Part of the creative process involves an almost involuntary compulsion to document and record the things that you find interesting. A long term interest of mine in the natural world and how it exists along side, under threat and sometimes in domination within our urban environment. There is a point in the year whereby the summers sun mixed with inevitable rainfall of the British summertime result in an explosion of green. Paths walked regularly throughout much of the year become impassable and views of landscapes blocked from sight.
A drawing to remember a point in time and space. What triggers memories of certain places and how often do we recognise them for what they are? This work is a continued investigation of memory through drawing.
I’m not sure what interests me more, seeking the familiarity in the unknown or the excavation of the unknown in the already familiar. Part of an ongoing current project, interconnected with a few other sideline projects this is a video sketchbook exploring a small area of woodland local to where I live. Sound is key in this collection of frames, an altered dimension of viewing to invite you into a new version of reality. Haunting cries and echoes of possibly familiar sounds creating a ghosted portrait of a landscape. Like a voice not fitting the face.
Well today is the last day of the year that was 2016. Aside from some of the more ‘memorable although we’d like to forget’ global events that have befallen upon our worlds this year I would like to take a step back and enjoy a few things that have made 2016 an inspiring place to be.
In February of this year I had the pleasure of taking part in the Brighton University european study trip to Berlin. We took students to a number of studio visits across the city, seeing museums and galleries and a visit to Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial site on a day so bitterly cold that I could legitimately wear my balaclava (incidentally bought in the desert during a previous residency). Both Stewart Easton and myself were not prepared for just how much Berlin inspired and fuelled our work following our experience there. A city that honours the scars of its past but celebrates creativity through self expression and a ‘joie de vivre’ I have not experienced anywhere else. Berlin I salute you!
For nearly two months of the summer Stewart Easton and I took part in the Silver City artist residency program in Nevada. During our time there we each had a solo exhibition of our work, we ran workshops for the good folk of Silver City looking at ‘drawing and identity’ and ‘Stitching our history’. We journeyed across the desert to Idaho, saw a ten thousand year old canyon carved by a flood at the end of the last ice age, explored an undergroundice cave in the middle of the searing heat of the desert, rafted down a river, saw bald eagles and lived in a geodesic dome, to mention but a few highlights. And above all, we got to spend time with some amazing people in a breathtaking landscape.
During the whole of this year I have continued teaching at Brighton University and as a freelance Illustrator this has been a wonderful environment to step into. Being in the company of the level 4 degree students has forced me to introspect into my own practice, to re-examine my own working methods and allowed me to return to play within my own personal development. Watching people start their creative journeys is a joyful thing to behold.
Now looking ahead to 2017 I have new projects for the new year: I have recently been playing around with a few research projects one of which is incorporating art & exercise. The ’Art Run’ project is still in its embryonic stage with just a handful of sessions completed but some of the initial aims are:
- To look at how we ‘see’ our everyday environment
- To increase physical & emotional wellbeing through exercise and creativity
- Strengthen observational drawing skills though repetition of experience
So on reflection 2016 has taught me that it is easy to look at the world with wide open eyes when you visit somewhere new and exotic but also reminded me to pay close attention to the world I am already familiar with. When you set off on a new adventure to distant places you gasp at the sight of mountains or marvel at a dust devil spiralling into the sky but how do you look at your everyday environment with the same level of wonder? This is what I have planned for 2017.
The exhibition is officially open but only on for a few days. If you are in the 'Shoreditch' area this coming weekend (12-13th November 2016) then head on over to Outline Editions at Lo & Behold, 2B Swanfield Street, London E2 7DS.
'Sketchbooks, drawing and thinking' is an exhibition of drawings and collages from the perspective of the past and visions of possible future events. This collection work brings sense of a time and a place but in the existence of memory only, not now but then, exactly then in that precise moment in time. A view of an existence from a very specific point in space and time. I have examined the process of my ability to recall moments of past experience to bring a sense of a new space and time.
