It has been a long time since I last wrote on this blog…

So to give you a little update, here is what I have been up to since.

After graduating in 2012, I moved back to Edinburgh to settle in and begin to build my artistic practice within my home city.

This was a great experience as I got to work with the Collective Gallery for a short period and also with the Scottish Storytelling Centre doing a Venue & festival Management Internship.

During this time, my work was exhibition at the RSA New Contemporaries 2013 exhibition and then later shown at Resident’ 13 to present the outcome of my research during the John Kinross Scholarship.

At the end of the year (after much saving) I finally did what I have always wished to do and that was to travel to South America.

This was organised as a self-directed trip, in which I visited a series of ancient architectural sites and ritual spaces throughout Peru, Bolivia, Chile & Easter Island (Rapa Nui). I recorded in all these spaces and built a sonic archive of the journey.

Whilst I was away, I found out that I had been awarded a Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship to study my Master’s in Sound Art at the London College of Communication, and this is where I am now..

I am currently living in London, once more returning to the world of full-time education and continuing to explore my sound arts practice…

If you wish to see what I’m up to now then please follow this page:

http://soundartsjourney2014.wordpress.com/

 

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After returning from the wonderful Firenze, I am now here living in Edinburgh and working as Volunteer Projects Assistant at Collective. It has been a busy first month and lots of organising in preparation for the John Kinross Scholarship feedback session and also for the up and coming New Contemporaries Show in April. 

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Today marks my first month here at Collective. The melancholic sound of Andy Holden’s work travels through the gallery space invisibly, evoking an immediate sense of emotion. I have really enjoyed volunteering here, it has been a wonderful experience so far…

My first day involved doing a lot of painting, getting into overalls and experiencing the gallery as a blank canvas. Then we had the opening, which involved a lot of whisky and then the lecture on nests and now the it is the show. I spend every morning dusting the plaster sculptures, like they are small organic life forms. Everyday, they change. They are wonderful objects and I feel that their process within the gallery has allowed them to become their own natural habitats. The landscape of the gallery is peaceful. It captivates you, and yet it is wonderful to be able to see the world outside pass through the large glass windows. Collective is a lovely, intimate space and I very much look forward to experiencing many more of its transformations as a gallery….

I have exiciting news! I have been awarded the John Kinross Scholarship to go and stay in Florence to do artistic research. This is a wonderful opportunity to return to Italy and explore a different culture and country. The scholarship is awarded to 10 Scottish artists each year to support and influence their creative practice.

I am planning to go and stay there from early September to early November. Once the festival is over and the streets of Edinburgh return to normality, I think it will present the perfect time to begin my own journey away from the city….Interestingly, Florence is Edinburgh’s twin city and has been since the 1960’s, so there is already  a link between these two spaces.

I still haven’t been able to go away since leaving art college, so this will be a great opportunity to fly away and be immersed in a completely different world for a while. As well as enjoying the Italian culture and sunshine, I will be also embarking on an artistic journey as the scholarship funds you to develop your creative practice. John Kinross himself travelled to the city in his early career and has since named it one of the most beautiful and influenrial cities for its trmemdous art and architecture. It was because of this experience that the scholarhsip exisits to give this opporunity to other emerging artists. This is going to be a really excitng journey and a great oportunity to unravel and start making new work and research after my very full on final year and degree show.

I have already had a few ideas of what I would like to do with my time out there, which is continuing to visit sacred and historic monuments around Italy. Whilst there, I want to travel and visit their vast architecural creations, all their wonderful cathedrals and baptistarties. I am looking to push my artistic direction in my investiogations on human resonance and look more deeply at the identity of these buildings in relation to the people who made them and who have existed inside and through them. I believe that the faith of the people who built them and the rituals which have taken place inside the spaces hold a great resonance in themselves. This time, I would like to focus more on human rituals in relation to the human body and how we relate this to architecture and space. This will be the beginnings to my artistic journey in Florence…

I have set up a blog especially to document this process and journey, so if you wish to follow it then please look on this site:

http://sylvialawflorence.wordpress.com/

 

I have finally moved back to Edinburgh. After 3 years living in Dundee, I have now returned to my home city…

Since moving back, I have been enjoying a break from the world of work and thought. It has been a very busy year and I think it is imprtant to give onself a little break and breathing space, and to allow ones creativity to grow again. I have hardly had a moment of stillness since the degree show. Straitafterwards I made a piece for the festival Performing Worlds, which was a wonderful event! (Here is a link to the blog if you wish to see what we got up to…)

http://performingworlds.wordpress.com/

And then after the festival finished, the following week I graduated, marking the end of my journey as an art student. And then finally I moved my life back to Edinburgh. Since being back I have indulged in nothingness… It has been wonderful to not need to do anything and to immerse myself in time for relaxation. It has also been a great time to reflect on my journey through art college, and now that it has come to an end to look at where I would like my artistic career to go…

I have a few projects lined up to look forward to and many things I want to do so I think this next year looks like it will be very exciting in terms of what shall be revealed and what will come out of it…In many ways I am finding this time in my life like a new beginning, a starting point to everything ahead and to being my own body in the world and seeing what comes of my ventures…

This month I enjoyed the very last moments of my student life by finally graduating. On Tuesday 19th of June at 10am we had our graduation ceremony at the Caird Hall. After 3 years of studying hard and shaping my practice, I have now finally finished my honours degree in Time Based Art & Digital Film.

