Technical Hitches and Jubilation

I was working towards a set of shadow puppets to be laser cut out of a very thin laminate material, and was very excited about the possible results. I imagined beautiful sharp laser-cut edges on art objects in four colours of shiny laminate, but it seems the CNC routing man had the wrong idea. I was not clear enough on the details such as shadow puppets needing to allow light through them, and some parts being delicate (hence the laser cutting option). Either way, that has come to a dead end, so reluctantly I will be making my own puppets. It’s a shame though as I liked the idea that by having them made, they would not connote a hand-crafted artefact from the island, which is now a potential hang-up. I am thinking maybe I’ll make them out of really modern materials and stick with really simple silhouettes (as opposed to hand-woven wicker-dolly clichés! If I did that, I wouldn’t blame islanders if they decided to lynch me!).

On a more jubilant note, both of the two major sponsors- Scottish Arts Council and the Highland Tourism Development Fund have confirmed their financial support! Hurrah! Hurrah! My past 12 months of hard labour will not be in vain! I can now cover my costs, buy the best production materials for the artworks, and even pay myself for the trouble. I am, in case you can’t tell, extremely pleased and relieved…3 weeks to go. Bought a mosquito net-hat and a book on foraging.

(For anyone still following this blog, you might be interested to know that what I said earlier about the percentages of scottish arts council funding was slightly mean (and they are now my best friends of course); This round they funded almost a fifth of the money requested, but with my £3,000 representing just under 6% of the total amount awarded. That could mean as little as twenty individuals in all of Scotland receiving arts funding this quarter! There really isn’t very much to go around…)


All is going smoothly but time is running out for preparatory elements for the residency. I know I will feel like a small child at Christmas time when my new digital recorder arrives, but for now I have been chasing the last couple of details from the early funders.

The tourism board are debating whether or not a different (and partly european funded) project already taking place with an interpretative element, is too close to what I will be doing with the audio guide idea. I tried to explain that this is not a cultural sciences project, but visual art which is utilising those techniques…we’ll see whether this is different enough! They should get back to me any day now. Still waiting on Hope Scott Trust as well, again, should be a reply any day. Scottish Arts Council by the end of the month. I hate the waiting and not knowing!

On more cheery notes, I have negotiated to have a whole day of activities with the primary school. But it asks difficult questions for me as I do not want to be seen as an artist that does “kiddy-workshops” or tries to cure social ills with finger painting! But I have undergone a play for the dead, thus now I want to do a play for the youth, the future decision-makers of Eigg. I want them to almost take it on as their own, and have it grow so that perhaps it becomes a new tradition. Tradition-making has long been an interest of mine. So it means working with the kids (still waiting for CRB form from the School so time is short there too!). I will perform a puppet show to illustrate what I would like them to do, make costumes and then document tableaux-style scenes. Really looking forward to this bit.

The weather up here is Scotland is so unseasonably glorious that, fingers crossed, it will remain throughout the summer and I can go out walking on Eigg every day that I am there. Must create a strong visible presence or I could risk residents not knowing I was ever there! a few flyers is NEVER enough to have any kind of real involvement or have a group take something on as there own. Yet again I am reliant on many elements of contribution from people I work with, both with people coming forward for interviews, and for them coming to see work installed afterwards.

I have created some slick logos to go with each stage of the project and will attach them to public information letters which will hit the island regularly throughout the project. They are artworks in themselves and fully describe the processes I want to undertake.

One month to go…


Publicity (six weeks to go until project Eigg begins)

With precious little time now to do much more than prepare myself for the residency, I am still interested in having some form of publicity for it, so that art audiences might travel to Eigg during the residency and participate alongside Islanders and tourists. I have got contact details ready for regional BBC and radio, and I have made contact with in flight magazine companies that fly to the highlands.

Actually, to be honest it is not really getting people to Eigg I am interested in (there will be an estimated 3,000 tourists during the six week period plus the 70-odd islanders), it is more that I would like to have press coverage of several of the activities. Someone once told me that if you want a performance documented you should call in all your favours, get every cameraman and photographer you know to come and help. I suppose I am stretching this philosophy to the press.

Despite all of this publicity talk, I am slightly unsure that it is actually necessary or that valuable to my artistic practice to have this project paraded for the press (even for art magazines). I'm sure that many of you diligent readers who are still following this blog, have wondered the very same thing with your own projects… Some part of me wonders if it wouldn't be better simply to put out public information leaflets on the island and post them to all of the islanders, and otherwise keep the whole project relatively secretive…? Releasing only the images I am completely happy with further down the line. It is a shame to miss such a good opportunity for international outreach, but if the work isn't even made yet, I may be slitting my own throat. I will focus back on the project itself instead and send images out to the press after the project. It might also be better to create a talk or exhibition in Glasgow following the project's completion and to publicise that instead.

That's it decided, I will get back into the studio and focus on preparatory artworks and drawing for the residency, the project will have to develop it's own myth!