Katie Jo Anderson

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

Tag: dumfries and galloway

Wave Decay, Sanctuary Headed

Really excited to announce that Wave Decay will be making a second appearance, later this year at Sanctuary. Having first created the sound and sculptural installation in collaboration with Justin K Prim last summer for Milkbank House, (details available here) the work is now being redeveloped for a new location in the Galloway Forest Park.

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Full details about the project at Sanctuary here

Running on the Backs of Whales

Beautiful weekend was spent in Galloway avoiding the rain showers, running across the flat and empty Solway, and revisiting the Stove’s Ferry Bell in Creetown.

Also, very excitingly, I went to check out a potential new location for an installation work later in the year. ‘Like the backs of whales’ was the general descriptor we went out on the search for.

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And so it seemed. Huge granite spines crack open the surrounding greenery, heaving gently through the landscape.

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There’s a tiny human (full size) for scale reference.

The surfaces and textures are beautiful, and the sense of scale about the place before it opens up to reveal the valley and burn running below are perfect.

The site might be well known to you if you are a particularly adventurous mountain biker, as the McMoab Stones feature on the area’s more hardcore mountain biking routes, but it is a beautiful site to explore on foot equally.

There’s quite a bit of logistics and detail to figure out next, but I am IN LOVE with this location. (Thanks Robbie, for the hint.)

Stay tuned.

Durational Time, and Place

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These have grown steadily from a rough idea, exploring genetic chromosome mapping, clockwork mechanisms, and tree rings. The outer ring, made up of 23 bands has grown visually from similar circular chromosome maps, abstracted back as one of a series of slow moving rings. The piece, to move in it’s own timeframe forms the first in a series of works focused on staying and waiting within a hospital environment.

 

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Thanks to Samuel at the Dumfries MakLab for helping me get started with these. I’m currently on the hunt for someone clever with mechanisms and kinetic artworks… if that’s you, drop me an email!

 

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Did you know yellow is a bad colour for those suffering from migranes? Neither did I. Apparently it’s a much more anxious colour than it’s sunny disposition might suggest..!

 

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I shouldn’t like these colours. But I really like these colours. These colours are in the process of being toned down appropriately. Turns out I like coloured vinyl more than I thought I would.

How can we influence the experience people have when in hospitals? Can works be stimulating and engaging but still remain sensitive to the needs of all hospital users? How can works engage with the fluctuating community of a hospital environment? What is the role of art in hospitals? How does creative environment interact with the medical one?

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To be able to locate ourselves within a wider sense of landscape, I’ve started to look at different scales and details of our surrounding environment when reflecting on the spaces where people will be spending long periods of time.

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A transparent vinyl landscape to cross the windows, letting in light and seeing through, bringing colour into the room during sunnier days.

Conversation has largely grown around about balance and challenge, finding an intersection of interest and placing a contesting object or artwork at the point of meeting and testing the possible responses. Hospital typography and signage, floor materials and the typical vinyl backed hospital furniture, mysteries of infection control and some violent cleaning products – the language of a hospital is a new one full of new approaches and conversations.

The authentic material – real materials of the earth, are rarely present in our hospitals, with the predominate choices being vinyl surfaces (floors, walls, some ceilings, most furniture), laminates and plastics, the sense of identity through tactile experience is pretty limited. This calls for a whole new set of approaches, as these materials are all invested in the easy-clean approach of a busy and constant working environment, and alternatives are eschewed in favour of more reliable constants.

Things are getting interesting.

 

Huge thanks to Dress for the Weather for the opportunity to work on this so far, and looking forward to the next stages!

Wave Decay Sonotorium

sound | art | light | space

18th – 21st August 2016

Follow the Annandale Way
Step lightly
Imagine the wild as fragile
Listen
Immerse yourself in the sound fog

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Wave Decay Sonotorium was a three day sound and sculptural installation created for Milkbank House, a now ruinous 19th century country house in rural Dumfries and Galloway. Working in collaboration with sound artist and energy healer Justin K Prim, the work was developed over the course of a year in response to the site and an exploration of sine wave tones.

Powered by a custom build multi-channel amplifier and speaker system, Wave Decay Sonotorium aimed to use sound to transform the space and shape the experience of exploration. A series of eight sculptural speakers, were installed throughout the ruined remains, shaping the sound and in turn re-shaping the environment around them.

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As viewers moved through the space, exploring nooks and crannies, the last moments of Milkbank as it is being reclaimed by the land, the sound of Wave Decay moved and altered with them, shaping the experience of place and changing our interpretation of space, if only temporarily.

The resonance coming through the sound horns, created and concieved by Justin, were pure sine wave tones. Tuned to harmonise perfectly with the natural resonant shape of the cochlea in the ear. The relationship between the eight notes uses an ancient tuning system, believed to be beneficial to the human mind and body.

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On Thursday evening, the only dinner for 50 years was hosted in Milkbank House inviting guests to spend an extended time with Wave Decay Sonotorium

Wave Decay Sonotorium was made possible with the kind support of DG Unlimited, Dumfries and Galloway Council, The Stove Network, The Holywood Trust, Robin Bell-Irving, Will, Ruth and Graeme Anderson, Robbie Coleman, Matt Baker, Mairi Singleton and the take down team family Wallace! Huge thank you’s are due to you all.

