Practice - What is giving your life meaning this week?
This won’t be a surprise but work and my garden. Having work to do has kept
a structure to life and keeps me looking ahead and working towards something
better. And the garden is starting to pop with colour. Some of the tulips are still
going and I grew foxgloves from seed last year which are sending spires up
between the alliums.
What do you see as the most important and the most overlooked aspect of your work?
The most important aspect of my work is it being a forum to express myself,
something which isn’t always so easy in other modes of communication. The
most overlooked aspect I would say is humour. People sometimes say my work
is scary which often surprises me.
Do you think your work would be different if you knew no one was ever going to see it except you?
That is so hard to say. I honestly don’t know. In envisaging a situation where
nobody would ever see it at all I could only imagine a scenario where I was the
last survivor of an apocalypse. I think you’d still want to assume that somebody
might see it one day. Although, ironically, when conceiving ideas and working
them up (under normal circumstances that is, not post apocalypse) you have to
have a mindset that what you’re doing is only for you otherwise it stops being
true self expression. It is a paradox because ultimately it’s going to be viewed
entirely publicly, which is the nature of the beast.
Describe your dream studio situation and what is the biggest thing you think you took for granted about working in your studio ?
Is it hideously smug to say that my studio is (was) pretty ideal? I like the fact
that I had to make a bit of a journey to get there, it separates out home from
work. I’ve always thought that if I lived somewhere hot or exotic I would never
get any work done. West of Scotland gloom is quite conducive to cracking on
with work. I miss the light in my studio. It is north facing and has great light.
Two big windows and a north facing skylight. I also miss the space. It is hard to
get far enough back from a painting working in a more confined space.
What is your best time of the day or night to work and why?
I work from around 10am till 10pm. My most productive shift is between 3.45
and 6pm. I’m not a massive fan of working at night but I do it anyway as I do get
a fair bit done, and that shift is from 8 till 10pm. I’ve kept pretty much the same
work schedule as before the lockdown, except I have to consciously fit a walk in
at some point now.
What is your studio staple snack?
If you’d asked me a year ago it would’ve been chocolate peanuts, without
question. Now though it’s oatcakes with almond butter and half a date on top.
The chocolate peanuts were nicer.
Tell us about something you saw on your one walk of the day
Banks and banks of frothy wild garlic flowers.
If you had to live with one vice for the rest of your life what would it be?
Sugar. Or more specifically cakes. Are there no consequences in this one-vice
alternative future? If not then peanut butter chocolate brownies.
What is your favourite podcast?
I’m really enjoying the Adam Buxton Podcast just now.
What is the best gift you've ever given or been given, vs the worst?
My friend gave me a pair of green frosted glass art deco candlesticks about
30 years ago which are my favourite things in the house - if the house was on fire
I would save them. Obviously I’d get my family out first but I’d make them carry
The worst gift I have given ( there are a lot to choose from) was a packet of nails
to my dad when I was a child.
What is the best film you've ever seen vs the worst?
Best film Dr Zhivago, worst film Spy Kids.
What's the most inspirational place you've been?
Most inspirational place is Glencoe. There’s something incredibly powerful,
elemental and moving about it, in any weather.
Which era would you like to have experienced /experience again?
Well, I would have liked to have been an artist in the 1920s, but then in the
20s my ancestors were all in service or miners or labourers on the land so I
doubt I would have got anywhere near that lifestyle. If you could fix it to have
been independently wealthy in the 1920s?
What are three trivial things you are missing since lockdown and three things you are enjoying?
The biggest thing I’m missing is my son and grandson but that’s not trivial so
Missing:- 1. going for a coffee in a café. We rarely went to cafes as children so the
best thing about being a grown up has been going for coffee whenever possible.
2. A garden centre visit. I miss Maclaren’s Nursery on Lochlibo Road between
Uplawmoor and Lugton. I love the smell of a polytunnel in the morning.
3. Getting up to the Highlands or islands or the sea.
Appreciating:- 1. It’s been quite nice dedicating a night of the week to watching
films together, catching each other up with classics or personal favourites. 2.
Having the time to see the season change slowly while out on walks. Seeing the
bluebells and wild garlic go from the foliage nosing through the earth to being in
full flower. And getting to know our local cemetery pretty intimately, especially
the old section which is very overgrown 3. Photos and videos of my grandson on
What is your favourite hour of the day now? Are you aware of each hour/time more or less now?
Probably that first hour before having to address the business of the day.
Plus I haven’t been sleeping well so it’s quite a relief to be able to just get up. The
week does seem to fly in.
What have you learnt, what are you consuming, what are you now expert in - since lockdown?
I am learning Gaelic on Duolingo and have got quite addicted to it. I am on
Level 3 and am irritating my husband and daughter as I am such a swot.
Please pick one of the three following prompts as a starting point to make some work using an A5 piece of paper/cloth/whatever you like. There is no restriction on media and feel free to try something different and new.
- Draw the last dream that you remember
- Draw a self portrait as a favourite animal doing your favourite daily thing
I have myself as an elephant, gardening,
unsurprisingly. Accompanied by a baby elephant. This
would have been the first summer my grandson would have
been mobile enough to run around and I had envisioned
us watering plants and guddling about in the earth
together. Alas, not yet.
- Draw the last text you received
Check out Helen's Exercise Three piece here