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.
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.
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.