My art explores environmental concerns, particularly in places considered ‘wild’ or ‘remote’. I’ve worked in Iceland and Finland, and am halfway through a practice-based PhD in Fine Art, in which I make paintings to a model of Nan Shepherd’s 1945 work of nature-writing, The Living Mountain.
The coronavirus has taken up our minds and affected lives so tragically, that we are all reeling about, trying to get a grip on the new normal. The Upland Peer Crit Group has changed to weekly Zoom meetings during this time, and is a welcome firm point, as we compare stories and support each other.
The WASPS studios are under lockdown; luckily I put a box of watercolour materials into my car just beforehand, so have made a pop-up studio in a the spare room at home. I’m experimenting with small-scale collage and 3D studies based on the peatlands around our house in Mossdale.
I’m writing my thesis at home, happy if I can focus for a few hours a day. My other half is high-risk and we live in a small village community so it’s a case of staying at home and waiting. I have volunteered to do home-admin for the New Galloway Shop, and recently enjoyed interviewing volunteers by phone and collating information for a Glenkens Gazette article.
On top of the coronavirus, last month came wildfires in the Galloway Hills, which came within a mile or so of our house. Seeing huge plumes of smoke and flames approaching in the sky was quite surreal (we had our passports and pyjamas packed in a bag, ready). I am thinking of making work about this, which I will post as ideas develop.
I think art can play a vital part in helping us process massive events, reaching out to emotions when facts and figures overwhelm us. Making art or – if we are too distracted for that – just looking at art can help with difficult, contradictory feelings, leading to a groundswell of action and desire to do things differently. Expressing the changes we want to see in social and political life is particularly resonant at this time. In the coming months and years, it will be interesting to see how artists respond to all the information flying around at the moment.