Timespan's Artist in Residence programme is supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Eurpoean Community Highland Leader 2007-2013 Programme

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Burn’s Night, Musical Spray Paint, Bed Rock, Fault Lines and Pebbles on the Beach

26 January No pictures yet

Ok - I've completely lost track of time now - so much keeps happening here.

On Saturday 22 after a day spent on front of the computer I was ready to spend the evening at the Timespan Burn’s Supper , organised and delivered by the fundraising committee aided by volunteers. A very good night was had by all, about 60 guests came along – there were many smiling faces and much laughter. A bowl of broth to start and then the celebrations were introduced by Jean Sargent when Jamie Kelly (extremely smart in his kilt) piped in the haggis and eating began. The haggis was announced to be eminently tasty – it was accompanied by generous helpings of tatties and neeps and lined the stomach nicely - ready for the trifle to follow. The trifles were made by the organisers and so delicious I had to have spoonfuls from at least five of them – some were alcoholic and some were not but they were all fantastic. After dinner speeches were made by Jacquie Aitken (Timespan’s Archivist) and Christine Cowie (Heritage) – both received hearty applause. Amongst other excellent entertainments Lisa Macdonald from Timespan sang and dancing was by the Kerry Findlay Highland Dancers, four young women who gave an original take on the familiar form. I was impressed by their performance in such a small space surrounded on all sides by the audience. Gerry Wood and Penny Woodley kept the kitchen going and the tables waited/weighted with food. Caroline Kelly kept the guests well watered with various beverages and Lorna Jappy persuaded people to buy tickets for the raffle which made a substantial contribution to the funds raised. (Approximately £1000!!). The raffle took place after a very popular game which involved seeing who could roll a pound coin nearest to a bottle of Clynelish Whisky (from Brora). The man who won was very very happy.

On Sunday and Monday I reflected that sometimes I spend as much time with my head down looking at the ground beneath my feet as the sky or the sea or the river. Down on the shore towards Portgower the small stones can look like sweeties, humbugs, and the like. While walking I was thinking about the Earth - how it spins and we do not really notice, how it constantly shifts beneath us and we hardly notice – unless there is an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. Here at Helmsdale an ancient fault line can be seen in places, the Helmsdale Fault means that one part of the Earth's crust slid under another part - how suddenly did it occur? Was it imperceptible or did it heave and crash? My favourite reading at the moment is The Excursion Guide to the Geology of East Sutherland and Caithness (eds N.H. Trewin and A. Hurst) which I found in the archive. It has detailed descriptions of the rocks etc between Golspie and Ousdale with a lot about Helmsdale. I understand hardly anything in the book at all, it is a poetical foreign language with classifications of these stones I see beneath my feet. It has no pictures so I can’t match what I see with what is described. Therefore the pictures of the rocks, stones and pebbles for this blog must wait, the photographs I have taken must be developed and printed. Then when I post them people can tell me what they are – instead of me describing them as mottled pinky orange or striped grey with an oblong of darkness in the centre.

Remember to come and see Dufi’s exhibition Teenage Kicks while it's on at Timespan, – and on Monday 24th Jan there was an excellent Musical Response Workshop where we all had to bring our favourite LP’s with our favourite tracks and play them on an old stereo in the gallery space. I like this exhibition, Dufi (Al MacInnes and Fin Macrae) call themselves Graffiti Artists and here I see more evidence of how Graffiti Art is taken more seriously at this time than it has been for a while. The work is highly disciplined and well- thought out. Each piece functions by itself and they all work together as an installation. As you enter - on the left wall behind you there is a shelf with cans neatly ordered on top. The wall under the shelf has narrow stripes of multi-coloured paint sliding down towards the floor and a chameleon is concealed within them – I had to be shown it! Call myself an artist or what??? On the long left wall a selection of LPs are mounted – some you can take down and play on the stereo and some cannot be played because they are now works of art. On the back wall are prints of images stimulated by the lyrics from the albums that Dufi selected from their own list of about 500. On the right hand wall behind you as you enter is a stencil work which seems to hover above the gallery wall, pale blue and as fragile looking as a robin’s egg. The stereo system in the centre is placed on a cabinet which itself is placed on a square of typical living room carpet from around the 70’s. There is an armchair to sit in and headphones to listen with.

The workshop was friendly and welcoming – the two artists invited us to eat sweeties that reminded us of our childhoods, fruit salad chews and liquorice blackjacks, cola cubes and jelly gums, Tunnocks tea cakes, caramel bars and snowballs, Kool-aid from Canada and Creamola which had to be added to water and then fizzed. That reminded me of Spacedust and Flying Saucers. We then sat down and made our art works on paper embossed with the shape of a 7”single. Excellent fun was had by all – even those who insisted they could not do art demonstrated that they could.

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