“Sometimes, I feel like I am just a pair of walking boots and a notebook”
This quote comes from a BBC World Service documentary, ‘River Spirits’, and was spoken by my friend and collaborator Valerie Gillies, one of several poets who have had a significant and direct influence on my creative process as an artist.
It was while I was a student at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in my home city of Dundee that the artist and tutor Will Maclean introduced me to Valerie and her work. Up to that point, poetry and literature had had an important role in the development of my work, but meeting and working with Valerie had a fundamental and profound effect on me as a practitioner and on my future artistic journey.
Working in collaboration with writers has broadened my approach to creating new works, in all aspects of how I research, compose and develop my work. The idea of 'walking boots and a notebook' ties in with not only getting out in the field and collecting and researching your chosen subject, but also to visiting museums and collections, sitting with a pile of books in the peace of a library or discussing new possibilities and ideas with poets. It has also opened up new paths to subject mater that I would never have previously considered.
Currently I am working on three very different collaborations, with poets Isobel Dixon, Gordon Meade and Donald S. Murray. Although all feature the natural world as their subject, each will be taking very different paths.
From real and imaginary birds that inhabit our coastlines and dreams to the fragility of our planet and the constant threat of extinction that faces the natural world, my new work will continue to be inspired and driven by the written word.
Look out for further posts on The Net Mender featuring the new collaboration projects.