Near the end of last year I received a set of questions to consider in relation to my paintings, the subject of ‘abstraction’ and the exhibition, Drawn Away Together: 11 Scottish Artists on Abstraction soon to open at the Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh: “What is it that you think you do when you’re making your art?” and, “Is abstraction part of the process of making the work or something in the form of the work itself? How do you understand the term?”
This is how I replied: I listen, or perhaps more accurately, eavesdrop on my psychic traffic, on my fragmentary and absentminded seeing; on the light, the half-light and on the darkness; on memory; on my subject matter: views through windows; landscapes; farmland; weather; remembered conversations and emotions of all kinds … Painting (the abstraction – drawn away) from these things – of things seen, events, memory – involves transience. I was once somewhere, somewhen, and I have made an image from it – not of it – from life. A motif moves into memory when the eye leaves it – the shadow-play of a sheet drying over a lawn; snow on a bird table; stacked hay bales; pools of floodwater drawing blue sky into a field … and painted marks (and words, sentences) move into memory as the eye returns to the motif. But this drawing away – in time – is what must happen, and is only part of what I do. Each painting is also a return, expressed through fragments and instances, an imagining towards the motif, drawing closer to memory, less a retreat from it. (One simply cannot remember. One must remember something, otherwise the picture would be facile). Memory comes with the making of the painting – the abstract painting – not with its viewing. And if during this making I am imagining towards the viewer, viewers are after the event – with the now and the elsewhere of their viewing.
The exhibition runs from Saturday 16th March until the 4th of May at the Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh and includes works by Rachel Barron, Miranda Blennerhasset, Paul Keir, Lorna McIntyre, Andrew Mackenzie, Jo Milne, Neil Nodzak, Malcolm O’Connell, Eric Schumacher and Alan Shipway (firstname.lastname@example.org / www.facebook.com/talbotricegallery) A catalogue – documenting the work in the show, and with an essay by James Clegg – will be launched on the 17th April and available from the gallery thereafter.
On a related matter, Gutter, issue 8 (due for release … there’s a link to this journal for new Scottish writing in the ‘blogroll’) will publish my poem, The Light Is Soft This Morning As I Write You This.