‘Battle for Middle Scotland’, oil on panel, 2017, 46cm x 60cm
In recent years I have got into the habit of doing at least one drawing every day in my sketchbook no matter how small, quick or insignificant. This enables a continuity of practice during protracted periods where I am too busy within my day job for concentrated efforts on studio paintings. Little by little through, both observed and invented drawings, a world of ideas and thoughts get recorded and held for another day. During 2016 I took this idea one step further and made a much larger piece made up of many smaller drawings created and improvised in response to the previous one – with no overall pictorial plan. It started with an observed drawing of the interior Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool where I swim regularly. I am fascinated with their 4 pool zones, the changes in height, its diving boards and the operational control – It feels like a James Bond baddies’ base. From there, the drawing went into a complete freefall where day by day I would add and invent annexes, people and chambers and landscapes and planes. I called it the ‘Accumulation of Small Advantages’ as that is how I approached it. The work was shown as an installation at Visual Arts Scotland FLY2016 at the Royal Scottish Academy.
‘Battle for Middle Scotland’ took as its starting point a section of ‘Accumulation’ and, while I started it on one panel, I tried to adopt the same improvisational spirit and actively hid sections while I drew out other parts. The planes in the sky seemingly like my made up planes I drew as a child when I created sky battles. As the muted colours of the painted layers developed, it became clearer to me this was becoming the story of an uninvited invasion on lands which are treasured and mainly unspoiled. It could be the Scottish Borders or the heart of Perthshire or where I grew up in Aberdeenshire. I don’t know. But it is definitely a battle for the heart of middle class Scotland and this is where the title comes from. The zebras and the giraffes? I just don’t know.
Please contact the Open Eye Gallery to enquire about this and other works in the show.
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