Katie Anderson

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

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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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

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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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

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.

 

 

SOUND HORN | Wave Decay | SANCTUARY LAB 2017

Can an artwork retain an essence of the site-specific whilst re-locating?
Can a temporary artwork be a tool for exploring, or re-examining a site?

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The second installing of Wave Decay took place as part of Sanctuary Lab, a 24 hour experiment of sound, light and art in the Galloway Forest Park. The site I selected on recommendation, is the stunning and majestic McMoab Stones, for the most part solely used by Mountain Bikers with a taste for the adventurous, these beautiful granite rocks rise out of the landscape like huge stone whales. It is an awe-some location in all manner of meanings.

The work has been heavily redeveloped sculpturally, with a series of new speaker horns created as part of a VAACMA Award 2017, in sheet copper and aluminium. They were a joy to make and gave an interestingly alien shine on the place, like small space rockets that had landed in the landscape, reflecting the tones and colours of the granite, the trees, the sky.

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The conditions for Wave Decay 2017 were extreme, with heavy rain and strong winds – the site became increasingly exposed and wild as the morning continued as wet as it began. Wave Decay became an opportunity to watch the sheet rain move across the valley, and hear and feel the very essence of the place as a seeping cold, pervasive damp against all waterproofs.
The all pervading sound of Wave Decay echoing out through the rain lingers long after everything has dried out.

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With extreme conditions come a kind of extreme audience. Intrepid explorers intent on the destination appeared in twos and threes, wearing increasingly serious waterproofs and boots. We casually handed out transparent wedding brollies to hold back the rain from faces at least temporarily, and visitors moved cautiously at first, over the backs of whales – picking between the puddles and up to the ridges, as the sound moved over in a constant drone of sound.

The sound, whilst difficult to explain – even in situ – provides an opportunity to re-examine place through sound, as the everyday sounds are muted and replaced by constant tones that move with the visitor, the sound unique to each pair of ears, moving and waivering discreetly between the sculptures.

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It became apparent during it’s latest outing that Wave Decay is no longer the appropriate title, it started out as an exploration of decay in space and sound in the ruins of Milkbank near Lockerbie, but as it moved location clearly the name could not accurately move with it. The sound horns are the constant, and everything else adjusts in response to the site.

As the work moves on, it looks for both new sites and places to test, a new name – (perhaps the work needs to be renamed for each site, but to still have a sense of consistency across the installations), and potentially a new addition to the current sound. I would love to bring the sound of each site to following iterations of the work, and allow the sites, or ghosts of sites to work with the current tonal sounds. I would like to better share the human essence of the work, the playful exploration and the vocal ranges. The sound might like to be more human, or more animal – and better be able to share it’s sense of place. It’s a growing experiment, and I’m looking for new site locations, indoors and out, that could play host to Wave Decay’s Sound Horns. If you have ideas, responses or general interest please get in touch.

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Huge thank you to everyone who made the effort to join me out of the McMoab Stones in September on a dreich Sunday morning, to everyone I spoke to and those I did not, thank you. Also big thanks to Sanctuary Lab team, Robbie and Jo, to Michael, Matt, Colin, Mike and everyone who helped get the install up last minute, Justin for the international tech support help line, to the trusty Pick Up on it’s final mission, and to the funders for helping get this project off the ground.
This project has been supported by Sanctuary Lab 2017, and the South of Scotland Visual Artist and Craft Maker Awards funded by Creative Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Live Borders.

Intensive Bronze adventures

I’ve spent a while looking for the right course to spend a bit of time focusing my work work and technical approach this year. Looking to develop my own practice generally, as well as working towards completing a couple of current works in progress, I eventually spotted the Scottish Sculpture Workshop’s Intensive Bronze course – and remembered Eden Jolly, course leader and technician extraordinaire telling me how great a week it was. It really was.

I’ve done a wee bit of bronze casting before, and arrived with a long list of things to test and explore. I managed to narrow it down a little for the practicalities of a five day course..(!)

Test 1: I’ve been working on a series of woven bark and basket-styled objects – as samples  for a bigger project on a larger scale. Quick and rushed plaster mould to wax and then through the ceramic shell lost wax process.

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Complete pain to get a decent moulding of, and lost the detailing on the reverse – mostly due to the size and scale I was working at, and a bit of uneven filling during the pour which has lost some of the definition at the end points.

Test 2: I’ve been working on some clockwork pieces for a while, making cogs and pinions in ply, but thought they might be a bit more interesting moved into bronze, at least in some parts of the clockwork. These weren’t very perfect to start with even in ply, and going through an organic burn out process was pretty interesting – directly coating the ply pieces in ceramic shell material before burning out the ply pieces in their entirety.

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These needed the most finishing post casting, and are still a bit rough and ready, as they lost a little detail in the teeth during the pour but pretty lovely clunky things. Now excited to keep working on the clockwork pieces to incorporate these (and work around the shrinkage of the pinions as they have gone through this process).

Test 3: Surface pattern. I’ve done a wee bit of ceramic shell casting before, but really wanted to learn a bit more about sand casting as a potentially more accessible route for developing the Stove’s Pedal Powered Foundry for use at home and locally with new workshops. I’ve had these moulds from a series of casts of the Solway shore for a while, but lately I’ve been developing an urge to redevelop them into a beautiful piece as the original moulds never really got that far.

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Beautiful sand mould surface texture. Suitably sandy for the solway shore. (Note the odd bump to the design due to my clumsy temporary plasticine centre)

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Basically, everything is better once it has been set on fire.

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Patina’s especially.

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Sort of listening, sort of not listening about the ‘don’t use that wax, it’s too dark a colour’. Really useful stuff. Might’ve also used a bit much, but it has settled down a wee bit.

Plus, my biggest metal pour yet, here Maria and Margret pour out the unused bronze ready for casting another time in the second pour of the week.

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Major thank you to Eden and Uist for all the technical support, information and giggles, Annie at the office for being awesome and superbly helpful, and lots of love to my new casting pals for an excellent, laughter-filled week. SSW is an amazing place.

Also, I’m back in the ITSA (Table Squennis) website’s trading cards collection… (Goldy Trumpet features here) I plan to learn the rules on my next trip up North.

My attendance on the course was supported by the South of Scotland Visual Artist and Craft Maker Awards funded by Creative Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Live Borders. This is a really amazing award and fund, if you are an artist or craft maker based in Dumfries and Galloway or the Borders, you can apply for the second round of the 2017-18 scheme, the deadline for which will be in February 2018. Full details available online here