Commissioned by Aberdeen City Council as a memorial to the Hazlehead crematorium scandal, which saw the ashes of more than 200 infants lost due to past practices at the crematorium.
Taking inspiration from the idea of a cocoon; a safe and peaceful space for refection and introspection, this sculpture is in the shape of a flock of bronze birds coming together to create a new whole. It was developed over several months in close dialogue with the affected parents, who wanted a peaceful and positive memorial, which would provide a safe space for reflection and remembrance.
The internal seat is a secluded space to sit and remember, the shape drawing the gaze upwards, following the flight of the birds. Being seated inside the sculpture gives the illusion of a protective swarm carrying you elsewhere; taking you somewhere new for a little while, resulting in a memorial that is at once a centre-point for grief and remembrance and a safe and peaceful space for reflection.
The birds symbolise the coming together of many in joint experiences and the strength of the support of others. It could be seen as a reference to little souls taking flight or the many parents coming together. Being a complex and reflective piece, the sculpture offers something new at every visit as it changes with the seasons and new details are discovered. It is angled such that the seat faces the rising sun and changing light will play a large part in the immersive experience of the artwork, as the sun casts the shadow of the birds down of the seated person, occasionally making the immersion into the cocoon seem complete.
Collaboration with artist Sarah Dale. Lapis lazuli, blue agate, natural lava, mookite, stainless steel wire and sheet, wood. 2018.
Reception area centre-piece commission by University of Edinburgh for their new Higgs Centre for Innovation at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.
The concept for this project is based around the hypothesis; what would happen if the Higgs field was switched off? The Higgs mechanism is responsible for elementary particle masses. Mass is what provides resistance when a force is applied. If the Higgs field was removed, the electrons in an atom would fly off at the speed of light, leaving the nucleus unaffected. We have chosen to imagine this system on a much larger scale, creating an impossible object, one that is at once present and absent.
The sculpture consists of roughly 16,000 gemstone spheres attached to wires running floor to ceiling. The beads, which make up the image of a door, are installed at a research facility processing big data and only come into alignment as the viewer walks towards it upon leaving the building (enlightened?). At all other angles it will appear as a ghostly cloud, a mist of nuclei drifting in the air, the fundamental part of its mass and energy removed. The door is an elusive object that leads to the unknown possibilities of future scientific endeavour; how will the discovery of the Higgs boson shape the future of science, now the door has closed upon the standard model?
As part of the project development, we recently visited CERN in Geneva, where we spoke to physicists who worked on the discovery of the Higgs boson at the ATLAS experiment, within the Large Hadron Collider.
This innocent looking project took over not only a huge chunk of the lives of my project partner Sarah Dale and myself, but a wast amount of volunteer time and was a reminder that a lot of the time, art is a collaborative effort.
From advice on the science behind the project (and a guided tour around CERN) to writing a bespoke computer program producing the exact bead coordinates to engineering advice, woodwork and general help making the project, the following people have given up their time and expertise for FREE to help us make this. A huge thank you to:
Victoria Martin, Peter Balch, David Montgomery, Brian Sutton, Miles Franklin, Robin Burns, Random Switch, Ken Hare, Liz Hare, Duncan Silander, Natasha Ruwona, Ana Yarza, Alison Brewster, Helen Prior, Felicity White, Morag Donkin, Rhiannon Gray, Anthony Pace Farias, Jo Blackmore, Timothy Betton, Natasha Moody, Jody Mulvey, Rosalin Sanderson, Annabel Stogden, Yashi Harikrishna, Hanna Warne, Lynn Cowan, Robyn Seabright, Sofia Hallstrom, Rachel Abrams, Zivile Siutilaite, Joe Etchel and Michael Merillo
And of course a big thank you to Peter Higgs himself for the science and for coming along for a look at the sculpture!
Sculpture exhibited at the Scottish Sculpture Park at Caol Ruadh Summer 2017.
After a lengthy process of sculpting the original, making a 42-piece mould, casting a porcelain version and re-sculpting it, Defection was finally finished and installed in its new temporary home at the Scottish Sculpture Park at Caol Ruadh, where it was shown as part of their Biannual summer exhibition 2017.
The sculpture is a life-size portrait of my 5-year-old son, seated with his eyes closed and breathing in. Caol Ruadh was a former refuge for young boys with health problems and living in deprived conditions in Glasgow. It was part of the fresh air fortnightly project, which sought to take vulnerable children out of the city and give them respite in a rural setting. Being partially naked, having his eyes closed and his mouth open makes the boy vulnerable and receptive and the cap gives it a link to the ocean (is he about to dive in?), the place as a refuge for children and the connection between different types of air and their impact on the respiratory systems. He is seated on a tidal 'island', from which the children residing at Caol Ruadh used to jump into the ocean for their morning swim.