Full details of the project are available on our website, available here

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In Memoriam

Our relationship with ex-houses is an interesting one. Buildings and ruins, scattered across overgrown fields and forests, down forgotten cul-de-sacs, and behind tall fences in gloomy urban areas; the romantic in us all pines for the loss of a thing that we never knew.

The empty home inspires tales of loss and separation, of a neglect and abandonment of the old ways. It is a kick in the teeth to the old ways and we as a culture appear to mourn these forgotten states.

The lost living rooms, the last dinners, the encroaching wilderness that wraps our forgotten ruins up in a shroud, fills our eyes with a jewel-dusted mysticism, and the placing of concept, the reimagining of ‘home’ in true Grand Design’s style – of rescuing, and reviving, performing true and authentic restoration to these crumbling pasts – is heralded in the act of preservation and protection of our culture.

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The places that fall outwith the realms of saving; be they too big, too ugly, in the wrong place geographically, or simply not special enough to warrant any real attention are left to quietly disperse into the undergrowth. To be swallowed up, imperceptibly slowly but the steady but inevitable creep of the wild.
These are our dreaming spaces.
Free for projection, imagination and a certain freedom of exploration – of wandering, exploring and discovering first hand (as has been discovered first hand by so many before you), the true wonders of this individual place that exists only here, and only for now.

Throughout my practice explorations of home, of place made familiar, and emotionally nested from the world at large, and these ruins of homes, monuments to the very idea of home at all, have featured from time to time.

My first intimate and extensive exploration of a site was in 2010, a small and extremely unknown location whom, if you can take confidence with any of the older (perhaps oldest) members of our local village, will tell you was once called Hilltop House, and was last lived in in a time beyond living memory, just. The last living man who was known to live there as a boy was himself an elder of the village in the 1950’s.

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The first experiment at Hilltop House was one of lighting. Once unoccupied, these ruins return to darkness with the fading of the suns daily rhythms, so late one Thursday in early April, we sat vigil in the remains of Hilltop House and filled the place with light. With precious few walls or roof, the sounds of the evening are welcomed in to the forgotten ruin, and the sparks may fly unabated. The whole thing was shot in black and white analogue film camera, (potentially romantic overkill), and accompanied by at least one large bottle of wine.

Other experiments included refurnishing, (carrying the entire contents of my parents living room along a half mile track through the woods), of filming and then recreating offsite in full size cardboard replica (not worth the effort), of projecting new memories and new ghosts – forcing life back into the corpse-house. Littered along the pathway en route to the house were found strange collections, under one tree a households worth of glass recycling, under another kitchen tiles – mostly in pieces – and within the remains of the house itself, a tree girthed tightly by the iron cast door of a once-stove front.

The last farewell to Hilltop House was given, with full ceremony and celebration – and the company of friends and family, gathered for what we expected to be the last dinner in Hilltop House. The fire lit in the fireplace’s remains, (the chimney less drawing, as guiding the fire) the meal was laid across white tablecloths, glasses toasted and food shared. At the conclusion each guest carried their own chair home with them along the woodland path.

The work was not well received by my art college tutors (perhaps because they were not invited), and the project came to it’s own natural conclusion. Hilltop House lay silent again.

In 2016, a new opportunity arose to revisit some of these themes. Milkbank is a somewhat grander affair. Known locally with a certain amount of tenderness, the tragedy of Milkbank – of such a beautifully crafted building left to disrepair after such a short time as a residential location, of the death of the son McIlDowie during the construction, and the shortened life of the first Bell-Irving for whom Milkbank was constructed. It is a place of local knowledge, and it is accepted as part of the local landscape, although it is absent from the maps and guides of the area, and was technically demolished in the 1950’s. This has been my home-monument.

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To bring life back, even temporarily to these empty and drafty buildings, to invite exploration, and intimate gatherings places the history of our culture out of the museum cabinets and into every day conversation and discovery. Potential and possibility arise from unexpected corners.

Interpreting or interacting with these places is one of balance, seeking neither to over power or be over taken by their own stagnant attraction. Issues of scale, colour, object, shape and material became my obsession.

Light is powerful. It rules our interactions,, our comfort-levels, it directs us and shapes our movements. Next time we’d like more light.

By removing one sense, we must entirely re-draw our understanding of our environment. Adjust our step and reinterpret place. Reverberations create new space where previously there was none, hidden between the cracks of the physical present. Acoustics are a big learning curve. Our understanding of sound is complex and mysterious.

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Dinner is of much more importance than it might seem. The trivial and the everyday also creates space, for new conversations, exchange and discovery. I may have forgotten the salt (and the spoons), but the act of sharing invites us all to participate together. Dinner is a potentially powerful art process.

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.

There’s Something in the Water

New projects, new explorations.