The exhibition will run from the 10th-13th November 2016 at OUTLINE EDITIONS, 2B Swanfield Street, London, E2 7DS. Private View 6-9pm Thursday 10th November 2016.
After a two day journey across an ever changing landscape we arrive in Stanley, Idaho, population 64… yes really! We pick up supplies and head into the tree line at the foot of the Sawtooth mountains. A left down a few miles of dirt road, then a further ten minutes of zig zagging deeper into the forest and spying little log cabins through the trees along the way. Engine stops and here we are, our home for the week.
On the road again we pass some interesting signage pointing towards some caves and a museum… well, a museum of sorts… just about the most creepy place I have ever been in to be honest. The building itself was interestingly macabre and remained so right up until the smell of the formaldehyde became quite overwhelming. The collection of rather perplexed looking stuffed animals mixed with various artefacts from around the world was topped off by the dead animals on the floor (not part of the display I might add)… At the point the enormous rat ran passed my sandalled feet I had to step outside. It’s no criticism on the place, the atmosphere was holistic and I know plenty of folk who would find it fascinating, in fact it is a bit like the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford... but a bit more... real!
We continued into the caves, you are handed a gas lamp and pointed in the direction of some steps that lead to a hole in the ground. Walking from the 90 degree dry desert heat a few feet into ice cold dampness of the caves is breathtaking… literally. The geology of this landscape is laying down some seriously good inspiration for my next set of drawings… so much to see still…
Right in the middle of our time in the desert we heard our names being called in the distance by a place called Stanley. There was over 400 miles of desert between us and the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, some pretty unforgiving landscape at that. Life in this world is hard, dry and seriously hot but we keep driving. 300 miles eastward on highway 80, we would end up in New York if we carried on (for about three days), but we turn off and head north, still in the parched desert but finding a few little gems along the way, waterfalls and ice caves straight from the Land of the Lost.
We have a pit stop in a place called ‘Twin Falls’ home of the Shoshone Falls, labelled as the Niagara Falls of the West but standing a full 46 feet taller than it’s more famous relative. The falls were created about 14,000 years ago by a catastrophic flood when the pluvial Lake Bonneville burst it’s banks towards the end of the Pleistocene ice age. Most of the Great Basin overflowed and ran into the Snake River. The flood waters crashed through the landscape with a 300 ft wave and lasted for over a year, the lake at Salt Lake City is all that is left of the original huge expanse of water.
We arrived at our geodesic dome in Silver City today and we are just totally blown away with its charm and beauty. It is now time to start working on our respective projects and prepare for our workshops. All set up and ready for work with the temperature already past 90 degrees outside and it is not yet noon. Stories of wild cats and rattlesnakes are gonna keep me on the path for a while… until my curiosity gets the better of me. But for now I’m gonna keep out of the high desert sun and work, work, work….
I have spent the whole day in my element setting up my exhibition space at the University of Nevada, Reno. I have brought with me the drawings I have been working on over the past year or so. It’s rare for me to get the opportunity to take a step back and look at my work in a larger space and see it within a different context which has prompted to start of a new body of work using past drawings and experience and using collage to explore the communication of the process of thinking and responding to a new environment. The sketchbook carries important significance in the process of discovery and the collage, an art form in its own right, is used here as a platform to playfully show the process of thought and the results of the act of thinking.
The main selection of illustrations is part of a larger body of work that looks at memory and thought through the act of drawing. An exercise into understanding information we can’t quantify by experience and drawing upon the memories of the things we can. Flashes of the memories of a journey or the destination of a distant world mixed with the interpretation of time and space and how we move through our own plane of existence.
Having been up for 24 hours straight yesterday I managed a fairly good nights sleep.. well by good I mean I only waking up a few times in the night and being totally wide away a 3:30 am. After recording twenty minutes of the early morning soundscape perched in the corner of the window I decided to just get up at about 5:45 in the end. It’s not such an unreasonable time, if it is good enough for the sun then it is good enough for me (and also the rooster… apparently).
