Following my progress during MA studies at Edinburgh College of Art, this blog originally documented my first year after graduation, and my attempts to create a sustainable practice. It shows the activities I have been involved with in making this a reality, and the new path my studies will take. Using a blog is also a method of documenting work and exploring critical thought, which is a requirement of the course at Edinburgh.


Another project we worked on whilst being exiled from the studio was A World of Ego Close to the Gods. 

Given the opportunity to use the Embassy Gallery in Edinburgh for 4 weeks, we had to come up with a project which would satisfy everyone involved – both MA and MFA students.

We settled on a table based exhibition which ensured all participants had a level playing field – the same amount of 30x3o cm table to work with. The idea of a kind of anthropological display with a note to representing oneself as an artist in either an object or intervention on this compact space. The idea of breaking down hierarchies in a simple way yet left up to the individual to contribute in that way they felt appropriate.

The tables were beautifully made – two fellow students having excellent woodworking skills – but perhaps some of the work almost seemed an afterthought. Which I expect is quite often the case in a project such as this.

I ended up managing the project, something I have experience in and I particularly enjoy. Perhaps a desire for control or just a joy in organising and seeing/making things happen. A few hitches along the way providing challenges and learning points which were welcomed. Learning the new skill of van driving will stand me in good stead, I know it.

Gaining drinks sponsorship, arranging a successful opening night with live music, sorting out invigilation and organising everything in between is all part and parcel of an event such as this. It was really time consuming but ultimately worthwhile as we pulled off a very successful event.

Looking back it was a good distraction, with no working space to be had, but with the weeks flying by I now am struggling to concentrate on preparing for the final show in August.

I find myself too often distracted by outside concerns and I wonder how the artists/students who seem completely engaged all the time do it. Maybe I am too in touch with my own reality, or perhaps I see that completely as part of my practice.



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Just after my long ago last post, we had an “end of term” assessment.

There has been a bit of a hiatus or lull in many things since then. Feedback was exceptionally late, also: Unfortunately, due to lack of space in the college, we were obliged to move out of our studios to a small space where only the smallest of work can be made. Often these conditions can indeed be the starting point for something different – forced change can create exceptional solutions.

However usually it is just a pain in the behind.

I had decided to continue with my Numbers project and make a much larger, life sized version – the physicality reflecting ourselves in our surroundings. Making large size sculptural pieces with little space to do it in was perhaps not the best idea, but sometimes once you are in the thick of it, there is no going back.

Having a steadfast commitment to finishing a piece of work, despite setbacks, cost, logistical challenges and lack of resource is something I’d say I have. Not purely a stubborn attitude but more not being put off when someone says it can’t be done – more about let’s think how we can do it.

So finish them I did, finally, and they were shown last week at the Talbot Rice Gallery.

This came about as a integral part of the course – working with the curators there to make a show of our peer group.

Initially we were to send an artist statement and images for them to gain an insight to our practice. Later there were studio visits and an ongoing negotiation about what works would be shown and how.

This was a valuable experience, dealing with curators in this way – making decisions about the placement and display of work in a larger space in relation to others work sometimes a consideration overlooked.

We still don’t have adequate studio provision and the time has come now to begin to prepare for our graduate show in August. I hope the energy that has come out of showing in a gallery such as this will carry us through, and the determination and commitment to our work will not be lessened.




Contradictorily, being at the same time excellent and terrible at managing time and tasks  – I have still not got any better at it. Widely too interested and distracted in far too many things all at once. It is something which is reflected in my practice – the issue of focus. This has come up before, but I haven’t addressed it for a number of reasons.

We are so flighty in today’s world – so many images, it can feel as if we are bombarded. It is no wonder we can suffer from a lack of ability for concentration or an overload. That being said, it is something you can train yourself in and get better at. Equally, in terms of focus regarding matters of practice, it is perhaps easier to not have focus – by this I mean a sitting on the fence, a safe position, an unwillingness to say exactly what the point or meaning is.

Going through the motions of writing and rewriting a statement to reflect on practice now, has been helpful in the clarification of what I am exploring. Having the opportunity to meet and discuss ones practice with a variety of people has also been of benefit – we are lucky to have a number of visiting artists and people working in the art world available for tutorials on a regular basis. However, all this talking is yet another distraction from making.