Dumfriesshire, Moffat HydropathicJourney #1: To Moffat, in search of magic water. Chatting to my granny today about her father, who upon getting plurosy whilst in Dunbar one Winter was sent to the Moffat Hydro and made to drink hideous tasting water. And of a friend of hers from Lochmaben, who’s father whenever he felt unwell would send her to fetch a lemonade bottle of water from the well at Moffat. Whichever way you look at it, there’s something in the water at Moffat. The most well known source of health-giving water is Moffat Well, but further up towads Hart Fell is a lesser known spring with, depending on your research a much more ancient history.DSC_0635_lowres DSC_0634_lowres(I suppose John may have ‘re’ discovered it after a period of time.) If you’re wondering, the taste is not much better than my great grandfather suggested, but as the rain water has filtered through the changing layers of geological strata (input from a geologist would be appreciated to set me straight on my ‘crumbly, black, chalky rock’, my ‘pale blue, slate-y rock’ and ‘iron mineral-y deposit’ definitions), it’s definitely taken on the flavour of the land.

We gathered too many rocks, which are sat out in a neat row in the studio. This first journey, was in fact, a journey to the starting point, the source point from which all journeys will now emanate in the spirit of this project. The act of walking from my point, has always been to seek a moment entirely in the present – to move through space at exactly the pace of that moment, without past or future limitations, just the incline of the hill to slow the going. This project introduces a new layer, whereby journey through landscape becomes journey through myth, legend and ancient storytelling, placing ourselves to a degree within the narrative. It’s a fasinating, if difficult to grasp concept.

Have ancient feet walked over this path? How did the view differ to characters of legend?

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(probably more trees. a lot more trees)

What would Merlin have made of our windfarms?

Spring Fling in Brydekirk

It’s that time of year again in D&G, as open studio event fevour kicks off at the end of this month for just three days. For 2015, Studio’s 78 and 79 are in Brydekirk, seeing the first artists exhibiting in the village from my work-in-progress studio. Myself, and jeweller Jo Garner will be sharing the Old Church Hall, or the Sunday School Hall if you’re properly local, before I begin works to change it into my full time studio and residence.

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Looking for where we are? Here’s a good hint… (less the snow – hopefully)

Preview evening takes place on Friday, 22nd of May from 6pm till 8pm. So if you can please join us to celebrate the first public outing of my hall since it changed into my hands last August, and us at our most enthusiastic before the weekend hits properly!

Spring Fling runs Saturday 23rd, Sunday 24th and Monday 25th of May from 10am to 6pm.

As an additional Spring Fling treat, The Stove have teamed up with caterers Scrumptious and artist David Ralston to bring a new project Running on Empty, which will be touring the region during the weekend providing locally made and sourced food. The Running on Empty-mobil will be making it’s final pit stop at The Old Church Hall in Brydekirk from 1.30pm to 3.30pm on Monday 25th of May, please do join us in welcoming Scrumptious to the village and stop by to see what they have on offer.

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On show, I’ll have some examples of previous work, including my most recently exhibited work Salt of the Earth (fresh from Berlin and Gracefield in Dumfries…), I’ll be running a drop in workshop, and also looking to gather information and stories about the village, there will be conversations about artists in communities, and there will be cake!

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Jo will have a range of her beautiful jewellery on show and be offering some opportunities to get hands on and learn a bit more about her making process.

Full details available online about:

Jo Garner

Running on Empty

Spring Fling

Joining us during the weekend? Let us know by joining our facebook page 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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New Coins for Lockerbie – Part 3

Blogging back-log. Nearly a month ago, the final work was unveiled at Lockerbie Academy, the work of three artists (myself, Morag Macpherson and Kirsty Turpie), the teaching staff at Lockerbie Academy, and nearly 150 students from the school who were involved variously designing fabrics, collaging and casting. The final piece now has pride of place in the schools main foyer.

Image credit: Barry Young

Image credit: Barry Young  

It’s been a rewarding project ultimately, as over a period of five weeks we built up relationships with students, got pretty indepth into our cuttlefish knowledge, actively encouraged risk-taking and mistake making designs, and for everyone to find ‘one think they liked about their work’… They surprised me too in the end, as we had arguements over sharing art work, and heated discussions about the value of public art, and the point of art making in the first place. Pretty deep stuff from an intelligent bunch. Even if they did think MacDonald’s would ultimately make Lockerbie the town of their dreams.

Image: Barry Young

Image: Barry Young

Image: Barry Young

 Image: Barry Young

There was a pretty orange theme running through my workshops. On a side note, has anyone ever managed to buy these gloves in SMALL sizes? Really, large ones are clearly designed for giants.

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What is art for? Why do we make art? Who do we make art for? I worked with three first year class groups, all of whom were buzzing with ideas and potential answers for these questions, as well as suggestions for improvement in their own locale. Debate over the cost of bronze sheep these days rose high over the classroom, I as the ever unhelpful answer could give no definitive value as to the current market value of bronze… but hey, artists can’t know all the answers, right?

Finally, a big THANK YOU to Spring Fling, the amazing enthusiastic arts department at Lockerbie Academy, the three classes I worked with and the wonderful students, Kirsty, Morag for all your patience and insight, and Barry Young for taking the photographs. Thank you!