The sculpture is made from cast porcelain in order to emphasise the fragility of children and the way we as parents try to shape and hold on to our children as they grow. The porcelain gives the sculpture a sense of purity, whilst referencing the classical marble works of artists such as Bernini. A solitary figure, a little merboy, he was sometimes accessible, sometimes lost and cut off from the world. The image of a child on a rock by/in the ocean also gives connotations linked to the current refugee situation, which has changed the innocent way that we see the connection between the ocean and children.
The incredibly talented Ditte Solgaard Dunn from First Light Photography came past my studio and managed to capture the magic as I opened the kiln for the first time, taking out the still blood-warm sculpture. She since followed to me to Caol Ruadh, where she documented the installation process.
Ongoing project development of Portrait of the Artist, exploring reproductions and traditional craft, identity and the physical and emotional changes caused by motherhood and ageing. Vessel is a series of predominantly wall-mounted, slip cast porcelain figurines.
Portrait of the Artist
Portrait of the Artist is a current ongoing project and collaboration with photographer Ditte Solgaard Dunn, exploring motherhood, identity and the relationship between a mother and her children; how having children change and reshape a person.
In a sense, this project is a return to basics. My mother is a successful ceramicist and I have an uneasy relationship with the craft elements of my practice and of letting go of the present in case my children will suffer. I took a course in figurative sculpture techniques and painstakingly produced a self-portrait. I then gave the still wet clay original to my children with instructions to 'do what you want' and documented the result. Referencing the earth mother, made from clay, the mother I produced is soft, passive, receptive, ready to be shaped by her children. She is also highly sexualised.
I have been working with the idea of my children as performers for a few years now and am fascinated by their spontaneity and lack of self-censorship. Everything that they did came from them and all tools they introduced into the project themselves. There is something iconoclastic about the destruction of artworks and the image of the mother. Marina Abramovic claimed that if you give the audience total freedom, they will become frenzied enough to kill you. In a way, this is what my children did to me and it was a very intense experience. At the same time it was cathartic to let go of my ownership over the artwork and by extension myself. The act of giving over the artwork and myself to them created a whole new work and to me questions the notion of ownership of art, the role of the artist and the identity of the woman as a mother. Do I shape my children or do they shape me? And there are some great themes in their interactions - washing of the mother, stabbing of the woman, almost religious connotations of scratching and cutting of the body and the destruction of the identity of the face.
Collaboration with Svetlana Kondakova. The artwork will comprise a life-size bronze cast of an archer on the Esk riverbank and 17 steel arrows installed at different locations around Musselburgh.
Inspired by local history, the archer and arrows will represent three important aspects of Musselburgh heritage - the Roman invasion in AD 80, the battle of Pinky Cleugh in 1547 and the Musselburgh Silver Arrow, which dates back to 1603 and is claimed to be the oldest sporting trophy in the world. The bronze figure will have a universal and timeless aesthetic, representing layers of Musselburgh history and forming a conceptual bridge by pointing its invisible bow across the river. The arrows represent the present and future and will be engraved with the community's wishes for the future of Musselburgh, which the artists will gather by conducting several community workshops.
Furthermore, the 17 arrows will form a trail, linking the heritage of Musselburgh to the modern day as well as inspiring the future and providing an interactive element of activity for both locals and visitors. The placement of the arrows will lead people to places that are important to the town in terms of history, culture and community, allowing participants to experience Musselburgh in a new way, highlighting its assets and reasserting the town's identity.
This is an ongoing project commissioned by Musselburgh council. The Archer was installed in June 2018 and has been welcomed into the community. He currently has his own Facebook page with over 300 members who dress him up for the seasons. The arrows are due to be installed later in the year
The result of a three month residency working closely with the community in a rural village in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania in 2009. Working with only locally available materials and equipment, the sculpture was the culmination of talks addressing issues of cultural understanding of art, globalisation and local economies. The shape of the project is based on the banana tree, key to the local survival and economy.
The sculpture was created by welding together Tanzanian coins of a low denomination, which were gathered by the local community, who had to travel to nearby villages and towns, as the local villages didn’t have enough coins to support the project. This type of coins are usually only used for buying single cigarettes (60 Tsh each) or dropping into the alms box at church.
Assembly was done using an electric single phase arc welder, which in itself posed a problem due to fluctuations in electricity.
