The moment has at last arrived for me to zhoosh up my on-line presence. My blog has become a little moribund of late and is distinctly lacking in timely updates, so I have decided to expand the Smithsownian name to include a gallery of my work – currently under construction but you can see how far I’ve got this afternoon by clicking on Projects above. As well as other, all singing all dancing links and pages which will transform Smithsownian from a simple blog, into a bit more of a proper website. Well, everyone’s got one these days havent they?
This website will be my main ‘Home’ and will eventually keep you up to date with new work as well as providing an archive of past projects and the famous Smithsownian blog. Which I am updating; as we speak. Honest.
And as if that were not sufficient excitement for you, I have also set up a new blog. The Parochial Review, go on, take a look. It is of course, also currently ‘under construction’ but will definitely prove unmissable once I’ve got into my stride.
You will however, have to bear with me. When I set up Smithsownian as part of The Everyone Project at DCA in 2011 I had a considerable amount of help from competent people to do so, where as now I’m hacking my way through WordPress help menus with my fingers firmly crossed. So there will be a website, soon, and I’ll continue to keep you breast of its progress. Wish me luck!
Last time I saw Clive in the Print Studio he said ‘I haven’t seen your blog for a while’ and I hedged about a bit and had to admit that as he suspected, the blog wasn’t occupying quite the place in my current life that it once had. I hadn’t made any decision to stop writing, it’s just that my well-known motivational problems had once again taken centre stage. Well, that and a fairly busy work schedule interspersed with the inevitable MS related health issues. The winter is always a bad time for me. The cold, damp, and lack of daylight inevitably prompt me to batton down the hatches. Basically, I retreat to my comfy armchair in front of the fire with my Kindle and my iPad and immerse myself in vital novel reading and aimless web browsing. I don’t want to mislead you though, it’s not all been Wolf Hall, H is for Hawk and the latest Boden sale, I have managed to achieve a few things too. I think I last left you with the threat to reacquaint myself with the dreaded Illustrator and to revisit the backlog of drawings which I made on the Eye Can Draw project. This I have actually done. I am still not quite what you would call fluent with the dratted ‘I’ thing but I have succeeded in making a series of digital prints which combine what we called ‘the flashy ones’ made with the eye tracker (see below), with simple geometric elements
created in the programme. To be honest, the majority of the computer-based work in these pieces was actually made using tried and tested old PhotoShop – sometimes life is just too short for continual Adobe based learning activity; the urge to make stuff just takes over. Et voila! Before we know it we have a short series of what have proved to be, quite successful digital prints.
Much to my surprise, not only was one of them shortlisted for the 2014 Lumen Prize for digital art, where it can still aparently be seen in their online gallery. But also, they formed the basis of a successful application to DVAA for a grant to physically print the things, which look great by the way. And finally, as if that were not enough, they have recently been shown along with an intimately related short animated film in the Information Space at DCA where Rob and I also gave a well attended talk on
the project and the work. So that’s you brought more or less up-to-date.
In the aftermarth, I am trying to get my head around making another animation, I don’t want to lose my hard won reacquaintance with Flash pro, and Rob has moved onwards and upwards to new job at the University, see for the amazing details. We hope to be able to continue with the eye tracking work but it’s necessarilly all a bit up in the air at the moment. Right now I’m thinking of revamping the blog a bit, Word press is another thing I really need to get my head around better.
There are various reasons that I haven’t posted here for a while, but one of the main ones is that my magic iMac dictation device wasn’t working. I tried everything. But obviously not quite everything enough. However, this morning, eureka! The penny finally dropped that something had been turned off and sure enough, a quick trawl through my system preferences revealed that the microphone was for some reason disabled. So click click, and here I am.
Let’s face it quite a lot has happened since September! I worked really hard to get prints made for Impact and immediately after that I had to show to put together for the DC A Print Gallery.
All the same work more or less but it looks so different in different contexts. I was pleased with the show in the Print Gallery – a good selection of my Eye Can Draw work, sympathetically hung by Rob. It was well received and I sold a couple of prints, which can’t be bad.
But since then! Everything seems to have ground to a halt. Immediately after Christmas I worked hell for leather to get an application together for Creative Scotland’s end of year funding round. I hate funding applications at the best times and this all seemed such a rush. I waited on tenterhooks until the end of March when I finally got the rejection e-mail. Bugger eh, but what can you do? Be a better artist probably or possibly, a better application writer. However I’ve more or less stopped licking my wounds now and am beginning to get some ideas together.
So, onwards and upwards. Eye Can Draw seems to have pretty well finished – at least for the time being, so it’s back to the computer, the dreaded Adobe illustrator, and I think – a reassessment of drawings which I made on the project and have so far not developed. All I have to do now is remember how to use the dratted program. Watch this space!
It’s been so long since I’ve been here that I barely know where to start at bringing things up-to-date. Since my last post, so much printing has been going on. At some point over the past few months, we’ve had our proposal to show work at the Impact eight printmaking conference accepted; worked like stink at it, and finally, last week seen it all come to fruition.
