I found this piece of writing when looking through a notebook and thought I would share it here as I have already posted some images of folded books made over the last few years. Perhaps this gives a context to why I was lead to their making.
“For some time now, maybe forty years, I have been interested in sequences. In the past it was how one idea changed into another over time and familiarity so that in a year of drawing you could observe the thoughts and preoccupations as they evolved and developed. In the end it was this change that interested me more than the individual piece, with the occasional exception. I remember that when applying to Art School and preparing my portfolio, it was how an idea developed throughout the time I had been working towards the application that interested me the most.
More recently this linear progression intrigued me enough to become frustrated by the edge of a page or canvas and this frustration coincided with my introduction to Japanese albums or concertina sketchbooks. Since then I have been on a quest to learn new things and have been to north Devon to be shown how to bind a concertina, to North Uist to perfect the methods involved and a month ago, to the isle of Iona to learn some simple bindings. But as with many things, especially when you don’t live in the hub, books and all things papery and with pages, seem to have become The Thing. Everywhere you look, people are making artists books and limited editions and perhaps it is another way of getting art off the wall and out of the grasp of the gallery owner.
My latest edition to this genre is a three meter long strip of photographs of a walk round the garden. The pictures have been taken over ten years by Norrie, myself and the occasional other. They are printed in one long strip and then folded into a concertina with a simple binding, title and wrapper.”
My return from Iona was interesting. After a few days of domestic tasks to catch up with the backlog, I began to think about my work. I even found I dreamt about the making of paintings on Iona and it was a real struggle to adjust to the ordinary demands of daily life. I had a clear awareness that for the life of an artist to be authentic, you have to give it everything. An all or nothing process. Especially for women who are used to the demands of a domestic life, that is very hard. Being on Iona had shone light into my creative process and helped me to understand the level of committment I needed. In a crab like manner, possibly sideways, I am crawling towards a solution but there are not many of us who can throw everything away and just live the passion of a singular life. After remembering how attached Norrie is to his home and a quick appraisal of Scottish property prices, the dream of living in one room with a paintbrush soon appeared improbable but how to hold on to the single-minded committment and focus remains a challenge.
Since then we have had Christmas, New Year and some extraordinary weather, with gales, power cuts, hail storms and snow along with close to three inches of rain in one twenty-four hours. Throughout it all, I have reminded myself that the joy of the waves on Iona was the power of nature and the awareness of the smallness of man. So it is all part of the same subject and now the task is to find a new vehicle to express it.
Live on the west coast of Scotland I may, but such a different sort of landscape than the subject I had found on Iona. Yes, we live by the sea but the waves bear no comparison and without the white sand, the sea is not quite so green. We have hills, lochs, rivers and trees here. Beaches but not the same, with the remains of salmon traps and rocks and pebbles and seaweed. Altogether a different sort of place.
I use my small compact camera to inch towards the research necessary to seek out a new subject. I go for little walks between the squalls and have made a vow to take photographs every day. A scrap book is emerging and along with some internet shopping for new materials and phone conversations with helpful art shops, I am preparing to make new work.
And lastly, I have made a pact with myself to go away, alone, to an isolated place and with a box of paint, cut myself off from daily demands and just work. How many times a year I am not sure but with Norries support I will try for three but it is more likely to be two.
View of Ben Nevis through the window of our self catering Garden Studio.