Items used in the construction of the piece (based on exchange rates on 01/08/09)
340 old 5 Tsh pieces = 1,700 Tsh or £0.8 740 new 5 Tsh pieces = 3,700 Tsh or £1.76 1,015 10 Tsh pieces = 10,150 Tsh or £4.83 935 20 Tsh pieces = 18,700 Tsh or £8.91
Total value of coins used for the piece: 34,250 Tsh or £16.30
Combined weight of the coins: 23.215 kg
The pr kilo value of the coins: 16.30 / 23.215 = £0.7021 or $1.154
USD/KG European prices for metal on 01/08/09:
Alum Alloy 1.700
NA Alloy 1.740
Stainless Steel Grade 304 2.457
Stainless Steel Grade 316 3.521
A huge thanks to Gilbert Mwasha and Elias for spending their lunch breaks trawling the area for suitable coins.
I am the mother of two young children and have found that the transition to motherhood and finding ways of working as an artist, whilst still being a present mother is not always a smooth one. As a way of bridging the role of artist and mother, I have been working with my children, which is providing a way of bonding, developing play and exploring their creativity. I am very conscious of the issues surrounding using children in art and all projects I do with them are voluntary, fun and end when their enthusiasm does.
Early works when they were very young centred on on the body and the physicality of bonding and motherhood. As they have grown, works have developed to focus on their individual creativity and expression and have begun to influence my own work in a significant way.
Drawing emotions 'Happy' and 'Confused' June 2019
As part of my practice I run a variety of workshops and community events. These are a few examples of recent events.
This is Rubbish
Created on Earth Day 2015, This is Rubbish! was the culmination of three workshops with Victoria Primary school P5 pupils. The workshops explored the children's area and issues of sustainability, local geography and art making from re-appropriated materials. The materials were gathered from donations from the local area over a 2-month period and the construction event itself took place over an hour of self-directed construction by the children, exploring their creativity. The resulting 10 meter x 9 meter giant image was based on themes from maps of a future 2065 Newhaven as imagined by the children. The project was a collaboration with Hans Clausen, ESW Schools Programme, a very enthusiastic and talented group of Primary five children and lots of generous volunteers and donors.
Musselburgh Archer Workshops
A collaborative project with artist Svetlana Kondakova, these playful workshops involved the local community in a creative arrow making and resulted in a series of wishes for the future of the town, to be engraved onto the Musselburgh Archer trail of arrows. The trail is due to be installed summer 2019.
A series of interactive works exploring haptics, time, the transience/permanence of differing types of touch and the way we navigate spaces.
What is Left (2012)
Laser cut mirrors
Proposal for a Flaw (2012)
Bitumen, wood, laser etched glass, steel
This Time Maybe (2013)
Bitumen on canvas, charcoal dust
Shared Space (2012)
Laser engraved safety glass permanently installed into the front door of Edinburgh College of Art
Series of smaller, bronze cast works based on Scottish kelp Furbelows
Tree of Knowledge
Sculpture commissioned by Edinburgh Napier University to form part of their new Fountainbridge halls of residence development, 2014.
The idea stems from research into the earliest origins of the Fountainbridge area, predating the industrial boom of the 19th century to a time when the area was still on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Between the twelfth and fifteenth century the areas of Tollcross and Fountainbridge were located outside of the City of Edinburgh and were Royal Orchards, where a variety of fruits and vegetables, including apples, cherries and pears, were grown. This tradition carried on in Fountainbridge well into the 18th Century, during which time the area was a large Nursery Garden.
Tree of Knowledge's shape is based on the Great Yew at Broich, a Scottish heritage tree near Kippen, Stirlingshire. It was planted in the twelfth century and has been used as a landmark for centuries. By taking the shape of the yew, the sculpture uses the idea of a tree as a local meeting place, as well as commemorating the origins of the area and the first industries to take place on the land. In order to emphasise the role of the sculpture as a meeting place, the front branch has been lowered, widened and supported, thereby turning it into a bench and a place for reflection.
The sculpture was created by welding together locally sourced metal pipes in a variety of shapes and sizes, each piece shaped individually in order to achieve the organic appearance of a real tree. Holes have been drilled in the pipes and some have been left open in order utilise the Scottish weather and catch the wind, resulting in a sculpture with its own atmospheric soundscape.
Below the tree lies a single apple, bringing to mind the tale of Newton, who was hit by an apple whilst sitting under a tree, causing him to invent the theory of gravity, as well as referencing the origins of the area as orchards. The apple has been cast from bronze and copper and left to weather green, slowly blending in with its environment and matching the green of the new accommodation buildings as well as the copper green of several of Edinburgh's important buildings such as The Usher Hall.
The sculpture was constructed at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and measures 3m x 5.6m x 5.8. The creative team provided opportunities for emerging artists and students to work on the sculpture construction and to gain invaluable experience of working in a professional art environment.