As you can see above, the space for Dawson and myself was somewhat constrained but I think we made the best of it and certainly, lots of interest was generated in the project. It was a fairly prestigious event for us to be involved in and we were all very pleased to be selected. But if you must know, I was more than a little irritated by the fact that a project which is predicated upon the notion of enabling disabled artists to forward their work, should be showcased in such an inaccessible place. How the University of Dundee can get away with it in this day and age I really don’t know, but if a disabled artist should ever apply to attend Duncan of Jordanstone, God knows how they’d cope. Physical access is appalling, the building is full of flights of stairs and steps between levels – there are few ramps and there appears to be only one disabled toilet in the entire building, just outside the library and well away from the studio space. Maybe they just weed all us cripples out at the interview stage!
On a happier note we’re working on getting more shows for the project and it looks like our work is going to be featured in the Print Gallery at DCA very soon. Again, it’s a fairly small space and again, access is awful – but it keeps us in the public eye.
Earlier in the year the project was featured in the Small Society Lab event in the VRC, a very nice, large white box type of space and even if I say so myself, my work looked great.
Well, that’s all for now folks – my computer is malfunctioning. Typical! Just one more pic for luck.
Panic ye not possums, I have not relinquished the last of my marbles and taken up with Tayside’s finest. No! I have simply been printing – with the aid of my dynamic team of helpers – Rob (the brains) and Bruce (the gopher). The natty uniform displayed below, whilst superficially indicative of a coherent set up simply arose by accident when the boys took their jumpers off.
the boys at work
You might also notice if you’re familiar with the Print Studio set up that we are working on the big screen press, a source of some excitement for me as it was the first time I had actually seen it in use – generally due to our chronic shortage of storage space, it’s buried under mountains of paper and boxes. Many thanks to Katy for shifting it all in advance.
The project in hand was you will be aware if you have been paying attention, to print that inelegantly entitled masterwork the Multipuss. I really must come up with some classier titles for these pieces – and the result, shown below hanging next to it’s equally gawkily entitled precursor The Blob, was I feel, quite a triumph.
Multipuss and Blob
When I say that I have been printing, what I really mean is that I have been swanning around issuing instructions and tweaking ink colours but such is life as a physically challenged artist. I am not working this week as Dawson and I are now alternating our tracker sessions but for next week I am hatching a cunning plan. That should keep you all listening.
Bugger all this April malarkey, it’s February that is actually the cruellest month. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s miserable and all the bills from Christmas materialise and drop onto the doormat en mass. Propitious March brings St David’s Day and daffodils, half a day off and the school eisteddfod when I was a kid – it’s the start of Spring, the evenings get lighter and the rising temperature inspires us all to dump Winter inertia, start new projects and work. That’s the usual picture. But this year March came in like a lion and has so far, kept up the circus act; its bloody freezing. It has been snowing practically non-stop for the past couple of weeks, parts of Scotland have been without power since last Friday and I can’t get my wheelchair out of the house AGAIN!
Our Eye Tracking Project has been on go-slow as I have been repeatedly snowed in, and Rob has been catching up on his well earned holiday entitlement on what seem to have been alternate weeks. However, even against these odds some progress has been made. There is now a new blob, see below, and also a new multi limbed character known as the Sixtipus; who has further recently expanded his domain via Illustrator to become the Multipus. This boy’s shocking appearance cannot thus far be revealed due to some seasonal frailties in our documentation. Can you bear the tension?
Dawson has also been making good progress with the tracker and has made some lovely little etchings from his drawings which have a subtlety of touch in marked contrast to my own more strident images. The contrast between our respective efforts shows to my mind the genuine potential inherent in the technology.
So on April 1st, don’t laugh, I am scheduled to start work on a large screen print of the Multipus. I am still developing the dancing colour, discord theme so its sure to have a certain vigour – certainly not for the faint hearted!
I’m not sure that I really have that much to say this week but I feel that I really do need to tell you about the Blob. This is no ordinary blob but a one metre square, discordantly coloured woodblock print derived from my last eye tracking drawing. Voila!
Impressive what? I haven’t quite got my head around the reality of the process. One minute I’m sitting in a darkened room struggling to move a somewhat reluctant cursor around a patch of light on the wall with my eyes; the next thing I know, I’m watching the amazing laser cutter whittling one of my shapes out of MDF, ready to be inked up and printed.
The whole processes been really quite inspiring, as something essentially very abstract – the eye tracking process, has been transformed into something absolutely tangible, a work of art. Well, a print at least.
It has been interesting how my relationship with the thing has changed as it has developed, enabling my slightly megalomaniac tendencies to assert themselves as I visualise whole rooms full of multicoloured, dancing blobs screen-printed directly on to the walls. We can all at least dream!
And has become an even even more compelling fantasy since I saw the similarities between the shape and colour of my random blob and the wonderful cut-out works which Matisse made as he too made art through increasing disability. Not that I would presume such exalted company!