April 23rd, 2008 Doug
As part of a new series of work I have been developing, I have been researching emigration and exile, especially the mass emigrations from Scotland in the 19th and 20th centuries.
With this in mind I was luck enough to have the opportunity to visit Ellis Island, the former emigration centre on the Hudson River in New York, where many hundreds of thousands of European migrants were processed and graded for suitability for entry to the United States. It has been restored and tell the story of the people who made this brave journey into the unknown.
When standing in the Registry Hall (pictured below) it was incredible to think that at times they would deal with around !5,000 people in a day! And even more daunting was the fact that, even after weeks at sea, you could be deemed unsuitable for entry and sent back to Europe on the next ship. The whole journey and subsequent events must have been unbelievable trial of strength and faith for the emigrants.
It was very useful to be able to walk around the buildings and make the short crossing to the island in helping me to formulate the ideas for my project. There is nothing more useful to an artist that first hand experience of subjects and places, in order to get a clear picture of the subject you are dealing with,
I hope the work I produce will be a fitting tribute to the bravery of these pioneering people.
April 2nd, 2008 Doug
What makes me tick most?
A fine collection of poetry, such as Alan Jamieson’s above, probably does more to feed my work than anything else at the moment.
Ever since art college, my main vice has been collections of poems, and currently my studio resembles a library! I love to receive new collections and can’t wait to make the exciting journeys with the writers through their imaginations.
I enjoy working with poets on collaborations and I am currently developing ideas that will allow me to continue the experience.
I consider myself a type of poet or storyteller, though I am replacing words with images.
April 1st, 2008 Doug
Over the last few weeks I have been working with students researching art projects, and during discussions I am often asked what makes me ‘tick’?
I have been lucky enough to have had several working trips to galleries and museums over the last few weeks, and amongst these were visits to two of my favorites; the Pitt Rivers Museum, at Oxford University and the British Museum in London. Any time I visit these museums I fill several pages of my notebooks with writings and sketches to support work that I am developing in the studio.
The Victorian layout of the Pitt Rivers is fascinating and brings out the curiosity in me, with all the dark cases full to the brim of interesting anthropological objects from far flung regions of the world and antiquated labels revealing the use of these bizarre objects including carrying a pair of moles feet in your pocket to ward off toothache!!!
The British Museum is always a great favorite of mine and the beautiful artifacts are a superb source of ideas.
As a self-taught carver, seeing objects such as the Lewis Chessmen fills me with admiration for the craftsmen who produced these superb pieces of art and with a degree of skill that I would love to bring into the work I produce. Some of the religious objects from Ireland and Scotland leave me in awe of their intricate detail and decoration.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to get out and about around some more of our fascinating museums and feed my imagination and language in art. I’m off to New York in a few days adn I’m sure I’ll not be disappointed with the wealth of art I’ll be able to fill my books with!