Rachel and Residency in Peru

Rachel Burney set out on her travels in January 2018 to begin a month long residency in Peru where she is now exhibiting her artwork and making arts and crafts with disabled children. 

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Rachel's  LLama story

In early March 2017 Rachel a local artist and participant of Space Artworks came into the gallery in Morningside for a chat. We talked about working together on a new art project. I suggested that we could involve Kiran's Trust who could perhaps offer some financial support and guidance. Because of Rachel's love of South America and in particular LLamas she decided to create a family of Llama sculptures from reclaimed and recyled materials. Kiran's Trust enthusiastic offered a grant to support a series of workshops which began in late march. Rachel and I met every Friday to construct the series of sculptures.  Space Artworks has previously participated in the Scottish  Arts and mental Health Film Festival I suggested to Rachel that she could enter her completed artwork into the large October exhibition in Summerhall which would fit in with the 2017 theme, RECLAIM. Rachel went ahead and applied, and in October after spending 6 months work, her amazing sculptures were complete. She exhibited all six LLama family members in the exhibition and to great success. She sold 2 of the pieces and they attracted a lot of attention and positive comments. Rachel publicised the exhibition through social media. Abel Torres a contact of Rachel's living and working in Peru immediately got in contact with her. Impressed by her work he immediately offered her a month long residency in a the centre Cuzco, Peru he runs which supports children with disabilities to access physiotherapy and creative activities. Rachel then organised all travel arrangements. She experienced an a few setbacks however everything came together and she set off on 17th January. When the residency comes to and end she will travel on to Bolivia to carry out further research for future project and will returning in March.  Well done Rachel. (See images below)

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Llamas in progress

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Llama on display at Summerhall  Exhibition in October 2017 

SMHAFF 2016: MICHAEL DAWSON

2016 is the second year Space Artworks has taken part in the Out of Sigh Out of Mind exhibition series, held in various venues across Edinburgh, and part of the wider annual Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. Our exhibition this year 'Space and Time' features work from Edina Donald, Michael Boyd, Rosy Long and The Hive in the upstairs gallery, with Michael Dawson's pieces in the lower gallery - the first time we have shown his work. Looking at Dawson's art, one can be overwhelmed by the intricate layering of meaning and imagery. Letting the allusions and unconscious connections wash over you is part of the enjoyment of such art, but it can also be intriguing to delve into some of the processes and intention behind these effects. Here we share some of what Michael has to say about his work.

An expressionist artist, who produces vibrant multilayered works in a variety of mediums, Michael Dawson's work comes from a place of what could be called considered spontaneity. His aim to convey a 'universal experience' through his own life, that is his personal emotional responses to what he sees and hears around him, requires loose planning, if any. Rather than working with a 'set agenda, theme or subject matter', his preference is to allow his experiences of life to make their way on to the canvas as the mood takes him, more a 'stream of consciousness'  than predetermined act of creation.

'I mostly just start with a mark, word/phrase (https://twitter.com/busytinsnips) or small drawing/illustration and see where it takes me.

I just filter things from my life – memories, experiences from an internal and external world that I inhabit. There is often no linear or narrative approach, (I am a big image blender!), but a cascade of colour, image and word.

I am a simple conduit! I like the beginning of Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood – “I am a camera with its shutter open"

Even when the finished work is quite literal, the next will be in stark contrast.'

Yet, simultaneously, to make a piece 'right' consideration is required. Michael states that:

'The works are often layered over time, it’s a process of adding and subtracting – I sometimes lay a colour/image or phrase down and then cover it or partially conceal it.

I can return to add or subtract sometimes years after I thought the piece was finished. Mostly they all evolve over time, [only] a few are done rapidly.'

By working on multiple pieces at once, returning to them with new thoughts and images over a period of months or years, a balance of spontaneity and consideration is thus struck.

'I often work on at least 4 or 5 simultaneously. These can vary in size from A6 to one-meter square and often larger. As my work is usually very varied so this way of working is good because I can flip from theme to idea as different works evolve and morph.

I also carry a small ideas/sketchbook with me to jot down raw feelings, ideas and words that find a home on paper and canvas.'

This technique of spontaneous 'image blending' and considered addition and subtraction over time helps explain the vibrancy and balance of Michael's work. Going behind the scenes a little more, we were curious to hear more about the physical side of creation, and asked about the materials he most liked to use:

'I absolutely love the basic, low tech’ Chinagraph pencil. The texture it creates on paper is simply ravishing!

It is also known as a grease pencil and is a writing implement made of hardened coloured wax.

It is useful for marking on hard, glossy non-porous surfaces such as porcelain, glass, rock, polished stone, plastic, ceramics and other glazed, lacquered or polished surfaces, as well as the glossy paper that is used for photographic printing, x-rays, and for marking edits on analogue audio tape and film.

It is also used to label theatrical lighting gels. It is often used as a construction or handyman's marking tool as it rarely scratches the surface it is used on. It may be used to mark a wet surface.  Due to its ability to write on glass, it is often used in chemistry labs to mark glassware.

Its versatility is astonishing – every home should have one!

I also love Liquitex Heavy Body Acryl