Hello ‘A’, I’ve Missed You

This is the part where I gloat. Its been another nonstop week. Monday and Tuesday saw the feedback for the semesters practical work and the written introduction to dissertation work. And I received ‘A’s on both counts.

I know its art and its never black and white or right and wrong as its often based on opinion and is very subjective. I know I shouldn’t place too much importance on the academic grade. And I know that my 3rd year grade will have nothing to do with my final degree.

But I’m HAPPY.

I’ve always been quite proud about grades and I always set high standards for myself. So its good to finally get this recognition. And such great feedback really gives me a boost to put everything into 4th year.

4th year… Theres a scary thought. After realising I’d soon have to add a 4th year link on my blog, I had a mini-freak out. Deep breaths. It was the same odd feeling as when I cleared out my 3rd year studio and looked up to see this…

‘eek’ seems to be a fitting expression.

Yet another shock to the system has come with helping in degree show preparation this past week. Each 3rd year was assigned to a 4th year as their personal helper. I spent the week painting walls, scrubbing floors, drilling holes and running errands. It was great to see what goes on in that week of the 4th year deadline, theres such an energy in the building! I wish my 4th year the best of luck and am keeping my fingers crossed I get a good wee helper next year.

So yeah… Thats it. It’s all done for now. I can look forward to an arty trip to Berlin, many a summer adventure and the occasional long lie. And then it’s 4th year.

The Changing Room

After my deadline I had a week of Professional Practice. I’d arranged some volunteer work at a contemporary art gallery in Stirling, ‘The Changing Room’. I just want to keep learning. My 2012 resolution was to keep going and get things done, and thats what I intend to do.

The experience of the work placement was so valuable and I’m happy I’ll be going back there again at the end of this month. It was the installation of a printmaking exhibition I was helping out with. They gave me a fair bit of responsibility and I got very involved in all aspects of putting on a show, from issues of insurance to measuring out where the prints were to go.

‘The Writing on Your Wall’ is a travelling exhibition of print works and is on show in Stirling until the 26th of May. Go see it at the Changing Room and compliment me on my expert ability of hanging a picture straight. 😉

Having not slept properly toward the lead up to my deadline and having walked all round Glasgow on the Monday of that week, I was pretty much exhausted after spending Tuesday – Friday installing this exhibition. But its a good feeling of adrenaline when you’re on the move so much.

Getting some real gallery experience has got me properly thinking about what I want to do after I graduate and what aspect of Fine Art I want to work in. There’s so much to consider. This will be the main issue of worry in my head this summer. Here we go.


Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art

So our deadline was the 23rd of March. After staying up til 4am the night before, and running into the uni for 8am to position my sketchbooks in my final setup, all I really wanted to do was crash. But there was a bus scheduled at 9 that morning to take us on a day trip to Glasgow. And Rachael doesn’t say ‘no’ to free arting.

Aside from being partially zombified and having to nip away to refuel with coffee every hour and a half, the day was well worth it. We were escorted around Glasgow, hitting all the best art spots. A particular highlight of my day/life was Jeremy Deller’s  ‘Sacrilege’, an inflatable replica of Stonehenge pitched on Glasgow Green for the public to bounce on. Amazing. I haven’t felt so giddy in ages. Ah…Art…how I love thee.

The day just got better from there. At the Modern Institute I discovered Paul Thek, an artist I hadn’t really heard of before and who is now definitely on my list to research. At the Mitchell Library I observed an ‘Art Lending Library’. At Glasgow School of Art I said hello to old Charles and his pals. At GoMA I resisted the urge to jump into Karla Black’s mattress of sawdust (possibly due to sleep deprived state?). I also tried Quorn and rediscovered a love of Mocha Latte.



A fantastic end to studio practice, I must say. I would advise anyone to take a look at whats going on at the GI Festival. My summary of it is probably a bit lacklustre in comparison to whats really happening there right now.

