I was amazed to learn from a recent Facebook notification that it’s been two years since I made the big studio move – invested in over 100 good solid boxes with lids, hired a van and transported a huge mass of my collections to my friend’s garage. How time flies!

It was after the fiasco of mislaying ‘Bad Head Day’ (a piece of work selected for the Shape Open 2016) that I went through every single box (all 110+) and labelled & listed, as far as possible, what was inside each one of them. It meant having a pretty comprehensive list of the contents of each box and a detailed plan of where each box is situated.

But it was by no means an exhaustive list – moving such a huge bulk of stuff was a mammoth task and the thorough sifting and sorting of the boxes’ contents, lengthy and time consuming. Life has got in the way since then and finding the time to do any further, advanced sorting and labelling has been impossible; I fantasise about having a completely uninterrupted couple of months in which to do it. My main aim is to catalogue every single item in each of the boxes, so that in the future, I’ll have easy access to any given object I might need, at any given point.


This past week, I’ve been searching for a small assemblage piece, composed of broken hearing aids – not catalogued. It will be somewhere, I know – I’ve seen it recently while searching for other bits and pieces – but it just proves the importance of maintaining an effective cataloguing system. It’s frustrating not to be able to locate things when you need them and it all plays into my guilt about holding onto to way too much stuff – making me feel that the bulk of materials I own is unmanageable, needs thinning out – and so on, and so on! – that perpetual cycle of doubt for many collectors, I’d imagine – the amount of stuff versus the amount of space to store it.

It was the editing of the short film – particularly the sound editing – that prompted me to recall past work I’ve made around the theme of deafness – the related objects and images I’ve continued to collect, also.

I’ll find the work eventually, but it’s clear I’ve still got some way to go with the cataloguing. I love this part of the process – gathering together and connecting various objects and found images amid the huge mass of stuff I’ve collected over many years – it is, after all, how my work gets made.

I’m just willing the weather to get warmer now, so that the hunting and gathering, both  in the garage and the studio, can be an even more pleasant experience.



A few weeks have passed now since completing the making of ‘I Always Wanted To Be …’ I became totally engrossed in the film making process and it’s taken me a while to stop feeling completely consumed with thoughts of ballerinas and dance.

Found vintage image


I’m still not sure what to do with the film or how best to show it to an audience, but I don’t feel under any particular pressure to get it ‘out there’ just yet. Bearing in mind that film making was a completely new experience for me and I’ve had (and still have) a lot to digest and process, the timing for making it public feels important. So, it’s parked for now, waiting for when it feels right to launch it.

In the meantime, as so often happens, working on one thing has led to another; I’ve been thinking a lot about sound and levels of hearing – specifically, my own and the struggle I sometimes had with hearing in the final editing process – especially the sound edit. I’ve been thinking about how much my deafness might have impacted on my decision making and general directing of the film. Thoughts around this, in turn, led me to seek out a file that I knew I had stored away somewhere.

Found vintage image


The file is marked simply ‘DEAF’ and in it are various cuttings and images that I’ve collected over the years, relating to deafness, hearing, sign language, communication, etc. It’s fascinating to see how the images relate to each other, however arbitrarily. I also came across a plastic model of the interior of an ear – it’s always exciting to unearth these forgotten ‘treasures.’ Whether or not something comes out of this recent refind remains to be seen, but my focus in the studio today has been on sorting and laying out the raw materials I already have to hand.


The film ‘I Always Wanted To Be …’ is now complete and the blog, which I started in August last year (2016), concluded. ‘Keeping It Moving’ (published on the a-n artists blog website) was created specifically to record the process of making this short film.

Grateful thanks to film maker Henrietta Thomas and to a-n The Artist Information Company for funding the project via a professional development bursary.


Found image from vintage ballerina book



You can read my account of the past five months’ work on my blog here:



‘It’s so obvious when I think about it – how much my mood is affected by the environment in which I find myself and how that in turn, impacts on the work I make. Caught up in the general busyness of life, you sometimes forget these things.’


Post New Year’s Day and looking back. I’ve just looked to see where I left things before heading away for what felt like a much needed break. I wrote the above in my last post here, in December. Today, on the second day of the year, I’m writing this from Scotland, where I’m more acutely aware than ever of how much my environment affects me. It’s not just about the physical environment, one which I love and feel completely at home in – it’s also about the people who live within it. Warm, open people on the whole – Scottish people, renowned for their warm welcome and friendliness.



On a more personal note, visits to Scotland are also about the people who no longer exist. So many of the family homes that for years had been the focal point of visits to my Dad’s birthplace in Ayrshire are no longer there. I’m lucky to have family connections and a place to stay in Edinburgh, but I miss the familiarity and closeness of my Dad’s relatives – the warmth and a true sense of belonging.

Loss is always very much at the forefront at this time of year – Christmas card lists emphasising who’s no longer living, set places at the table highlighting who’s no longer around to join in with family meals – sharp reminders of just how fragile life is.


Callander, December 2016


I’m ending this post with a quote from a new year’s tweet from Harry Leslie Smith, an activist for the poor and for the preservation of social democracy. It feels apt in terms of my New Year’s resolution to be more hopeful and optimistic:

‘Keep faith in love, friendship and democracy & never surrender your human light to the darkness of demagogues.’

Happy 2017 everybody and here’s to everyone getting what they deserve.


Another studio move …

Considering so much of the work I make responds to what’s going on around me, the place in which I create it and store a fraction of my collection (my work material), is clearly important. Signing on the dotted line of the new contract yesterday reminded me just how important my working space is to me. It’s so obvious when I think about it – how much my mood is affected by the environment in which I find myself and how that in turn, impacts on the work I make. Caught up in the general busyness of life, you sometimes forget these things.


On the move (again) Photo: Kate Murdoch 2015


The new studio is light and airy and despite having virtually an entire wall of windows, is slightly warmer than the one I’ve just left – and it’s a half, as opposed to a quarter share, so there’s a little more room to spread out while I’m working. That’s the key, really – having sufficient space to move around in, to be able to stand back from the work and to see it with some degree of space around it. A bigger studio inevitably costs more money, but I’m prepared to sacrifice other expenses in order to try and make it work.

My focus is currently more outside of the studio and on the making of the short film, ‘I Always Wanted To Be …’ (documented on my ‘Keeping It Moving’ blog, here on a-n), but I felt the need to document the new studio here – to mark it as an important event. Just as starting this blog questioned whether or not I’d be able to sustain writing it, at the same time as being creative in the studio, I’m curious to know how much of an impact this new space might have on my work in the future. I’m already excited about working in it in the new year.

So, new year, new start … I’m not wanting to wish the time away, but I’m already excited about the start of 2017 with an improved new space in which to try out new ideas.