Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Scottish Energy

I don't know what has happened over the last few months but there seems to be an unstoppable maelstrom of creative energy centred over Scotland. Perhaps it is the fact that I've become more active in the creative culture around me but I feel that there is something amazing brewing here and I am not exactly sure what it is. Everywhere I go, I'm surrounded by people who are not only sparking with ideas but who spark ideas in me. There is a creative synergy which is driving everyone to new heights and, I'm pleased to say, a lot of it is collaborative.

My weekend started in Edinburgh on Friday night. I went through to see the play, "Burke" by Caroline Dunford which was being staged as a one-off event in the catacombs of Mary King's Close and in which my friend, Mark Kydd, was appearing as every character who was not "Burke" or "Hare"; an excellent choice for near-hallowe'een!

On Saturday, I spent the morning in the National Museum of Scotland. I went along to see their exhibition "Creative Spirit: Revealing Early Mediaeval Scotland" which though interesting, proved to be very small. In fact, four exhibits! Using digital technologies and contemporary craftspeople, it aims to recreate fragmentary artefacts from the Picts and Gaels. As it took about 30 minutes to absorb all of this, I headed off to my favourite section of the museum, exploring mediaeval and renaissance Scotland and getting ideas for new pieces.

Jougs or Scold's Bridle -

I was especially taken with this, which I have seen before but have never really studied: a "Scold's Bridle" or "Jougs" which are an ancient device for punishing - specifically - women who gossip. As far as I am aware, it was not used on men. My thoughts are that I now want to use this idea to create a piece about the freedom of the press and the recent shockers around the Leveson enquiry in the UK but it is all still rather unformed in my mind.

Given that we are now in November which has been transformed into the facial-hair festival of Movember, I spotted this mediaeval carved door:

Mediaeval John Byrne

Which really reminded me of the wonderful John Byrne's self-portraits:

Another self-portrait by John Byrne

Should you find yourself at the museum, make sure you visit the roof-terrace, which has a spectacular view of the city, even on a dull November day:

National Museum Panorama

After the gallery, I met up for lunch with one of my contacts from Twitter, Gordon, who posts as @scotstreetstyle and who is one of the people responsible for my sense of something dynamic happening in this country. Gordon is pulling together groups of creative people he finds interesting; his policy is inclusive and he has so far arranged one event - with two more to follow - which aim to do nothing more than bring together like-minded, creative people. He is a catalyst, an energiser and that appears to be his "hobby", his day-job being something altogether more grounded and real. Despite that, he spends hours in promoting and connecting Scottish creatives. The world needs more people like this! Gordon't social medium of choice is Instagram.

The dissemination of the exhibition, "Bring Back The Dead" was also completed this weekend when I picked up my piece from Jo Garner, the wonderful "Grim Reaper" ring by Mark Fenn.

Grim Reaper Ring - 3

Grim Reaper Ring - 2

As this was my favourite piece in the show, I am very, very happy!

On the subject of Jo Garner, it was next off to her newest show, the ACJ Edinburgh "Chromatic" exhibition, about how jewellers use colour in their work. This was a surprising show as it was very, very subtle throughout and the work was uniformly interesting and very fresh.

Chromatic - 1

My personal favourite in this show was the little enamelled city by Jessica Howarth:

Chromatic - Jessica Howarth

These objects all come apart to give a wearable piece and function as both jewellery and sculpture. There are better images at her website, linked above.

Chromatic - Fiona Hermse - 2
Work by Fiona Hermse.
Jo's own work was represented by a collection of rings exploring "red" through the use of garnets, an interesting and unusual approach and display:

Chromatic - Joanne Garner - 2

The exhibition runs until the13th November, at Patriothall Gallery, WASPS Studios, 1d Patriothall, Hamilton Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 5AY and is well worth seeing.

Chromatic - Jaimie MacDonald - 3
Work by Jaimie MacDonald.
Exhibiting in the show are Caroline FinlayEleanor SymmsFiona HermseFiona LuingJaimie MacdonaldJessica HowarthJoanne GarnerKrzyzstof Borkowski and Nicola Turnbull.

On Sunday, I visited the new studio of my friend, Jeff Zimmer, the glass artist of whom I have previously written. He was finishing off some work for The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh - an august institution - and was showing off some of his new works:

Jeff Zimmer - Glass Works - 1

Jeff Zimmer - Glass Works - 2

During my visit, we had an unexpected arrival in the form of Patti Niemann, of whom I wrote in the "Scotland The What" exhibition, which was fantastic fun. Jeff is based in the Edinburgh Stained-Glass Studios and I took the opportunity to take some shamelessly appealing photographs of the glass on a sunny - but icy - autumn morning!

Edinburgh Stained-Glass Studios - 2

Edinburgh Stained-Glass Studios - 3

Although we haven't really worked out any details, Jeff and I are going to collaborate on a piece. Based on Peter Greenaway's film, "The Draughtsman's Contract", he is going to use the old spectacle-glass lenses to create pieces for me to set into a collar, the piece being titled "An Eye For Optical Theory" after one of the Michael Nyman tracks on the soundtrack - incidentally based on a Purcell ground.

An Eye for Optical Theory

Back in the workshop, I've been doing more on "Futurism" and although it doesn't look like much has happened, I am much closer to finishing the central element.

Futurism - WIP - 15