So my respite after a mad period of working non-stop has now come to an end. A self-induced end anyway, that studio ain't going to tidy itself! I've barely looked in, apart from to fling stuff in since the beginning of June. During the interim after returning from Spain, I had at least tidied my living room which had become an extension of my studio space in my flat. I could finally walk barefoot and not get skewered by hundreds of cut cocktail stick ends from Spikey the Hedgehog puppet. This burst of domestic goddessness came about mostly because I was due a visit from the gasman who was coming to have a look at my sickly boiler. Gotta have a deadline.
So yesterday, I set about the studio. After about 5 hours of sorting things and putting them in little boxes (I knew my collection of chinese take away containers were worth keeping) and other things in bigger boxes, I finally found part of the floor and most of my desk. I had a additional materials to find a place for as my friend Hazel donated some because she is moving back to Ireland and needed to offload stuff. I'm never one to say no to free materials but it's only when you try to find space for it you think maybe it wasn't such a good idea. I'll find space though. Still lots to sort but at least I can now do some work in there.
So now the nostalgia, I've been talking with friends from art school back in the nineties. Facebook, for all its bad bits, is blooming marvellous for finding people and to be found (as long as you want to be). I have reconnected with people I had lost touch with and I'm meeting my friend Mandy tomorrow in Edinburgh, I think possibly for the fist time since we finished. I don't really know where to go for food in Edinburgh any more but on Mandy's recommendation, we are going to have a lovely lunch in a very trendy looking place called Check Point (they do Bloody Marys for breakfast, that's all I need to know) and then doing the art thing by seeing the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition in the National Galleries.
It's been 20 years since we graduated. People say you should enjoy life when you can as it's over in the blink of an eye. It's only as you grow older that you realise the extent of this adage. Though I've done lots of different things in the intervening years and have many marvellous memories to show for my advancing years, it does seem like we were those bright-eyed bushy-tailed art students only yesterday. Am I older? Certainly. Wiser? Definitely. Feeling old? Never!! Here's to the next 20 years of nonsense and beyond.
In our recent chats, we spoke of our degree films which prompted me to upload the digital conversions I had made to YouTube. My degree was in Animation. The old fashioned kind. Stop-motion, where you have to enjoy moving objects tiny increments or drawing practically the same thing over and over and over and all usually in a darkened room. I loved it. My degree film, "The Story of Nej" was a puppet animation about a little goblin who lived underground and who just wanted some light in his dark, dark home. Then! Terror strikes!
I've not done a lot of animation since I finished, I blamed not forging a career in it on my youth, naivety and lack of gumption. Going straight to college from high school, I was quite a green, young thing and had no idea about life and what a career even entailed. My existing career has ended up a winding path of returning to education, doing art, doing good jobs to pay the bills, doing bad jobs to pay the bills and taking a chance on applying for an arts events internship that indirectly led me (through the amazing people I've met in the last 7 years) to doing what I should have done 20 years ago: Model making (which I am now studying). I had a realisation that I made only recently; I actually found the making of the Nej set and puppet more enjoyable than the making of the film. And I am infinitely better at it too. The film is fairly terrible; the editing, sound and basic story is fairly ropey but I still really like my set and puppet. So on to the next generation of Nejs!
Anyway, here is Nej in his full glory...
Back home now and finally putting my feet up. It's been an intense and wonderful two weeks with the brilliant folk in Riba Roja, Catalonia, Spain. The project for me began when I was visiting my friends Sarah and Chris back in April this year. They were telling me about an art project they were involved in with the local town hall; Riu d'Art. It was to be its second year calling out for public art proposals for the village. Having never written an art proposal or created any public art in my life, I really wasn't sure how to go about it but I'm so glad I did. If you ever get the opportunity to do something like this, grab it with both hands, it's a truly great experience.
My proposal was to develop my newly acquired welding skills and so I decided to create a steel sculpture. After a bit of research I found out Catalonia and Scotland share an equine national animal as well as desire to be an independent country by part of their populations. Combining these ideas, I created a chimeralike creature composed of a donkey and a unicorn. The title to the work is in Catalan, "La Sumera i l'Unicorn" (The Donkey and the Unicorn) signifying parts of the Catalan and Spanish feminine noun of both "sculpture" - "l'escultura/la escultura" and female donkey "la sumera" as well as the masculine unicorn - "l'unicorn/el unicornio". The sculpture was formed as a steel rod frame and found objects from the village, including from a recent demolition site of two houses in the village. After a good rummage I found various wheels, wire mesh and even a coffee pot that I used to fill out the sculpture. I felt in some way it will keep a part of those houses alive as part of the village. As a side note, during the demolition of the houses, they found a secret cavern. It may have been an underground cellar but they are gong to investigate it further so it will be interesting to see what history they can find in there.
A wee pictorial synopsis of the work going on during the project and the inauguration below.
I'd just like to thank all the people of the village of Riba Roja, for their welcome, kindness and enthusiasm. Thank you to Fransesc and all at the ajuntiment for all their hard work and everything they did for us. Thank you to Albert for letting me in to his workshop, letting me abuse his tools, time and space and for all his help. To Josep, Miguel and Pepe Lu for your kindness and efforts. To all at Potas and Pizza Art, thank you for feeding us so well. To the beautiful Anna and Phil who always make the world seem so light and bring so much colour, it was great getting to know you better. To the lovely Olly Hall, who brought nonsense, fun and slight danger when climbing pylons, it was wonderful meeting and getting to know you. And special thanks to Sarah and Chris who always bring such amazing happenings together. I'm so glad I know you and have experienced all these wonderful things with you. You're beautiful people.
Was pretty exhausted when I got home late on Monday night but no rest for the wicked as I had an exhibition to put up on Wednesday. Just a small one in the 13th Note, entitled "Goddesses". Thanks to Tom, wonderful framer, for giving me a hand in with frames and Hazel for helping me hang. Had a wee soft opening last night and a good catch up with loads of mates who I haven't seen in a while. Was just lovely. The exhibition is on until the end of July so plenty of time for people to go have a gander.
So that is it. All done and dusted. Sculpture in place, workshop tidied up, flown home, exhibition up and opened and now sitting on my arse doing nothing. Think I'll do this for a little while...
Jennifer Kilgour is an artist and maker specialising in model making, sculpture, painting and drawing.
She has also occasionally made the odd animation, wooden furniture and walking the family dog in the woods.