any topic. The only limit being the format = 20 images, each for 20 seconds.
I selected to discuss words.
I planned what I was going to say. 20 seconds per slide really doesn’t seem like alot, it goes even quicker when you are on a stage with a couple of hundred people in front of you. So I didn’t keep to my plan exactly. However, I’ve embedded the words and images that I planned to say below. You can compare and contrast. Continue reading “WORDS: Pecha Kucha Night Vol 12”
Sometimes it is nice to slow down. I think this is what I have enjoyed most about my recent foray into printmaking. I like the process. It slows me down. It slows the printing process down. This gives me time to think and a chance to figure out how I would like the ink to dry on the paper. Going through this printing process makes me appreciate and value my prints more.
I spent a few weekends last year in the print studio at Dundee Contemporary Arts, as I was experimenting with developing some print designs for the new Dundee Print Collective. The print collective set no theme, but there was a set format. So the print had to be specific dimensions, with one black layer and one optional further colour. It was busy in the studio, with a number of people in the newly formed collective working away – at various stages of the printing process. I developed two prints over a two different weekends and I have discussed them a little more below.
I started the year of with the usual sunshine energy that organising & taking part in fun a day tends to have. Fun a Day is a community based art project which I think really strengthens your creative muscles and sets you up well for the year. When I first took part in the project, the encouragement if the first organiser Morgan Cahn gave me a real confidence boost. It made me feel it was ok to make something and call it art. I hadn’t really felt confident in doing that in a long time and it was a brilliant boost. Art is made with an intention. If you are creating something with the intention for it to be art, then it is art. It sounds simple, but I think it takes a lot of confidence in yourself to call something art.