Katie Jo Anderson

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

Notes towards Thinking: Public Art

Eyes down. Nose to the grindstone.

The Stove is everything. Studio practise has been on hold the past couple of months, though this is not necessarily a bad thing – an elongated pause.

That bit of needed focus which I found up at SSW has been applied to collective Stove work since my return.

Our trip to Bordeaux allowed for (amongst other things) a collective focusing, and with it a discovery of the true potential of this heightened, extended, collective focus.

Knowing public art is one of my big obsessions currently as I try to understand and focus my excitement and interests.

‘Have some art and everything will be better.’

Perhaps rather than ‘have some’ this should be a more active ‘make some’.

Back2Back Dumfries - last year at the Stove on Guid Nychburris Day

Back2Back Dumfries – last year at the Stove on Guid Nychburris Day. Stencils designed by youth group YES

The nature of involving communities, engaging communities in a collective and collaborative public art process, in a way that is meaningful and inspiring.

Public art projects that could become a call to action, a means for equipping local residents with new creative ways of engaging with their surroundings.

Lisa Gallacher's flags form part of the Creetown Ferry Bell alongside the A75 on the edge of the village

Way marking/signposting sculpture/art. Lisa Gallacher’s flags form part of the Creetown Ferry Bell alongside the A75 on the edge of the village

Meaningful decision making

Voicing opinions

Encouraging a positive, but driven mentality towards a sense of collective contribution, ownership and a shared sense of potential.

Approach.

“So perhaps, instead of asking what state the local economy is in, we should ask what people want their local economy to become!” (NEF, Plugging the Leaks. Page 6) 

Can public art be the means for asking these right questions?

Opening perspectives, encouraging involvement, collectivity, a sense of shared-ness.

Three words for Dumfries. Part of the Nithraid 2013

Asking the right questions. Three words for Dumfries. Part of the Nithraid 2013. Photo: Colin Tennant

How do we create the best mechanisms for discussion?

Familiarity.

Becoming embedded within the local psyche.

Who constitutes ‘local’?

Breaking down barriers.

The physical presence of the artist/arts group/centre/HQ/brain feels somewhat integral to reaching these goals. From projects taking over empty shops or taking to the streets, hands on engagement.

What is discussion?

What are the goals of discussion?

What are the next steps after discussion, and how are these best reached?

I realise my exposure to public art is too limited. And that I am all questions, and half gibbered notes written late at night.

The Stove’s next project is taking to the streets on Guid Nychburris Day.

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Residency. Part 3: Immerse

DSC_1359.72dpi

DSC_1372.72dpiWeek 2 has been an immersive workshop week. Heads down, walking boots put away. Cabin fever had begun to set in by about Thursday and so we wiled away one tea time planning our next walk. Emily and I have both been reading Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain and both being from a reasonable distance away felt the need to make a day trip to the edge of the Cairngorms before our time here was up. The drive there was more arduous than expected, as we chose to go through Tomintoul (I counted at least 6 red phone boxes on the way there) and Aviemore felt like an outlet village for a European ski village, quaint but touristy, unsettling after our relatively rural stint in Lumsden. Not feeling ridiculously adventurous or in the mood for snow gear we settled upon Meall a’ Bhuachaille just up past the Glenmore Forest Park with great views across the bigger mountains.

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We passed just enough other walkers to not feel too disconcerted by the continuously changing weather or that we had to share our walking with much of a crowd, though our walking gear did not quite stand up against the full kit of most of the walkers we met, equipped with everything from poles and gaiters to pick axes and snow masks. Mediating on walking and looking, looking and walking, reaching the summit first gave us time to alter our goal for a more ramble-y route back.

Thinking about siting artworks, and looking, and the aims of walking out into the ‘landscape’, there is something of  a siting/installation/mounting tangle going on at the moment. A work that creates a pause in walking, a moment for ‘looking’ closer/deeper/wider. Potentially it could become a portable pause, an apparatus to be carried over and across the environment to create a new space for looking/listening/seeing. The word looking has become something else through repetition, though it is morphing into a slightly different concept. Seeing is too much about understanding, looking is too shallow, it has become the search for a deeper looking, a looking with more than one sense, an immersive looking, a feeling-looking.

The search continues. The last week is already upon us and the end is in tangible sight but there is a lot yet to be done. Back to the workshops. More updates to follow.

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Cast Solway sand. 2013. VAACMA funded.

 

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Cast Solway sand. On site. 2013. VAACMA funded.

This work speaks for itself. Videos to follow when internet speeds improve. I’m hoping to show these and the rest of the body of work produced as part of the Salt of the Earth (Solway) project in the near future, keep posted for the details.

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Not worth his salt.

Salt of the earth.

Salting the earth – the ritual of spreading salt on conquered cities, a curse on their re-inhabitation.

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Bottled Solway Salt. Salt of the Earth. 2013. VAACMA funded.

Matthew 5:13

“Ye are the salt of the earth

but if the salt have lost his

savour, wherewith shall it be

salted? It is thenceforth good for

nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under

foot of  man.”

Above the salt.

Worth their salt.

Below the salt.

Take with a pinch of salt.

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Cast Solway Salt. 2013. VAACMA funded.

Purifying salt.

Sacrificing salt.

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Sifting, Ordering, Organising

I’ve been ploughing through my little collection of memories and conversations the past couple of weeks, and in sorting it, trying to impose order and a sense of direction on the whole thing – suddenly interesting things have started to happen. The same places pop up, the same knowledge but from a different hand. I’d never heard of ‘Whitewash City’ locally before, although now have heard it several times – and even more surprising, it is indeed Brydekirk, less than five minutes walk from where I currently sit! Curious-er and curious-er.

Available online here: http://www.dgttl.co.uk/index.php?a=wordsearch&s=gallery&key=Wczo1OiJBbm5hbiI7&pg=7

Whitewash City, looking remarkably unchanged since aside from the lack of vehicles. Available online here

So here is a sneak peak, a transcription of a couple of the shorter snippets stretching from Dumfries and the old Wolsey factory to the quay in Annan. Thanks to everyone who has contributed something, no matter how small or insignificant you may have felt it to be!

“It was a five day week and music while you work….that was in the Annan paper many moons – I’m talking about way back – and I thought well this is great, five day week, music while you work… aye, the music was only on half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the afternoon! and just because I was a mechanic and was on the staff, ‘you’ll have to work Saturday mornings,’ said I’m no working… ‘aye you’ll have to get paid while your off’… it was all just a con job!”

W. Anderson

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“My father, my father sold feeds and fertiliser for… oh…. Tweed, eh, Tweedies? Aye, it was Tweedies. Not the Tweedies that y’ken, Dumfries, but the Tweedies they were, eh, seed merchants and things like that at Annan. And I can remember going, when I was a little boy, to the quay, and watching the fertiliser boats coming in.” “Oh really? I didn’t realise there were boats coming in as late as that..” “Aye, and they used to come in to Glencaple as well – so there you are!”

D. Turnball

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“Niven’s quay, the one that’s Tommy.. Nicholson’s.. that’s known as Niven’s Quay because the company that purchased it, and owned Niven’s quay were Niven’s, em, Timber Merchants? Em, and they rented the quay out, they used to export cut timber from Niven’s quay and stuff like that rather than putting it on the roads and rail. So little boats came in, and then the boats that used to come in to take timber brought in fertiliser and all that kind of stuff.”

J. Bonner

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Old view (circa 1900) of Annan Harbour available online here

Old view (circa 1900) of Annan Harbour available online here