The only thing missing at the moment is an ice cold mojito. Lying by the Riba Roja d'Ebre local outdoor swimming pool (in the shade) I am trying to contemplate the words for this blog entry my Rui d'Art project adventure. I have had a full day of welding already, starting at 7.30am to get the coolest part of the day. Have managed to get the tail and most of the torso together. Albert gave me a good refresher and tips throughout. He tells me he has been welding since a small boy. When all the other kids were out playing he was welding and soldering so he is a master of the art. My welds have been fairly successful. As I have only had some weeks of an evening class welding experience, I knew I probably wouldn't find it too easy at first but, as Albert says, once I've done 300 I'll be perfect. I do hope so. I'll lose some welding time to the weekend so that gives me 5 complete days to finish. However that also includes the installation. Once I get to head (the most intricate part) I'm sure I'll be storming through it.
I have been known to be impulsive on occasion, not often but sometimes. It's at times like these that I start to think, why on Earth have I decided to do a time limited big project, in a country I don't know the language, making something using a technique and materials I'm barely familiar with? But then I think it's because I love it. Making things has always been me. I've always loved learning new things too. So what if I'm not sure what I'm doing, I'll make damn sure I produce something. Something I'm proud of and learn a lot along the way. That's the thing about art and creation. Unless you're producing something that has a specific function that requires precision and expertise like a building; art is organic, changeable, it can also be functional but it doesn't need to be. So as the artist, I can produce anything I like. If it's different to what I set out do, well, that's my prerogative. So many people are good at bullshitting and selling the audience the idea that that was what they wanted all along. Me, I'm no good at bullshitting, I'll apologise for something before it's happened (very Scottish) but the working with and adapting with how a project moves is the only way to avoid insanity. I have a split in myself between perfection, precision and the aforementioned spontaneity that includes going with the flow. It definitely helps with any frustrations. In saying all this, I am planning to get the project done as I had intended. This is just my disclaimer. A must for everyone.
But back to the pool. It's not very busy but there are a bunch of kids playing in the pool and there are some adults sunbathing and chilling. There is a mixture of Spanish/ Catalan and English voices. There is a steady amount of English ex-pats here and they all seem fairly well integrated. It will be interesting to see what the next episode of the Brexit saga holds for them.
I haven't been in the pool yet but wanting to leave the inticing cool waters until I am thoroughly drenched in sweat on this sun lounger. The sun is moving round making the edge of the shade inch closer to my ever so pale body. Sweating is part of the deal here. Rehydrating is a must so I constantly have a big bottle of water wherever I go. I sweated so much this morning the dye of my headscarf that was acting as a sweat soaker upper stained my forehead blue. I think I got it all off.
So meeting Oliver, the next artist to arrive, this evening, then dinner and the Devils. Quite a full day.
I had my first day in the metal workshop to start building my metal donkey unicorn for the Riu d'Art project in Riba Roja d'Ebre, Catalonia today. Lots of cutting and shaping…after realising I had calculated the circumference of the frame rings completely wrong. It was only when I started to bend the first one I started to think this ring is going to be massive! Yes, children: when calculating the circumference of an ellipse, always remember to use the RADIUS and NOT THE DIAMETER in a Google calculator that requires the RADIUS. What? Did you think I would be calculating it myself?? Get tae…. Circles? nae bother but have you seen the possible algebraic equations when dealing with ellipses?
Those mathematical geniuses amongst you may scoff but maths and I are not good bedfellows. I can count and add…just…but much more and my brain just gets tired and says NO! Anyway, got there in the end and so today the *rings for the trunk (that makes it sound like a tree. Not going to be a tree) have been shaped and cut. Albert, the owner of the workshop, has given me a corner and has been brilliant and incredibly helpful. His English is fairly good, fluent compared to my Spanish which is pretty non-existent and so far, everything is cushty.
I had been busy with my 2D AutoCad forming some sort of plans and dimensions, more a guidance really. They took a fair amount of time and my brain power but I’m glad I took the time as the project is more formed in my brain.
It was all theoretical but with a bit of artistic licence, I’m hoping he won’t to be too much of a wonky donkey. Will see how things look as I go along I think. The good thing about welding is, if a bit looks wrong you can always lop it off and stick another bit on. In my welded sculpture, it is anyway.
