It wasn’t quite the last box I looked in, but it was close. Over one hundred 30 litre boxes contain a lot of stuff. Editing the contents and transferring items into transparent plastic boxes over the summer, at least means that finding things is relatively easy. Certainly, with the cardboard boxes gone, I don’t have to search quite so thoroughly and most things can be identified pretty easily in the see-through containers without too much rummaging.

I put aside Tuesday as a sorting day in the garage where the boxes are currently being stored, committing myself to being there all day if need be and deciding on a plan of action beforehand; to be focused and systematic in my approach and crucially, to keep going until I found what I was looking for. I was after all, looking for something specific. Organisational skills like this don’t come easily to me and past experience has taught me that I need to be resolute and stick to a plan of action so that I a) persevere and don’t give up on the task of searching and b) prevent myself from getting completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff to sort through.



As it turned out, it took a couple of hours to locate them, and I was finally able to lay my hands on a set of wooden letters that I’m hoping to re-use in a new location in the next few days. They were more concealed than I had expected and Tuesday’s sorting made me realise that the boxes aren’t quite as well organised as I had thought – and hoped. There will be time in the future I’m sure, to fix all that – labels and proper documentation and cataloguing eventually, perhaps – who knows? But for now, finding the letters and heading off to a new location with them feels like a positive step forward. I’ll be back here soon, I’m sure, reporting on how and where I use them.



‘All the long gone darlings …’  Sylvia Plath 

It always feels important to me to properly acknowledge anniversaries; specific dates etched on my brain. October 13th is one of them. In the same year of taking the letters H A M E and placing them around Scottish landmarks in memory of my late father, I placed this small picture frame amid autumn leaves in the Princes Street gardens, Edinburgh in memory of another Scottish relative, dear to me. It was 2009, the year the Scottish Homecoming was launched, a world-wide call to people with any connection to Scotland to come home and celebrate their connection to a beautiful and unique country.

The postcard’s sentiment says it all; always remembered, never forgotten  – another ‘long gone darling’  to quote Sylvia Plath from her extraordinary poem ‘All the Dead Dears.’

RIP Katy.


‘All the long gone darlings …’
Sylvia Plath

Collecting and the consequent sorting process continues to be an integral part of my creative work and the various pieces, created as part of the Nana’s Colours series were developed purely through this process.

I’m always excited when new ideas start to emerge in this way; and adding new pieces develops the creative work even further. I’m more discerning than I used to be, but that doesn’t stop me from continuing to find and introduce new items to my collection, a collection made up of so many different pieces; from swatches of fabric, debris from the streets and beaches, magazine cuttings, family photos, small mementoes of people from my past – all manner of things that for many different reasons, have caught my eye. Any collector will identify I’m sure, with the excitement associated with finding something ‘special’ – however much that might be open to personal interpretation.

Letting go plays a key part in the sorting process – it’s as important to let go of certain objects as it is to hold onto them at times, making way for fresh ideas and inspiration, not to mention creating actual physical space to house the things you really want to hold onto.

I’ve finally got round to making space in my home to accommodate the more precious objects from my collection. These are the things that I felt unable to leave in my friend’s garage or in my new studio, following the massive move I made at the start of the year. Small, precious things, snaffled up at the last minute, wrapped in newspaper and laid carefully in boxes in order to transport them home.

Organisation is key; I like to be able to put my hand to specific objects, if and when I need them – either for a particular piece of work or simply, to reacquaint myself and derive pleasure from seeing and handling them again. Sentimental objects, especially, belonging to people I have loved – ‘all the long gone darlings’ to quote Sylvia Plath from her extraordinary poem, ‘All the Dead Dears.’

I found a bag of unused soap bars in one of my recent searches, carefully preserved in tissue paper and nestled in the corner of a vanity case which had belonged to my Nana. A recent piece of work ‘Five Summers Without You’ came out of this find, made in response to the anniversary of my Nana’s death in September 2010. I selected five soaps to represent the number of summers that have passed since my Nana died – the number of summers we have been without her and the number of summers in which we have no longer bought soap for her birthday. The scent of the soaps takes me right back to being with her, close to her – especially as a child, cuddled up right next to her – sweetly fragrant. The evocative nature of floral scents and perfumes – lily of the valley, freesias, magnolia and roses all come to mind.

There is so much more to explore through delving into the past lives of such ‘long gone darlings’ and bearing in mind that death has had such a strong presence in my life this past year, to do so will require a substantial amount of time and patience. As things stand, I’m unsure about just how much background I want to continue to divulge about the work I make. It’s the subject for a whole other blog post, but it’s a thought I keep returning to. Time will tell, I suppose how this all pans out.

In the meantime, it’s all about getting on with making the work – keeping it going, crucially.