I am currently sitting on the ‘Pirate ship’ porch in the bright morning sunshine of Reno listening to the cacophony of garden sprinklers rain down the only source of water these lush landscaped garden paradises of Slide Mountain will likely see, at least for the coming months anyway. There are also the other exotic and unfamiliar curious cackles and warbles of the various creatures I am yet to identify mixed in with a few comforting sounds of the familiar, gentle dove cooing, the rummaging of busy chickens looking for their first morning feed and the occasional croaking frog. From this vantage point I also get the view of the occasional airplane taking off and landing so the sounds of the racing engines echoes right the way through the basin.
Beyond the tidy picket fenced meadows with Llamas and neighing horses and pristine wooden barns with the hens enjoying the morning activity and the ducks in the ponds with the dog barking. After the trees and the fields that roll gently down hill you have the distant rumble of Reno and the twinkle of the glass buildings that glimmer in the early morning sunshine. Casinos and shopping malls, galleries, superstores and every kind of ‘drive-thru’ you can imagine. Beyond this the landscape becomes wild again, the small hills undulate into bigger hills which over lap onto larger hills which become the rugged mountains of the Sierras.
This seems the most enjoyable way to ease yourself into six weeks in the desert, aside from the heat of the sun that scorches even at 6am this feels lush and green and not much like a desert at all… Yet…
A journal of a sequence of events occurring over a period of time and location in space.
Internal Wilderness is part of an ongoing project looking at ‘landscape and memory’ - our relationship with the environment, effects we have on the world and space around us and in turn it’s profound affect on our own memory and emotions.
Each of these landscapes is a starting point to a much bigger adventure that strives to answer the question of what lays beyond the horizon.
Within the space on each sheet of paper a world can be created either from a distant memory of a childhood holiday or from the desire to see parts of the world that for now are only dreamed about.
Available to BUY HERE
As I was clearing my desk for a days work I was about to put away the lino inks I recently ordered... and before I knew it I was into a 4 colour print run... Sometimes you just can't help but procrastinate...
Since our Study Trip to Berlin with the Brighton University Illustration and Graphic Design students, both myself and Stewart have been refreshed and inspired to create a new body of work. So over the Easter Weekend I took all the inspiration from Berlin and my ongoing project research and spent a few days doing 'Sketchbook Work' for the first time in a LONG TIME.
First time I have seen this in the flesh and its looking rather splendid. I worked on this for most of the Autumn last year and at one stage it felt like I was at the foot of a mountain I had to climb... but eventually after many weekly 'to do' lists and sticky bits of tape on my walls I got to the other side.
Currently available in Germany.
Nordische Wildnis by Claire Scully, Published by Grafe und Unzer, Germany.
Last year I worked on art therapy adult colouring in books for the first time. The Menagerie was the first to be published by Michael 'O' Mara books. It's been a real journey for me, learning how to make the drawing of my bejewelled series more streamlined. This is the first series I have employed digital drawing from the start.
In the Summer of 2015 we heard three sparrow hawks in the thick woods of Hampstead Heath. Not easy to spot but we kept following the calls. deeper and deeper into the leaves and the branches.
Over the last year I have been working on a series of drawings based on the idea that drawing can be used as vehicle to take both the artist and the viewer on a journey through time and space. Drawing places from memory and also as I imagine them to be I gave myself the task of transferring my internal world onto paper. This 145cm wide landscape was created after I had completed 70+ A6 postcard sized drawings of the 'internal wilderness' series (the self imagined places I would like to visit). I have always been interested in the space beyond the image, often wondering how the world created would look like as you move your eyes off the edge of the paper. So, keeping the scale of the drawing by using the same sized 0.5 rotring rapidograph I gave myself an expanse of paper (relative to the A6 that I had grown accustomed) This allowed me to create a 360 degree view of this imagined wilderness.