Getting the frame right is my first challenge; that’s what my plans were all about. I’m using 8 and 10mm steel rod. Easy to cut with trusty angle grinder and very pliable to bend into shape and apart from my slight mis-calculation regarding circumferences, things are looking ok so far. My plans sectioned up the different limbs, head, torso and tail. I’m going to build these sections one at a time so if there are any major gaffs in my calculations, I can see it easy enough and adjust; you always need to be adaptable in art creation. It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle but you need to make the pieces too.
After a hard day’s work (today only few of hours’ admittedly but more tomorrow ;-D), I am clinging to my new lovely fan, having a cold Estrella and listening to Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam (they are well cool, love them so, check them out).
The heat is crazy here but I’m slightly acclimatising or at least coping better than I thought. I am a complete woose when it comes to being too hot or too cold and can get a bit whiney (as many of friends can testify). However, in my defence, only in extreme circumstances, like when I get so overheated my feet and ankles swell up so much it feels like the skin is going to split open or when I can’t feel my feet because of the cold and they start to go blue and I can’t fall asleep at night. Essentially, if my feet are happy so is the rest of me. When I return, I may be just as white as I left Scotland; boiler suit and welding helmet are not conducive for sunbathing, as is the fact that I’m in a big airy garage (thank the gods and little fishes, sweated buckets but no over-heating and it was 38°C today!). The local outdoor swimming pool has just opened for the summer so I think I’ll pay it a visit tomorrow after work. Not planning on sun-bathing, the shade is fine for me, quite happy to stay pale and interesting. Parasol and mojito anyone?
Also, tomorrow, two exciting things are happening; one of the other artists Oliver Hall, is arriving, so it will be nice to have some company in the apartment and there is a fire festival in the village celebrating Sant Joan. It’s an excuse for folk to dress up as devils, run about banging drums and setting off millions of fireworks into heavily crowded areas. And why not, I say? Something that would never be allowed in the UK. They like their fire, the Spaniards and Catalonians do. I’ve been advised by my friend and local legend, Josep, to wear closed-toe shoes, trousers and a straw hat. The covering up seems a very sensible thing to do but the straw hat? I’m not sure that wearing very flammable head gear is the way to go. The fact that Josep kept repeating in his email that I shouldn’t be afraid, it’s an amazing night but don’t be scared, it’s spectacular but it really isn’t frightening, it’s so much fun but don’t be worried…etc etc has now given me cause to be wary. However, I shall be intrepid and embrace the night with non-scaredycat aplomb and run with the Devils…well, maybe a delicate saunter and then stand behind the guy lighting the fireworks, wearing my boiler suit and welding mask with a bucket of water handy…just in case.
Ooh, Mariachi El Bronx just come on the tunes. Nice. Anyone for the dancin’?
So I'm currently sitting in a lovely air conditioned office working out steel rod lengths. It's roasting outside but I have sunscreen and I haven't been bitten by any bitey insects yet so all is well. No, I'm not in Scotland, I'm in Spain, Catalonia to be exact.
I've been pretty darn busy the last while, having just completed my first year doing my HND 3D Design: Model Making course at City of Glasgow College. It's been an absolute blast and I've learnt so much as well as made new friends. So what have I learned? Well, a bit too much to write everything down in a blog post but safe to say I'm much more knowledgeable about glueing, cutting, sanding, laser-cutting, vacuum forming, mould making, puppet making, door making, finish painting and AutoCad than I was before. So looking forward to next year. Here's a run down on the models I've made...
A 3:1 shell, a 7:1 cashew nut, 11:1 section of a silver dollar, a 1:1 half a chrome egg, a replica of a Glasgow doorway, a leather bound 17th Century book (new and aged versions), a hedgehog puppet and 1:11 replica (with a bit of artistic licence) of Labyrinth's Gates to the Goblin City complete with moving Humongous. Gawd, it makes me exhausted just thinking about it. We certainly packed it in. Oh and I also did a cheeky wee welding evening class and made a metal bird feeder.
I still need to get some proper photos of completed works but here's a wee gallery of images of my work that I have so far...
So why am I in Spain? And what's this about Donkey Unicorns, I hear you ask with trepidation? Well, I must be very wicked because I decided to head off to Spain only two days after I finished college to take part in an art project, Rui d'Art in Riba Roja d'Ebre, Catalonia. Wanting to continue my welding practice, I sent in a sculpture proposal to the project that facilitates the creation of public art in the village. The project is organised partly by some good friends of mine, that's how I found out about it, but I had never done anything like this before. They assured me, however, that I should give it a go. So with a half baked idea I put together a proposal. The final say came down to the local council (ajuntament) and the town mayor so I wasn't guaranteed a place but apparently they loved my idea, so here I am. Other artists involved with the project are Anna Georgiou, Phil Bird, Oliver Hall, Sarah Misselbrook and some local artists too. My idea? That's where the Donkey Unicorn comes in.
