Katie Anderson

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

Tag: public art

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

 

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

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 […]

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

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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.

what is valuable about workshops?

Following a recent spurt of workshop facilitating and leading on various projects, the art of running a workshop has been sifting through my work, with a particular focus on ‘what the point’ of workshops are. Aside from the obvious, artist goes into a place and shares their ideas, skills or inspiration with a ‘community’ of peoples, gathered whether in interest, geographical location or as a captive audience – schools groups etc and produces some kind of output, of artistic merit or otherwise. (what community? for whom? to inspire what? in order to achieve what?)

Now call me pessimistic, but these seem somewhat large demands to achieve in one to three hour time periods with a bunch of complete strangers gathered without necessary a common thread between them.

Conversations have begun to focus around several key areas or ideas towards the making of something with true potential to be useful, to grow something new, and to inspire possibility in a near future sense. These are potentially starting points towards more carefully examining the role of an artist within a ‘community’ setting (other words or terms for these groups of people very welcome).

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What does it take to provide a real sense of attachment to our ideas or projects? How can such a short time period spark interest and create future inspirations, ask broad questions about our places?
How do we grow relationships and connected-ness with other people?
We ask a lot of workshops.

Share and Exchange
There is a basic trade between artist and ‘community’, where one party can exchange knowledge, connection, place-based meaning, history and heritage with the application of skill-sharing, whether introducing a new skill or more a way of looking at a problem/point of view.
Questions: Value exchange – how do we place value and hold value to knowledge/skills etc? How do we preserve these values once exchanged?
Ownership – keeping respect, and consideration for all parties, and an openness towards the future prospects of such trade and exchange.

Image: Barry Young

Making as Conversation
Repetitive actions, learning exchange and the complexities of ‘figuring it out’ make for interesting conversations for groups or communities without necessarily having a lot of common ground or relationships already. These are safe places, neutral environments for casual discussion, exploratory conversations and open questions. Like sewing circles or knitting bees, where ideas and gossip can be exchanged without fear of retribution or exclusion, the act of making provides a rhythm for questions – both big and small.

Meeting points and Common Ground
Creating connection via a sense of shared environment, time and skill. This is less of an instant reaction, more of a sense of collective space and ownership – and can only be built up gradually, and through repeated or regular activity.

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Invitation and Hospitality
Space creation (see neutral environment above), and welcoming. Creating the right invitation to encourage interaction, and participation. Openness and flexibility to unexpected factors, playing with and being responsive to already existent structures.

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The Authentic self and an openness to change
All the while keeping hold of a sense of yourself and your work, creating environments, events and activities where this can be openly shared with a collective group/‘community’ etc. This is the artist not as all seeing, applying a template to whichever community they land in, but as open and willing to change and adapt to suit to localities.

Housing Activism and the Artist – Inspirations and Thought Processes

Question #1: Can artists be part of changing and creating residential activity on our high streets and in our town centres? Can artists and artist-led projects impact change in these ways in our towns?

We discussed examples in America, including the work of Theaster Gates, who’s creative property development in parts of Chicago, through the founding of the Rebuild Foundation, such as the Dorchester Art + Houseing Collaborative which provides residence for both artists on residency and local community members, growing collaboration, conversation and activity between both groups.

Theaster Gate's Dorchester Projects. Image: House past and present (2013) Image: Sarah Pooley

Theaster Gate’s Dorchester Projects. Image: House past and present (2013) Image: Sarah Pooley

Could such a thing be possible in Scotland? Could planning laws, available funds and communities allow for such a growth? Do artists have the skills necessary to do this? (This was a bit difficult to answer in a straightforward way). The Vennel in Dumfries was quickly brought up, and it was agreed by most that it was high time they got back to Dumfries to re-think the place. (I mentioned there was no need to rush, town centre change is a gradual thing we are in early stages of!) This was part of a series of discussions exploring what a more cultural high street would look like, as part of Architecture and Design Scotland’s annual Place Challenge conference in Arbroath.

Four days later, location: The Black-E, Liverpool. Context: Liverpool Biennal’s Community Arts Conference. The final panel is up after a day of sometimes heated discussions, and a definite division between audience and panellists/organisers. There is a palpable tension in the room, and a twitchy-ness from several hours sat listening in artificial light.

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This is the panel of my dreams; artists Jeanne van Heeswijk and Nina Edge, members of Homebaked and the Granby Community Land Trust, and design collective Assemble. Individually, each of these speakers presents an inspirational story of collaborative approaches, creative process, community intervention and making the impossible possible. Collectively, this was a place that stood up for their place and worked together to fight back for lost causes, and the history of many.

Nina Edge raises a curious point – of seven areas in Liverpool threatened with demolition, only three remain currently intact, and each of those areas has worked directly with creative practitioners of some form. It seems like creativity can galvanise and help create change in these communities. Nina’s work on committee evidence documents, and affecting legislature did not go un-praised.

What was most notable was the way these different artists and organisations had worked together, in support of each other and in solidarity. Also of note, from Homebaked was that without the support of the large scale ‘institutions’ (demonised somewhat throughout the day), in this case the Biennial, for being the bolster to push through small independent projects like Homebaked into securing the premises and holding back the bulldozers.

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(Apologies for any paraphrasing, it was a long day)

Interesting week! Arbroath was an interesting challenge in discussion leading, in lots of ways not super successful as a discussion – but a useful opportunity to speak about the Stove in a slightly different way to a new audience, and to think about the aspirations and potential of creative practice, as an alternative way of problem solving, communicating and creating change in our places. Liverpool was intense listening to a pocket-sized history of community arts in the city, and looked to focus predominantly at ‘what we could learn’ from what had gone before, a slightly idealistic notion of teaching the upcoming artists to appreciate what had come so far (noteably the audience, was not predominantly younger – by my eye at least.)

Notes: It’s not all black and white. Large scale institutions have a responsibility, as –largely, comparatively- well funded organisations, to be risk-taking and forward thinking about any ‘outreach’ work they undertake. Larger institutions should not, by right deliver all ‘community art’ outreach in their areas, as are often not best suited to doing so, however much they may be required to reach their organisations out to wider audiences, the real-time benefits to their communities appear to be limited.

Artists equally have a responsibility: we are not outwith ‘community’, but should perhaps be an integral part of it. We should be part of creating our places, and can input from being pebbles in ponds, to being connectors and links, question-ers, provokers, testers, builders and researchers. This isn’t to say that artists should only work locally, this sounds to be a balance, between building long term connections with place to growing new opportunities and bringing fresh energy into other places, either those with less creative energy in them or to work alongside the creative energy already present.

Now, to spend the next while not using the word ‘community’.