Katie Jo Anderson

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

Tag: Lockerbie

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

06lowres

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.

05lowres

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.

1lowres

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

08lowres

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.

2lowres

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.

img_2031

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.

untitled-milkbank-2013-hand-altered-photographs-katie-anderson

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.

1lowres.jpg

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.

Art according to Lockerbie Academy Year 1 Pupils

Hunting for some paper to use for stencils last Friday (as you do – my studio is a veritable stencil den with very little floor space and a lot of oversized stencils… more on which another time), I came across the notes from my last days discussion at Lockerbie Academy during my residency earlier in the year with Spring Fling.

I asked the first year students I’d been working with a couple of questions about art as we had been discussing during my five weeks in their classrooms, and the answers suggested that first years are indeed far more intelligent and clued in than many would give them credit. It was real honour to work with such a wide and varied bunch of young people, some of whom, with any luck might yet find themselves on a journey of curiousity, questioning and learning.

bob and roberta Art makes Children Powerful

A favourite from Bob And Roberta Smith

1. Why do we have art in public spaces?

(The residency saw us creating work as part of a large permanent work, in the foyer of their school – a semi-public space in many ways, and their most influencial public art work was the recently installed Lockerbie Sheep outside the town hall as part of town redevelopment works).

To make it look cool

To Represent something

To tell a story

To commeorate an event or person

To make spaces more interesting

To represent something about our town

For people to share opinions about

As a landmark

kid acne 2

That’ll Learn ‘Em. Kid Acne.

2. Who do we make art for?

(My favourite obsession, audiences and the why’s of art making. This one a little difficult for a lot of our first years, who had never been encouraged to make work other than for sake of it, but were now being asked to donate their artworks for the good of the schools collection, to very mixed responses – rows were had over the collective artwork over individual ownership and authorship.)

Friends and family.

To inspire people

To look at

Everybody – the public

The community the work is in

Yourself.

16366666810_f59143dbcc_o

Image: Barry Young

3. What is art for?

(Always leave the biggie till last!)

Expressing yourself, telling a story.

Leisure. (A real live 11 year old said leisure).

As a Hobby, for happiness.

Makes you happy/peaceful.

To make money.

Learning.

Making places not look boring.

Emphasise things – how we look at things.

Exciting – exploring, learning.

Expressing emotion.

Showing our creativity.

Imaginative.

Because we enjoy it.

Fun. Entertaining.

Do what you love.

Money and fame.

Spontaneous.

Commemorative.

Communication – sharing opinions.

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.

16528111186_394e282aca_o

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!

New Coins for Lockerbie – Part Two

Do something challenging.

Do something new.

Do something that scares you. (Secondary schools are scary. Fact.)

The five week residency at Lockerbie Academy has come to an end, all that’s left is for Morag’s banner to come back from the printers, and the works to be assembled and installed in the school later this month. It’s been a great experience learning from and working with a fantastic bunch of students and teachers at the Academy. Looking back at the first sessions of “I can’t”, of blank walls of silence, it’s near impossible to imagine that these are the same people, flicking through sculpture magazines, questioning the value of public art in their communities, oozing pride and keen to take coins home to show to parents and family, focused and attentive to miniscule details in their pewter castings. We had quite a journey.

matthiaslowres

triangleslowres

xboxlowres

JUIN P 203lowres

banterlowres

moustachelowres

Big thank you’s to Carol, Pete and the staff at Lockerbie Academy, the fantastic classes 1B, 1F and 1G, Morag MacPherson and Kirsty Turpie who have been great to work alongside with, and the Spring Fling team. Images of the final work to follow with the install later this month.

2lowres

New Coins for Lockerbie – Part 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s good to try new things. I’ve recently teamed up with artists Morag McPherson and Kirsty Turpie to work in residence at Lockerbie Academy over five weeks with thanks to Spring Fling. Working with some great teachers, and three groups of first year students we’ve been exploring the history of coins, and are in the process of casting our own collection of individual Lockerbie coins with the help of the Stove’s mobile foundry.

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 22.18.33

 

hobo-nickels

 

We’ve had a lot of chat about the use of coins, the origins of their decoration and the alteration and changing face of coins and currency.

 

0f465502867e1c9329e19f8bdc4cba37

 

Also a bit of chat about Lockerbie’s school emblem, the flying spur and an open book, adapted from the Johnstone (Earl of Annandale) family crest. Always be prepared.

1509765_10152682727949652_5019504030893182458_n Most popular Lockerbie iconography amongst our first years? Sheep, curling, cheese and McDonalds. Go figure. We’ve since been hard at work transfering designs to our cuttlefish moulds already to get pouring when we get back from the luxurious school Christmas holidays.

More to come!