This is a piece I wrote about my adventures this week with the Dighty group. I am recording peoples stories and memories about the burn and the following is a result of recent conversations. The comment about community service is a joke Stuart and I shared whilst litter picking along from Sainsburys, and all the other references came from stories I have been told including the one about a young squaddie in Hong Kong meeting a film star.
dead fingers wi’ cold.
Picking litter on the roadside
wi’ oor wee grabby sticks.
Community service we chuckle.
“Ah weel”, he says
“That’ll teach yous fae locking the bobby in his tardis,
I walk and the world unfolds. I think its as simple as that. Writing is stretching me and I am returning to painting. This painting is from the Dighty walk, a view to the Sidlaw hills from the railway track. Out one day I met a man who walked the hills every day. He said he did to escape himself.
Here is a recording of ‘The Hunting Ground’, the composition which was part of my MFA degree show. It is a fictional walk along a fictional street in Dundee, and yet all the words and images have come from my observations and conversations from my walking of two lines through the city repeatedly this year.
I am walking a new line, the line of the Dighty burn which runs to the north of Dundee. The burn starts its journey at Lundie loch in the hills to the north of the city and finds its way through agricultural, industrial and residential landscapes before it finally meets the sea at Monifieth, some 15 miles in length. I shall be walking, writing, drawing and painting my way along this line. I am being funded by Dighty Connect without whom this project would not happen.
Here is a start to my journey, a piece I wrote whilst walking in Lundie –
I am now half way through the performance schedule of the composition ‘The Hunting Ground’. This is a piece hewn from historical research, observation, documentation, drawing, painting, photography and conversation from the two lines I have been walking all year here in Dundee. Alongside the factual accounting, the fictional runs, weaving in and out, creating a new walk along a new line.
The performances have been varied in venue and attendance, each a new version of the text . All have been enjoyable and the responses interesting and considered. Many have likened the piece to a modern ‘Under Milk Wood’, and said that the pictures made are vivid, like ‘Painting with words’, said one person. It prompted another to say that he would leave the gallery and look at the street with an eye as to how he might tell a story.
Most have said that I should make an audio recording of the piece, and so shortly I will set to and do that. Will let you now when it is ready. The book ‘Where I Am Is Here’ which is also a component of the installation is now available to buy online. It contains the text to ‘The Hunting Ground’, plus other texts, paintings, drawings and photographs that make up the narrative portrait of my line walking. You can view it on Blurb.com.
Here is a picture taken just after my performance on Dundee Law. It was a lovely, small audience, and they endured gale force winds and cold bums whilst sitting on the steps to the Law monument, listening to me this morning. Thankyou.
This is my artist statement for the Duncan of Jordanstone Masters show website –
How do we tell stories about the city and its people and how can transience act as a route through the stories we make?
Walking for myself and the resultant observation and reflection act as a starting point to conjure with ideas about where factual accounting and the fictional meet, where the boundaries between these two states can blur and co-exist. I have been walking a north south and an east west line in Dundee which I return to repeatedly. The imposition of abstract lines on the landscape gives rise to the notion of organised chance, in that every walk is a repeat in terms of pattern, and yet, different and new each time. The lines become articulations of narrative. There is a stratigraphy of layers in the research and material production which reveal the origins of the research and also the temporal and cross medial dimensions.
I use text, drawing, photography and performance in relation to investigation and presentation, the strands being woven together to illuminate on the one hand but displace and fracture on the other. This has come together as the installation ‘Drawing The Line Somewhere’ – a bench, a book and a performance.
The composition ‘The Hunting Ground’ is one chapter of the installation ‘Drawing the line somewhere’, part of the Masters Art Society and Publics show at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design – 15th August – 24th August. This piece is being performed in venues in Dundee during the ten days of the exhibition.
The Hunting Ground – dates and venues :
Monday 4th August – Fintry Writers Group – 11am
Tuesday 5th Aug – Douglas Community Centre – 12.30pm
Saturday 16th Aug – Verdant Works – 2pm
Sunday 17th Aug – Dundee Law 12.00pm
Sunday 17th Aug – Visual Research Centre, DCA,- 2pm