As an unashamed supporter for independence for Scotland from the UK, I knew Catalonia has a similar desire to be independent from Spain. With this obvious connection I thought there must be something to play with there. Scotland and Catalonia are both rich in traditional produce, though with very different things; Scotland with its wild salmon and whisky and Catalonia with its olives and wine, to name but a few. I've always had an interest in symbolism and that lead me to think about Scotland's national animal, the Unicorn. Yes, that's right, our national animal is a mythical, magical, horned horse. Then finding out that Catalonia's national animal was a similar equine beast, the Catalan donkey, the potential project's fate was sealed. A DONKEY UNICORN. Of course, I hadn't quite thought it through that I would be welding in 35+ celsius heat but in for a penny.... Sitting in this air conditioned office, fannying about with my design and calculating measurements on AutoCad, I can't quite imagine what it will be like. Early mornings will definitely be the key! I've been looked after so well already, I'm raring to go. The whole village is really up for it and helping in any ways required. It's going to be an adventurous and artistic two weeks.
So these smashers are going for a song. With over 50% off you can bag a woodland critter for £40 each or for more than one for a further 10% discount. i.e. buy 2 for £72. All framed and ready to hang. Contact me through the Contact page or my Facebook page.
You can see larger photos on my Painting page as well as other work.
Here is the Facebook album gallery of my Inktober drawings, the daily ink drawing challenge I did last month. All works are for sale, some originals are sold but prints are available for all images. Send me a message via my Facebook page or Contact form for sales and info. Some originals are sold but all available as prints.
For the month of October, I'm joining in the daily ink drawing challenge Inktober. It was started as an annual event by an American illustrator dude named Jake Parker in 2009. There are loose word prompts but you can do anything and people post up their images on social media and hashtagged #inktober #inktober2016 #inktober2GO. I'm putting mine up on my Instagram and sharing on Facebook. Anyone can join in. It's a great way of getting a bit of discipline and improving your skills. I haven't worked much in ink so it will be a good challenge for me. I've been enjoying it so far, hope I can keep up!
Keep posted with how I do on my Instagram to see the daily results. Here's my Day 1: Fast.
On Sunday 2nd October at The Thistle Gallery there will be a wonderful afternoon dedicated to Alice in Wonderland. A tea party with performance of extracts from the book, Alice themed art works available for purchase and lots of goodies. All to support MacMillan Cancer Support who do amazing work. I've one watercolour as part of the exhibition and I am so delighted that Carol at the Thistle Gallery invited me to show. Best of luck to all those showing and involved in the event. It'll be a magical event for everyone. It's ticketed at £30 but there are still some tickets left. Call Carol on 07745392117 for tickets and further details.
As I type, the rain is lashing down outside on this August afternoon and I've given up contemplating camping at a deepest, darkest Ayrshire wedding this weekend. Sleeping in the car it is... Even though it's been a pretty rubbish summer (again), I've been very busy dotting about the country in a Highland Coovan, at a summer job working for Visit Scotland, enjoying the brief sunshines we have had. It's been great seeing more of my home country and has made me want see more. Buzz word of the year is "staycations" and I think we should all do more of that.
Otherwise the other things that have taken over my life recently was a wee exhibition I organised, with the help of my pal Marcus Hislop, called Bowie at Mohair. It started as an idea to do a tribute to my favourite pop star who sadly died this year, David Bowie. We had the most amazing preview night for a pop-up weekend exhibition above Mohair barbers in Glasgow on the 5th Aug. It really couldn't have gone better. We had live music, sold a bunch of artwork, made a over £2600 for two charities (Beatson Cancer Charity and New Rhythms for Glasgow) and everyone had a brilliant time. I still keep getting compliments on how good a night it was and how much everyone thought of the exhibition. AND when are we doing the next one? Um, maybe wait a bit until I'm fully recovered.
It was blooming hard work but I'm so glad I did it; for Bowie, for the charities, for myself and for my painting as I have had a bit of a hiatus on that front recently because of everything else I've been up to. And I even sold one of my pieces at Bowie at Mohair so I'm dead chuffed with that.
