First piece in new studio. Still life. mixed media on linen 1m x 1m. Happy now I have made something. I can get on with unpacking the rest of the house. Mess, boxes and can’t find anything….. But living opposite a cafe and a chippy – tea, cake and fish suppers, what more can you ask for ? Just as well as there’s no kitchen in the house…..!
Conversations in the city.
Telling stories of who we are, from where we came – Scotland, England, Ireland, France. Stories of travelling across water in a rowing boat. ‘Life is a shipwreck, remember to sing in the lifeboats’. Voltaire (?) We strike up with ‘Shiver me timbers’ by Tom waits and grin as we forget half of the words.
This is to you all – Ann, Jane, Stuart, David, Derek, Catherine, Trevor, Brian, Nicky, Frances, Barbara, Noreen, Gillian, Kenny and Davey. You have taken me in, showed me how to do stuff and made me laugh. My adopted Dundee family. Thankyou.
The Dighty burn is braw, or from my part of the world – gert lush !
See you all in the new year, oh, except for my Christmas dinner at Sansburys invite, don’t forget !
And here is my final drawing of a giant Tunnocks teacake, jist fae yous.
ps I’ll be back scribbling soon.
Balunie Drive. This is my last bus shelter drawing,on a dreich,wet Monday September morning. Not a soul to talk to as I pencil grey on grey. Still the buses stop for me which is nice as I smile and shake my head. I am on my own, and today I like that. I can just enjoy the making of marks in this landscape fixing the detail in my memory as only drawing can.
Monday morning. Sounds of the broom seed pods popping in the sun, the smell of ripening blackberries in the air. The shift of the seasons has begun. I am back by the pond, a place I have not visited since early Spring. I sit down and get out my drawing paper and suddenly this jewel of blue and its compliment of scorching orange flashes in front of my eyes away to the rushes on the island. I am sharing my morning with a kingfisher. It keeps coming back, again and again as if trying to get my attention, and every time I see it my heart leaps. Really it does. The thunder of the traffic not far on the dual carriageway scores the soundtrack against its flight. How utterly beautiful, its blue impossible to describe, and I feel deeply touched by its presence.
Here is an attempt to introduce my thoughts about what the Dighty book I am trying to compile might actually be about. Some suggestions if you like about this landscape and the people I have met. In many ways it is also an attempt at understanding for myself as I wrestle with the words and texts that have come from this project and it pushes me further down the path of having to get down to some work ….. It goes something like this….
Dighty burn. – Introduction –
This collection of words and images is, at first glance as random as it can get. And that is in some respects how it should be, how it ought to exist, given the random nature of some of the meetings with this place and its people. It is however a journey of sorts, a series of foot notes if you like that neither explain nor describe this burn, rather illuminate moments of connection made through walking. In the film ‘Patience ( After Sebald )’, Robert Mcfarlane describes the difference between the British and Americans when it comes to walking. He says that for the American a walk is one of discovery. For the Briton it is one recovery. For both these outcomes I am thankful, and also for the generosity of those I have chatted with, had tea and biscuits and a laugh, being equally baffled, impressed and moved by the subjects of conversation. The burn, is at times a difficult, dirty space but also a beautiful, open space, a product of its industrial past, a dumping space, a wildlife haven, a dog walking space, a childhood place, a drink and drug taking place and a space that people regard as part of the communities collective memory. It is a boundary between the city and the country, the frontier, an edge land. I have been looking at where those edges meet, which means that, at times, the documented slips quietly underneath into a world imagined by myself, resurfacing as a new layer of the story.
The Dighty burn has been my creative home and this collection represents a period of time spent in this landscape. It could keep being added to for as long as I am witness to this place. But I will shortly no longer be present, for no other reason than it feels the right time to stop and listen.
Lines of the council mowers cut into the grass. A chilly day of cloud and rain lifted by my conversations later with the walkers from Douglas . I hear stories of pea and ham soup, of soldiers returning home from japan at the end of the war, and bridies and onions prompting everyone to say – ‘ananinginaneana’, that well known Dundonian saying which translates as ‘an onion one as well’. Benidorm palace and its variety acts of wonder. Tucking your skirt in your knickers for playing at the burn and going for a ride in a yellow submarine. Sucky sweets and getting laughed at for being the youngest – nae free bus pass ! Back for a cup of tea and a piece wi’ jam and a wee bit more chat…… A cracking afternoon.