It is wanting to be involved and take advantage of all that is on offer in this course (getting value for money, of course) versus doing the necessary work – I mean production of work – to make it successful which I find difficult, achieving the right balance is problematic.

A short visit to Manchester, another distraction (but welcome) in which to consider another centre of art evolving and the parallels with places such as Glasgow. One image:

And finally a breakthrough with a repeat print – definitely something to go on:


Last week brought about the culmination of a collaborative project I have been working on for a few weeks.

Part of our course requires us to work collaboratively in a group of 3 students to use a project space (empty room) to create a show/event/happening – as an extension to your practice, and give the opportunity to work with different people and perhaps in a different way to learn something new and gain from the experience.

I had thought about collaborating with some other students before so it felt natural to be able to begin to work together – having seen Joan Stack’s ( work in the studio, I could see how our practices could really compliment each other.

We also worked with Emily Gray, who has great experience not just in fine art production but in curatorial practice – we felt this could be an exciting way to work directly with a curator on a short term project such as this.

Joan and I are particularly intrigued by aesthetic and material quality and had wanted to create something installational and all encompassing.

The working process felt  like a 3-way conversation and ideas developed concerning individual elements of our practice: exploration of the everyday world, making sense of it through visual exploration of material, cognitive experience of environments, aesthetic value, form and compositional relations of the physical/object/space.

We wanted the work to create tensions between the solid and fragile and look at the balance between clear and unclear. For me especially, the commercial and commodity and the examination of value symbols highlights the ambiguous nature of values in such things as arbitrary numbers, objects and representational images.

We thought about the viewer’s position – wanting to allow them to engage with the space and our work in an active way, the temporary aesthetic allowed us to develop a playful and less precious approach to making. We thought about it being like a visual argument which helped nonsensical elements to unfold.

Another aspect was challenging the traditional idea of frame, through the medium of expanded painting. So this installation touched on the state of our contemporary society; the result of a flat-pack generation ideal – reminiscent of IKEA show floor – that has many co-existing realities.

Manipulation of material, repetition, and motifs from painting, sculpture and curatorial practices are brought together to create an experience based intervention. Juxtaposing alternate realities and looking at small differences between the two practices have the outcome of an almost seamless coming together in a visual conversation. The work developed was a direct and intuitive response to each other, how we work, our materials and our conversations.

We called it same, same but different. We felt this highlighted the fact that our practices are very similar but we had chosen to investigate and highlight these small differences within one piece of work.

We had some good feedback from those who attended the opening and crit – however some people felt that the result was too messy and confused, or perhaps even contrived. However, within the parameters of the project and what we achieved, it felt really successful – engaging viewers in a different way and being able to create work which had a strong focus on materiality, aesthetics and composition.



The most recent crit we have had took very different structure to all so far on the course. The idea being that 3 people take part – a speaker, a responder and a listener. The speaker speaks about their work and presents a challenge or problem they would like help resolving  uninterrupted for 15 mins. The responder then answers/responds to this for 10 mins and the listener sums up and takes notes. It seems quite a formal way of undergoing crits – but a welcome change from the more ambiguous ones we sometimes have.

Although our group didn’t stick strictly to this format, it was definitely more structured and felt like something was being achieved in each case. In my own case the questions or challenges were based on the issues of:

The meaning in the work – how it can be successfully portrayed, not just “put in” – or even if it needs to be implicit?

With the ambiguity surrounding the potential meanings, for me this is appealing but I wonder if this places too much responsibility on the viewer.

Is it necessary to have agenda or imposed meaning or can it be ambiguous and really about many things on different levels?

Can form and aesthetic be more important than meaning and intention?  As sometimes abstract aesthetic doesn’t feel enough..

I really should have included a discussion topic of suggestions of what to do next(!) but maybe that is asking for too much…

Throughout the discussion I really felt like I managed to answer my questions myself – which is definitely a positive outcome. Almost the “defending” of one’s practice makes you understand it better which in turn allows you to resolve certain aspects with greater ease.

However, I still struggle with the idea of having a particular meaning and aesthetic not being “enough”. It feels as people are constantly searching for meaning and the possibility or necessity of providing that seems to weigh heavily. I feel I need to resolve this in whatever way I want to and not be apologetic about it.

Verdict: Have a little more faith or conviction in the process, and what I am investigating.