Photo Time

Actually every time is photo time. I take too many photos. As anyone who knows me will have noticed. I’m the creep who snaps you when you aren’t looking and takes still lives of every meal she eats. I probably take an average of 5 photos a day. So although I’ve basically completed my practical work for this semester, making sketchbooks is going to be quite a tedious process. I always have a photo book to go alongside my installations. I think the installation and the photographs of the installation are separate things in themselves, both with nice qualities, and both with merit to be displayed. So now I have the long task of editing and selecting, and then that horrible final job of double-sided taping them all down.

Nothing to do but get it done.

Here’s some snaps of my metalwork closeup…


Not long to go til the deadline. Why am I not more stressed out right now? Since when am I a chilled person…?

I’m Baaaaack

And it’s time to plan.

So I’ve been saying recently that the work was slowing down a bit. Well we’re back in business now. Thursday was a good day. I was on campus at 9.30 in the morning and didn’t get home till half past 8 that evening. It was one of those days where I just remembered how in love with art I am. And then consequently realised how sappy I am also… But sounding sappy aside, I do enjoy days like that. I spent the day on the floor of my studio working away, occasionally nipping outside to steal some sun, and drifting in and out of arty chat with my studio mates.

We’re at that stage in the semester now where I can confidently say “It’s all coming together”. The work is mostly done and the space is looking good. Theres a few things still to do, sketchbooks and organisational touches, but I still have three weeks to go and I’m not panicking yet… which is unusual.

Everythings very chilled and ‘nice’ right now. My work is progressing steadily, the semester is coming to a relaxing end and it is sunnysunnysunny. Things are looking gooood.




My studio is in preparation mood. Getting there though. I can see the end, and it looks alright. Deadline is 23rd of April. Wish me Luck.

Two Weeks To Go

The work has been forced to take a backseat over the last couple of weeks due to an ever-nearing essay deadline. I’ve been curling up beside the radiator in the library most days, obsessively colour coding notes and scanning books. I’ve said before, I like essay writing… It just takes a while to get started. I’m hoping to get a big chunk of it written today so I can get back to the fun stuff.

I did manage to start a new piece last week though, and I’m quite pleased with it so far. Continuing with the process of concealing items, I’ve wrapped a shirt in old dictionary pages and contained it in a metal structure. This is a continuation of my focus on the object as a storage vessel for memory. This piece has multiple ways it could go, I’ve not decided on its final presentation yet. Its good having a few ideas though. In fact being in a state of ‘having ideas’ is the best feeling in the world. This might sound like an exaggeration but to me there’s nothing worse than not feeling creatively in tune.

I positioned the piece with a couple of my other objects for this photo. I want to continue work on the binoculars, but separate from the plaster work. Pictured here is also a wrapped up bell, a wrapped up soldiers book and three of my Grandpa’s matches. Make of it what you will.

Side ramble… I love old books. Theres a little charity shop in Musselburgh with stacks and stacks of ageing books. Its a little bit amazing. Perhaps this is an odd fascination? It’s just so nostalgic, the smell and the look and being able to dive into a patchwork library. Nice.


Symbols and Symbolism

‘Symbols and Symbolism’ is an exhibition currently in the Lower Foyer Gallery of the art college. It’s on until the 28th of March and is worth a look at. Yes, my work is in it, hence my promotion but theres also variety of other work there, from tutors and students in a variety of disciplines.

The exhibition focuses on ‘an exploration into the use of objects and images in art and the everyday, as a means of communication’. I think my art fits this concept quite well. I use objects a lot and my work usually has a heavier idea behind it. I try to communicate these ideas without throwing it in the face of the viewer. I want them to be interested and get a ‘feeling’ from my work. But I don’t necessarily want them to know what it’s about. My work is often personal, but rarely confessional.

I submitted a taster of my binoculars for this exhibition. Its a little assemblage of four of the replicas, the empty binocular case and a framed text piece.

It’s great seeing your own work presented in an exhibition as opposed to piled in the studio. I always try and keep my space kind of clear and formal so I can see my work in context.

So yeah, check it out!


25 Binoculars

Its a really boring task wrapping 25 awkward shapes in paper. Really boring. And its taken up a sizeable part of my week. Because it’s so boring. The best days in art school are the ones where you’re literally running between departments, fuelled by instant cappuccino and barely stopping to realise its got to 7pm. This week has had no such shine. Theres been a lot of dull important things to do. Like dissertation meetings and picking up/dropping off work at various places. Its caused a bit of a stall, but hopefully Monday I’ll be back with a buzz.

