Ten Books is a project initiated by My Bookcase and hosted by Project Café, Glasgow, that invites artists, writers and readers to share ten books that have influenced their work. More
Moving image work commissioned and exhibited by Picture Window and Market Gallery for Sonica Festival 2015, Glasgow. Soundtrack made in collaboration with Jessica Argo. The work was shown in the public-facing windows of the gallery every night for the duration of the festival. Watch video here.
I spent my summer in the city, and during those hot unsettled months I had many vivid dreams. Certain themes keep recurring, I noted in my diary. Water, crowds, journeys. All very emotional. I wrote. I suppose it was my brain’s way of processing the extra information. On one of my first days in the city I found the words I DREAM AS BADLY AS I TAG scribbled on the back of a toilet door. How can you dream badly? I remember thinking. Does it mean you have bad dreams, like the nightmare I had when I was five about Beetlejuice drilling a hole in my hand. Or does it mean that you are bad at dreaming?
On one of my last days in the city we made a special trip to the record shop tucked behind our favourite café, stacked floor to ceiling with records and out-dated equipment, where the owner sat, god-like, enthroned behind a wide desk, his attendants the smiling faces of long-dead singers stuck to the wall.
He sold me a record featuring Marika Ninou, one of the most famous singers of her day. It is a rare live recording from Fat Jimmy’s in 1955, and you can hear the sounds of passing motorbikes and jokes from the crowd. As it says on the back of the record:
“In order to understand the importance of this testimony, we have to bear in mind that in 1955 we are very close to the end of the Civil War, in a period where the rural population comes into the cities or emigrates, where the American way of life becomes a target, while dreams and expectations struggle to come on the surface and governments are formed and collapse in a strange atmosphere of tremendous discoveries and peculiar alliances.
A successful programme is composed with exoticism, moral lessons, rememorations, cries, desires, Turkish songs and recent hits. This pot-pourri becomes more and more punching and reaches its peak at the end in a series of jokes that constitute the surest outline of the Greek reality we have forgotten, although its consequences are on our shoulders … in that transitional period, where songs were a social contract, a joyful opening to the world, a healthy search of pleasure.”
As I place the needle on the record, time and space are flattened. Or maybe not flattened, rather, reorganised, into one malleable present, as dreams can do. The past and present and a potential future all right now and I can feel it, as her voice passes straight through my ears and into my heart.
Produced for the exhibition ‘The Shock of Victory’ at the CCA, Glasgow..
Myself and Serra Tansel spent June and July 2015 in Athens, Greece, as witnesses to and participants in a time of intense political activity. Putting our bodies amongst many other bodies at protests and rallies and around tables - on the night of the referendum on 5th July 2015 and on many other nights - was an emotional and politicising experience for us both.
For this event we invited people from a range of backgrounds and professions to contribute writing, images, music, film, objects and poetry that reflected upon, questioned or re-imagined the events of summer 2015 in Greece. These people are mostly Greek, though not all, and based in Athens, though some are now back in their respective European countries. What connects them is that they shared this time in Athens with us.
With contributions from: Laura Bray & Dimitris Kassis; Becky Campbell; Catriona Gallagher; Dimitris Makropoulos; Panagis Marketos; Elisabeth Molin; Maria Papapostolou; Stelios Tsilioukas; Augustus Veinoglou; Talc Design Studio; and Lydia Lazari.
Watch the video of the event here
Download the PDF publication here
Kalypsō lived on the island of Ogygia where she detained Odysseus for several years. The etymology of Kalypsō's name is from καλύπτω (kalyptō), meaning "to cover", "to conceal", "to hide", or "to deceive".
‘The page that was blank to begin with is now crossed from top to bottom with tiny black characters – letters, words, commas, exclamation marks – and it’s because of them the page is said to be legible. But a kind of uneasiness, a feeling close to nausea, an irresolution stays my hand – these make me wonder: do these black marks add up to reality? The white of the paper is an artifice that’s replaced the translucency of parchment and the ochre surface of clay tablets; but the ochre and the translucency and the whiteness may all possess more reality than the signs that mar them’
- Jean Genet, Prisoner of Love
This event and exhibition created with Serra Tansel marked the end of our two-month residency at Snehta, Athens.
My contribution was an archive table, a video, and a performative reading. The 9s video - 'Untitled (Hands)' - played on a loop within the exhibition, can be viewed here.
The performative reading was of two short stories written while in Athens - 'Broken Waters / Honey Steps', which Becky Campbell and I read simultaneously across the two balconies of Snehta.
Part of Domestic Voyage Performance Series at Snehta, Athens.
We would be warm, we would be warm
Installation featuring text and performance, April 2015
Part of the exhbition 'This house has been far out at sea', curated by Joanna Monks for Glasgow Open House Festival 2015.
Installation of text, video, ceramics and mirror. Part of the group exhibition '?!*' at The Pipe Factory, Glasgow.
House Visit is a collaborative research project investigating the rich traditions and current state of self-organising artist communities initiated by Conor Cooke, Birthe Jorgensen, Emil Lillo, Joanna Peace and Iede Reckman. Taking place between The Hague and Scotland.
Installation of recorded voices and upholstered seating. Part of a group exhibition at the Glasgow Print Studio. Listen to the audio here.
Installation of text, projection, ceramics and upholstered frame. Exhibited at SWG3 Gallery, Glasgow.
The paper that resulted from a period of research in Glasgow and Utrecht was first presented at the Buildings & the Body Symposium: Exploring Living and Building in the Medieval and Early Modern World, at Southampton University, 27 - 28 June 2014.
