Aberdeenshire, Scotland 2007
In the summer of 2007, immediately following my undergraduate graduation, I was awarded a residency at the Scottish Sculpture Studio, located remotely within the Aberdeenshire rural landscape. I had decided I would use my time there as period to reflect upon my practice, in a way feeling burnt out from the intense period of preparing exhibition work for the award of my degree. I was frustrated that the other artists around me were in a seeming flux of activity, producing bodies of work and having the ability to communicate the complicated layers of their creative ideas and express how such were linked; connections which I still felt sat at distance, unresolved and without a means to really understand the pulls of certain narratives within my own work. Whilst I had just completed a body of work for my graduation show, I still felt in part that I was discovering my creative voice, trying to facilitate myself to be able to channel the various layers that were awaiting answer and response.
I decided that I would try and find repose within the landscape around me, seeing how those prior themes and working methods of my practice found reaction in this new and unfamiliar setting. Embarking on a series of walks, cycles and drives around the local area I wanted to respond to the dramatic surroundings. Expecting to find solace in such locations, a continued feeling of melancholy and frustration grew.
Halfway through the residency I had a prior engagement, which I had to attend back home involving a family event. Occurring over a weekend, I set off on the Friday afternoon to drive downwards from Aberdeenshire towards Dundee. The road back involves heading out Eastwards from inland, making way towards the coast and then driving fairly straight down along this route. After navigation of the winding country roads inland, I reached the point in which you are brought to the coastal part of the journey. My heart lifted.
The horizon, stretched of sea, made me feel instantly reconnected to something that I realised had been absent over the past few weeks. It was amongst this swell that I was struck by something so basic, with the past three weeks being my first time living away from the sea and completely landlocked.
It became clear that this search that I had gone on whilst staying in the studio holdings, completely inland and surrounded by ever-rolling landscape, had resonated with me as a palpable need to search for that coastal line which fixed me.
I recognised that without the sea there to signal a familiar edge I felt overwhelmed by the mass of land which seemed to stretch and distance me from home. Recalling the excursions which I had engaged in whilst residing at the studio, it seemed that I was making gestures as if eternally roaming, attempting to find connection with that point in the horizon which was familiar to me; as if searching for that which had became lost. I could understand why such stretches of land to every side registered as disorientating pulls. Furthermore, I realised why I had created acts and gestures of passage and shift – through these daily travels – as response in my practice