The exhibition is now showing in the 13th Note (Bowie at Mohair at 13th Note) until 28th Aug so if you haven't had a chance to see this brilliant exhibition, get yourselves along now!
I'll be hanging up my Coo wrangling reins at the end of the month to start a new college course. In September, I'm embarking on a two year HND in Model making for the Creative Industries to really hit this prop making thing head on. It'll take a bit of getting used to being a student again but I fully intend to take advantage of my student discount wherever I go! So, be prepared for more model making nonsense from now on.
Ooft, its been a busy last 6 months! Between doing the day job (booooo!), prop making, scenery building, zombie movie set dressing, course preparing, mural painting and exhibition organising I don't know quite how I'm still alive. It's all a blast really and wouldn't want it any other way.
Yes, so we got the 4 murals finished at the Princes Royal Maternity Transitional Care Unit. All the staff, patients and visitors thought it was all brilliant which was exactly what we had hoped for. So chuffed to be a part of it and to make a little difference in people's lives, especially when they are going through a stressful time. These rooms are designated for use by parents and the siblings of premature babies who are on the last stop before home. They used to be your regular sterile looking hospital rooms but thanks to Cheryl at Team Lewis and artist Karen Bonella, together with Rebecca Scott, Linzi Fergusson and Annmarie Devlin, we made them just the little bit cosier. Glad to be a part of the project.
Next up is all my set building, prop making and light installing. Sure been busy but I've help out on making a puppet show, made Voodoo skull headdress for a trumpet player, a glittering snake for a sousaphone, a 6m high cardboard clock tower, some fish fins and soon to make giant beard for Mohair the Barbers. Phew! Exciting times. Long may they continue!
And you'll be finally up to date with this ridiculous idea I had to put on an art and music extravaganza in tribute to my favourite rock star after he died earlier this year, David Bowie.
A long time ago I was mesmerised by the ethereal creature I saw on the big screen on my 11th birthday. It turned out to be Mr David Bowie playing Jareth, the Goblin King, in the best film ever (yes, it is, shut up), Jim Henson's Labyrinth Movie. That film has a lot to answer for but it mostly started my big love for the Starman and when I realised that David Bowie was a rock star too, after hearing Ziggy Stardust on the radio, I was hooked. His death to me, and to many others, was understandably an incredibly sad day.
On that day, I decided I wanted to do something to celebrate the one constant in my life. So up came the idea of getting my artist friends to make Bowie Art and for my music friends to make Bowie Music. Together with my fellow artist and friend, Marcus Hislop (AKA The Notorious Gasoline Company) we set to work to make Bowie at Mohair a reality and after Tony at Mohair Barbers generously offered his upstairs as a venue, we knew this was really going to happen.
It's not only about the art and music though. I've got two charities involved, the Beatson Cancer Charity and local community music charity New Rhythms for Glasgow who both do amazing work of the people of Glasgow and beyond. 50% of all sales as well as donations and raffle proceeds, will go to the charities.
Preview night Friday 5th Aug, exhibition 5th-7th Aug
We have over a dozen artists showing their Bowie inspired work, 6 bands playing Bowie tunes, Bowie face painting and a raffle that will even have some Bowie inspired prizes. All in one night! The exhibition will run over the weekend and any unsold works will be hung at the nearby 13th Note for the rest of the month. It's going to a cracker of a night and a cracker of a show. So get your red shoes on and get dancing'!!!
You can get more details here on the FB event page.
Finally getting back in to a bit of painting and this time on a wall. Was invited to help do some mural painting last Saturday in the Transitional Care rooms at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital Postnatal ward by my friend Karen. The first of four rooms to get transformed into lovely colourful, peaceful places was completed last Saturday with a theme of Under the Sea, working with Karen Bones of Karen Bones Art, Rebecca Scott of Weirdfolk and Linzi Fergusson of Inked Canvas. We had great fun with Cheryl and Tyler from Team Lewis who organised things for us to get started and gave a hand too. Team Lewis is a foundation created to help and give support to siblings of sick kids. We're going to continue with other fun themes for the other rooms, the next room is happening tomorrow, can't wait.
Jennifer Kilgour is an artist and maker specialising in model making, sculpture, painting and drawing.
She also loves making other things like wee animations (trained in that and everything), small coffee tables (singular) and walking the family dog in the woods.