The graduation was a wonderful day to celebrate with all my peers how we have all grown since coming to art college and to share this very accomplished moment with everyone who has been part of the journey with me. We spent the entire eating and drinking and enjoying the sunshine! It was a beautiful sunny day and a wonderful endnote to my degree. It definitely felt like an important mile stone and high achievement to finish this stage of my life. I am looking forward to the future and all the things that will come from this. It will be very exciting to see what this next year brings and all the opportunities and experiences awaiting to happen. This has been a very fruitful journey and I can’t wait to see what the future holds…

The final space I went to investigate was the Tay Bridge at the waterfront. The Tay is a fundamental body within Dundee, giving the city its birth place and source of life. The Tay has always interested me as a human space as it holds and resonates a great part of Dundee’s history and reveals how the city has progressed throughout time.

The Tay river holds two bridges: the Railway Bridge and the Road Bridge. Both these structures connect Dundee to its surrounding landscapes and have enabled its citizens to travel and venture out and into the city. As structures in themselves, the bridges are incredible bodies. They project themselves from the land and connect two spaces together, creating a relationship between human spaces.

As part of the festival, my fellow friend and artist, Ruth Aitken took us to the waterfront to experience a ritual walk. There we were asked to inhabit a disused space and bring it to life by walking around it and activating it with our human presence. It was when being immersed in the space that I realised how much the Tay forms the city, and as you walk around it you can see how far the water bends around the city, marking the very outlines of it.

At the waterfront there are a lot of different public art works that link back to Dundee’s shipping and jute industry. Dundee used to be one of the biggest harbour’s in the world, and even though this is no longer the case, you still get a sense of this grand open space, which was once filled with ships and large structures. As part of these little visual references to the city’s past there is a sculpture called the Panmure passage, which was sculpted by artist Marion Smith. The sculpture is inspired by a boat hull and links back to Dundee’s shipping roots.The sculpture is made from 11 upright granite slabs, which echo the form of a boat by creating an almost skeleton-like structure.

When inhabiting the space, I felt very drawn to this structure and so decided to do a recording whilst lying inside it. I lay my body down the series of holes and sang inside it. It was an amazing feeling being held up by his very strong sculpture and resonating within another art work…

This happening marked the very last of my investigations of human spaces within Dundee. I thoroughly enjoyed this journey and meeting the city in a more intimate way, in which I got to meet and inhabt spaces that I had never gone to before. This also marked the end of my time living in Dundee and was a wonderful way to leave the city…

Wandering around the city centre, I stumbled across some more spaces that made me think of how we have inhabittted the city through time…

Dundee is a city were you can clearly see a change in its identity; there are constant traces of abandoned buildings, spaces out of use and that are shaping to be new places…the city has visually changed. I find it fascinating how disused structures can strongly remind us of how we existed inside them. Buildings in many ways are like human museums that link us back to all the generations before us. Architecture in itself is a human space and creation; it is a physical world in which we have based our lives around. Everywhere around us has been sculpted as human space, they shape us as much as we shape them and become the places we exist in everyday…

But human nature changes, as does a city…In Dundee you can feel walking through the streets this older city, like a ghost city amongst it, all the invisible layers, all the buildings that re no longer in use, resonate a moment that no longer exists. I find it very interesting learning about people through buildings and looking at what our relationships used to be to them, and what they are presently…

I have really enjoyed collecting all these different memories and experiences in the city. My explorations in Dundee have allowed meet to see the city in a completely different light, and that there are many invisible stories within a city, like hidden markings in the landscape and buildings, the structures around us resonate our history, and reveal our relationship to space and place.

“MEMORY IS TIME”.

The Wishart Arch is a monument situated in the Seagate, which is one of the oldest parts of Dundee. The Wishart Arch is a remaining part of the city wall and was an old gateway into the city, forming part of the East Port and Cowgate. The monument frames a part of Dundee’s history and past. Once a protected gateway into Dundee it was converted into a pedestal from which religious reformer George Wishart preached to plague victims in 1544. It now stands as a very ghostly structure, amongst the modern city of Dundee.

The Wishart arch reminds me of how the city used to encircle the land, and how we as its inhabitants lived inside it. It is now said to be the only remaining part of the original city walls and architecturally dates back to 1500’s. I must have walked passed the structure several times, but have never noticed it before due to its strange location. The arch is in the middle of the city, and yet is completely immersed and made invisible by its surrounding environment. I think it is a wonderful piece of architecture, which remains as a symbol of the past.