So yeah, I wrapped the binoculars and I really don’t want to look at them for a couple days. Hooray for the weekend. People keep asking “oh, so what does this mean?”. Perhaps I’m just a bit distracted this week because my explanations have been sounding a bit lacklustre and I’ve been getting irritated with the question in general. Its just my random thoughts… but in 3D and stuck on a wall.

I’ll try a more formal answer?

My work is about memory, nostalgia and obsessive sentimentality. This piece again is about the assignment of emotion to an object and about the dilution of the objects original value or purpose. Its the memory attached to the object that is important, the thing itself could really be anything. Hence why I’ve covered objects up here and multiplied them, to kind of highlight this loss of significance in the object itself and the importance of personal attachment. I’ve taken away the aesthetic and the purpose, you can’t use them if they’re wrapped up. Get me?

Anyone else think sometimes things are nice without an explanation?



Plaster Casting is fun. Having made a clay replica of my binoculars I then had to build a wall around them and melt some rubber to make a mould. (Stirring melting rubber really made me want melted chocolate… even though this mixture was red and had a strong distinctive smell.)The process of making the mould all went a lot smoother and more quickly than I imagined. Happy Rachael.

I made it on Tuesday and spent the rest of that week mass producing my binoculars. Each cast of binoculars took half an hour to set. This was ideal, I’d go down to sculpture and mix the plaster to pour into the mould and then run to metal with a set block of time to continue my other project. I like having targets and deadlines, it motivates me to keep moving. Structure seems to give me a buzz… that sounds weird.


I like having my space looking semi-formal, it allows me to view the pieces more finally and see if every things working and how they compliment each other. So I got shelves put up as soon as possible to keep the binocular project moving. I can’t function in a messy space either, so its important having some order. I’m becoming a bit obsessed this semester… Structure. Multiples. Order. Timing.

So now I need to wrap up the binoculars and get this part of the project finished. We had a group crit yesterday, this is when a group of fellow art students circulate the studio and talk about each others work. It’s insightful to hear what viewers are getting from it. My feedback seemed to be pretty in line with what I’m thinking. I’m starting to become aware that there are only 5 weeks left, I’m ‘on track’ but I think that pressure wave is gonna’ hit soon.


Advice to anyone working in a metal workshop. After welding two large strips of metal together, do not proceed to rest your palm on the point of contact. It hurts.

Also… If this does happen, don’t try to ‘be strong’ and carry on working, run it under some cold water.

Otherwise you’re just being an idiot. Like me.

I did eventually wander back to the studio, to chill it and craft a make-shift bandage out of scrap canvas and masking tape. That’ll do.

My hands are actually a wreck right now. They’re sore, burnt, bloody, my fingertips are permanently black from the metalwork, little splinters of wood litter my palms from woodwork and theres tiny little scratches generally all over. (Plus, I sliced my finger open yesterday while making an apple pie. This did not help). Battlewounds? I do enjoy being dramatic… Suffering for my art and all that… Not quite Marina Abramović style just yet.

I ran away from the workshop before the technician found out about this incident. It was a very stupid mistake and I want to at least appear like I know what I’m doing. So my productivity slowed down after this little event today. But tomorrow is sculpture day! I’m planning to go down to the plaster room and make multiples of my old binoculars. I was advised that to cast the originals would severely damage them. Soooo, that means I have to make a clay replica of them. I haven’t used clay since I ‘sculpted’ a depiction of my cat when I was 9. It was pretty sweet. Clay is such a manipulable substance, a lot of fun to use but easy to get impatient with I think. It’s just the basic shape I’m recreating in clay, I plan to cover the binoculars in paper so what’s visible will be just the silhouette.

I think the plan is to pop the clay into the kiln, create a cast of the finished model and then produce about 20 or so replicas of the binoculars. Then I’ll cover each in old text and arrange them on shelves, hiding the original pair somewhere in the arrangement. Eee I can’t wait to get on with starting another aspect of this project. Tomorrow better be a good day.