This post was originally delivered as a talk on 6th July 2019, introducing my Meander Further Artist Walk at Hospitalfield Arts.
Three years ago, I realised I had never truly seen moonlight.
For a long time, I had known that light pollution was keeping me from seeing all but the brightest stars in the night sky, but the moon’s white orb had always loomed large; whether surrounded by a halo of clouds, rising behind the jagged apex of The Shard, or reflected in the waters of The Clyde. Having lived all my life in towns and cities under the sodium glow of artificial streetlights, it was not until I found myself crossing a moonlit field on the northern shore of the Solway Firth, under a sky that is one of the darkest in Europe, it became apparent that I had never really seen the moon’s reflected light touch the ground.
This post was originally delivered as a talk on 1st October 2016 as part of my SGSAH-funded residency at RSPB Mersehead.
I feel it is only appropriate I begin by acknowledging the date. Tonight, the first of October is the night of the new moon and the start of a new lunar month. A lunar month, also known as a lunation, is a period of roughly twenty-nine and a half days marking the time between one new moon and the next. The reason I chose to name my work after this particular unit of time is not simply because my residency happened to coincide with a lunation like the one beginning tonight, but because of the way night here came to feature in all of the work I have made for the show.
My studio looks like Mission Control, with barely a surface not home to a computer, a monitor, or a knot of cables. The other surfaces are covered with books. Continue reading
Two thousand, five hundred and ninety-one, twenty point eight-nine gigabytes: roughly the equivalent of eighty-two rolls of film. This is the number of photographs I took in the course of my residency at Mersehead. In my work I will use maybe one tenth of that number, but almost certainly fewer – it is nearly always the case that many more photographs are taken than exhibited.
“Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
The stars shot down wi’ sklentin light,
Wi’ you, mysel’ I gat a fright.”
– Robert Burns, Address to the Deil (1785)
The first Saturday after I arrived at Mersehead, I made the short journey sixteen miles north to Dumfries: the town probably best known as the final resting place of Robert Burns. I though had not come to visit the Burns Mausoleum, nor the small sandstone house in which he lived out the final years of his life. I had come to visit the town’s camera obscura. Continue reading
When the above question was put to me last Saturday night over a particularly tricky jigsaw, I had just finished explaining to my companions that my background is not in ornithology, zoology, conservation, or indeed any of the scientific disciplines one might expect of a PhD student volunteering on an RSPB reserve, but in Fine Art. I am here, as I went on to explain, on an artist in residence placement: essentially I am here to make art.
There was one piece of work in the Big Bang Data exhibition that I did not mention in my last post: Black Shoals – Dark Matter by Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway.  More than any other piece in the show, many of which I was already familiar with from the Internet and academic texts, this is the one I was most excited, and most nervous, about seeing, ‘in the flesh’ so to speak.
Reflections on the recent Big Bang Data exhibition held at Somerset House, London.
A thought on The Revenant, note this post contains minor spoilers. Continue reading