As an ancient monument, the Wishart Arch resonates a different time and place. The Wishart Arch presently stands beside a modern building, which extends itself out from the arch’s adjacent wall. I think it is very interesting to think of buildings as their own bodies, and so in this instance when two buildings  come together in such a close dialogue with another, their original identity changes, and they become a completely new body. I think  this is why I have perhaps never noticed the arch before, because it no longer stands as a structure by itself, it forms part of  this completely different identity that does not resonate a historical place at all. It is very strange how two buildings with such different presences can stand beside each other and exist in the same space, yet they can also work together to communicate and create a dialogue between the past and present of a city.

For my explorations on resonance within the structure, I sat inside the small encove of the arch and sang inside it. It was a really lovely experience as it allowed me to observe the world around me without being seen, as in that moment I was concealed by the arch.  Being inside the arch made me feel immersed within its walls, allowing my voice to travelled through the structure. I sat inside it for a while, watching the space around the structure; how people moved around and through it…It felt as though it wasn’t a place where people stopped, but more a space that was crossed and inhabited a moment rather than a long period of time. I got the feeling that this Arch has become invisible to everyone, it no longer is seen as a body at all, and because of this I enjoyed occupying it for that time period, and acknowledging it as its own structure.

After some time, I left the structure and wandered up and through the streets it led to, finding new spaces of old that resonate our past….

The following day, I went to visit some of the sacred architecture in Dundee’s city centre. It is incredible how many churches Dundee has presently, they run like a trail right through the city…

St Mary’s Church/The Steeple are said to be the oldest of these buildings in Dundee, dating back to 1190 when it was first constructed. It now stands as a completely different building, as the original structure was burnt by the English in 1303. It was then rebuilt, but again in 1547 the parish was targeted for being the largest church in Scotland, and the Steeple being the tallest Tower. Again it was rebuilt and again it was burnt in 1841.

Finally, in the 1870’s it was re-built by Sir George Gilbert Scott, who was commissioned by the local council to re model the church. The building takes the aesthetics of the Gothic Victorian Revival, which is physically very different from the Old Steeple that managed to survive from the 1400’s. This building is now what presently remains as St. Mary’s church, and is the only surviving structure from all its past decedents.

I find church’s very bizzarre spaces; they are public sanctuaries, yet there is so much political control over them, and especially as historic sites, they begin to close their doors and loose their purpose and identity. It is amazing how much importance we have given these buildings over the years, re building them over and over again….They are so present within every culture and city, and they remain sacred, even if religion has faded, the buildings themselves represent the people that built them, and as a beacons of hope, they remain as visual metaphors of our faith.

This is in itself creates a very resonant framework, standing infront of a building, that echoes all the structures that stood there before it, but also all the energy it has taken to re build them.  I am sure that their presence and human resonance still echoes through space now. I really like this church, it does for me symbolize the centre of Dundee. It is a very social hub space, there is always people sitting aroudn ti, and there has been a wonderful public art piece commissioned, which echos the ouline of the front of building on the ground.

I tried to enter the church, but it was closed, so I circled the space and found a little enclosure in one of the side walls, facing the Overgate. I stood there, taking in my surroundings and watching everyone move around the building. theere was a pigeon wandering around and a bin man working close by, so I definitely got the sense that this was a shard space. I sang very quietly and stood close to a tree. I felt very sheltered by the building and  protected. It then began to rain, so I decided to walk on into the city and follow it down to the Seagate…

As well as visiting the Balgrathno Stone Circle, on the way back into town I went to visit my second site; the Cox’s Stack. I chose this not for its historic presence, but more for its symbol to the city. The Cox’s Stack is the longest surviving industrial chimney in Scotland. It is 86 metres high and is a prominent feature in Dundee’s landscape. As a monument, the Cox’s Stack symbolises Dundee’s link to the jute industry. The chimney was owned by the Cox family who specialised in the production of linen and then followed onto jute in the early 1800’s. The stack is placed at the heart of the Camperdown Works, which at the time was the largest jute factory in the world.

Now, the large structure stands like ghost tower…It is disused, unoccupied and impossible to access. I walked around it for an hour, trying to get to it, but there were fences and buildings placed around it like a fort. It is this enormous and predominant vertical structure, hidden within a sea of houses and shopping markets. You can’t miss it, and yet you can’t get to it. Again a very visible, yet invisible place…

The area now feels very changed and run down. Beside the Stack is a shut down commerce space and large housing estate. In my attempts to try and access the stack, I walked through the local housing estate, where all the worker’s of the factory would have lived. It did feel like entering a different time zone, yet this time it was close to the late 70’s/ early 8o’s. Lochee is a bit like a mining town, it definitely has a working class presence and resonates a place of work and labour. The small brick houses all lined up side by side echo a close nit community, where the boundaries of work and life merged.

I tried to get as close to the Cox’s Stack as I could, which was under a bridge. I sang underneath it, using the arched body of the bridge to allow my voice to travel in the space. At the end of the bridge, there was a park were the local children were playing football, and it was nice hearing them as I sang. I stood there for a while contemplating what it would be like to live in that area and walked slowly towards the main road, looking into all the windows and abandoned buildings as I walked passed them…

This marked my last exploration of human space that day.