From her cell on the south-facing wall of the Buurkerk in Utrecht, Dutch anchorite Suster Bertken (1426/7 – 1514) spent 57 years composing mystical poetry and songs, praying, and giving counsel to passersby in return for food. This paper takes a cross-disciplinary look at the gesture of ‘walling in’ that Bertken undertook at the age of 30, and draws this gesture, her life and the writing she produced, into relation with feminist histories, literature and art practice from the 20th and early 21st centuries.
View the full paper and accompanying images and new writing on Past-Forward.net
Project A – warm. Full.
I had been trying to find a way back to Project Ability since finishing a six-month project with them in May 2015. Returning to the ReConnect studio as an artist rather than a tutor has been a happy challenge. A colourful puzzle. What is the magic that happens daily in those studios? I began by opening myself to the currents of the studio, how it works as a shared and individualised mesh of negotiated spaces and rhythms, and what my place within it, though temporary, might be.
I had been lonely working at home. The days of January felt especially short with few human faces to fill them. The best thing about my cubby hole at the edge of the ReConnect studio was the empty chair that fellow artists would fill and offer stories, and advice, and recommendations for TV shows and books, and ask “just what is it you’re doing?”. Another best thing were the white walls onto which I could stick emergency yellow, baby blue and apple green post-it notes of thoughts lest they fly away and experiments in type and collage. Another best thing was entering the studios and having smiles met with smiles met with generous expanses of colour and line.
Gifts I received – Cathedral, a book of short stories by Raymond Carver. Yellow-topped mountains painted calmly into a Canadian lake. A raspberry ink box and a slice of spongy carrot cake.
Mostly it was words I worked with during this residency. Words heard and read and conjured then scattered to walls, to notebooks, to the floor, out of mouths and into the bin. With a big box of old Letraset I could stretch and repeat words into time as I rubbed them on to sheets of coloured sugar paper where they could then take up physical space (the further from my laptop the better). These words placed map-like across the wall formed patterns of meaning and attempts at order - a studio cosmos. “The cosmos … is a tingling in the spine, a memory of falling from a great height” – from Cosmos, written and presented by Carl Sagan.
Trust the triangle. Three points of contact was the genesis of a collaboration with Simon McAuley, ReConnect artist, photographer and friend. Simon used the climbing analogy of three points of contact to describe how he navigates the daunting task of a drawing. We decided to spend five days finding points of contact and passing, repetition and routine within the studios, and through writing exercises the architecture and objects we studied took on distinctive gestures, sounds and personalities.
‘That’s a funny story, Rita says, but I can see she doesn’t know what to make of it. I feel depressed. But I won’t go into it with her. I’ve already told her too much. She sits there waiting, her dainty fingers poking her hair. Waiting for what? I’d like to know. It is August. My life is going to change. I feel it.’ - from Fat by Raymond Carver.
Murmer…crescendo…murmer. Rumours of cats are flying around the studio these days. Over the next few months I will be working with Luke Shaw and Project Ability artists on a publication of their writing and image-making. The launch of this will coincide with the opening of ‘Cats’, a group show in the Project Ability gallery.
This project began in January 2015, when I invited ten artists to meet with me once a month in our homes to support and challenge one another in our endeavours to write critically and creatively.
The form of each meeting so far has been different, and included straightforward feedback sessions as well as performance workshops and writing retreats, and in 2015 we made our first publication in collaboration with My Bookcase.
The project travelled to Athens where I hosted a temporary Writing Group between June - July 2015.
This project is ongoing, with a growing and shifting group of participants.
"Things must first get bad, worse, worst, beyond what my language can hold. I creep about all day in the thickets of my life, screaming like a wild man and clapping my hands. You would not believe what hair-raising creatures this flushes up" - Rilke
Performance of the text-in-progress 'Under the Dome' as part of ECA's Friday Lecture Series 'Narrative' curated by Claire Walsh & Suzanne van der Lingen, 24 March 2017.
A collaboration between ten artists and the National Trust for Scotland, Cabinet Interventions interrogates the role of material culture in defining place. In post-Brexit Scotland, how might often-contested identities and histories be articulated through artist practice in institutions such as the Trust?
In 2017 ten artists spent time in residence at Pollok House, using diverse tactics to explore the cultural, political, historical, ecological and sensorial context of the site.
The exhibition in April 2018 - programmed as part of Glasgow International 2018 - draws upon that research and dialogue to present original sound, installation, text and performance within and around the House.
This project has been devised and led by artists Shauna McMullan, Susan Brind and Joanna Peace, alongside Ruth Barker, Jim Harold, Jasper Coppes, Alan Currall, Sarah Forrest, Shona Macnaughton and Duncan Marquiss.
A sculptural intervention, two pamphlets and a reading produced in collaboration with Conor Cooke for the exhibtion and conference 'Pilgrims & Pilgrimage' at Govan Old Church, Glasgow.
Two sets of stories find a precarious resting place atop the pews. Written at a great distance from the other, each makes attempts at mobility, but these are inverted or introverted by the characters they evoke. Loving acts of labour cross the water line. Complications are to be expected when ingesting or inhabiting any part of the work.
Installation of photographic lightboxes and a recording of a story read aloud at Pollok House, Glasgow. Part of the exhibition Cabinet Interventions, programmed as part of Glasgow international 2018.
The ground we built our homes upon is giving way. A tower is burning and there is ash in the air. The coffee at the bottom of my cup is, today, unreadable. And still, we find ourselves in paradise, that walled garden. What do our eyes fix upon? What are their names?