Reflecting on Light and Dark

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I was recently invited to give a guest lecture at The Shetland College to all the National Certificate Art and Textile Degree students. I completed my NC in art at Shetland College to build a portfolio before applying to Gray’s School of Art, so being given the opportunity to speak about my practice to the students felt like a full circle moment.
It was a very reflective process to discuss my ongoing successes in the art world but also to consider some aspects that may be classed as failures, I spoke a lot about learning from mistakes, being experimental with your practice and mostly taking these so called “failures” as a way to develop and grow. I found it really productive to look back at how I formed my practice and question why I make the art that I make. I’m proud of everything I have accomplished relating to my own personal practice and setting up Visual Artist Unit with my lovely colleagues and art family. I still however have an infinite list of goals to reach and am more motivated than ever to keep the momentum running.

A special thanks to Paul Bloomer for inviting me to take part and to Faye Hackers for organising the talk- and to the students; I wish you all great success in the art world.

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Passing hail showers

Talking through my work at Shetland College was specifically helpful as I have been stuck in my mind a lot recently. Apart from sketches I havent been making much work but I have been mostly planning and developing ideas. I feel like I’m always banging on about the light in Winter. The lack of it, the quality of it, the angle and lowness of it. The big ball of gas in the sky sure can have a major effect on your day!

Theres this wonderful book that I urge you to read, ‘The Idea of North’ by Peter Davidson. In the books epilogue titled “Keeping the Twilight” it reads:

‘Alone in the winter afternoon, suddenly you notice the light failing. Outside, the first mists gather in the distance, vapours over the fields. The inevitable moments of loneliness. You ask yourself why you have left your friends behind in the cities to the south. Too late to go. Too late to go there now. Think of the length of the journey, impossible to start now with the light going.’

 

I do enjoy many elements of winter in the North, the extreme weather, the preparation of really bundling yourself up to go outside and an excuse to burn candles all evening long. If we had a bit more light I feel we could really apprecaite and utilise the wild winter months more up here. With street lights being very few and far between in a lot of Shetland, the dark is extremely dark with next to no light pollution. Once the sun has disappeared theres not much point in trying to stay outdoors. However the intense darkness is something I really love about being home on Fair Isle – you can see every single last star on a clear night and when the Aurora makes an appearance they look even brighter from such a remote island.

There’s a palpable heaviness felt in so many countries right now, every news or media outlet is covered with talk of terrorism, violence, death and war. With all the extreme sadness and confusion that is consuming this mad world at the moment, I believe light is something important to focus on.

As I’ve written time and time again in this blog, the lethargic heaviness of winter is consuming. When these feelings are piling up I find it comforting to read of others experiences, how the darkness weighs on them and how they distract their minds with work, or play, or hibernation.
During these times I like to consider what place light has in my own art practice. The use of materials such as resin and glasswax allows for some great experimentation as to how light can relate to a material or a piece of work. When I was living in Finland I became really engrossed with quality of light, colour specifically and how it interacts with ice. Those winter qualities were in my mind when I made the below piece titled ‘Tundra’ and now we are back to the dark Winter months I feel an urge to make more work surrounding those themes.

Tundra, 2015. 30cm x 30cm

Tundra, 2015. 30cm x 30cm

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Textural detail of ‘Fragments II’ 2014.

For the moment I am spending a lot of time of the verge of hibernation but trying to keep my mind engaged with reading, writing, drawing and exploring the Winter…Some much needed time in the studio will help to soothe my mind and hopefully produce some interesting work.

Until next time, my friends xx

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