July has been all about preparation for the Craft Scotland Summer Show. I’ve submitted 40 pieces for the show which makes it one of the biggest I’ve done so far. It’s been great to spend some really dedicated time in the studio – and there have certainly been no sunny days to distract me! My bench is right up at the towing end of the caravan – so I’ve a 2 meter picture window to get the best view of all the driving rain. On the plus side, I’ve had all of this new work professionally photographed by Huma Barrie so watch out for some long overdue, in focus shots of my work!
I shan’t complain to bitterly about the weather however as I’m off on a R&D adventure next month to Nevada & California! I’m traveling to the US to attend and participate in the Burning Man festival as an individual artist and part of an art collective. Burning Man is an annual week-long festival that has been held in the Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada for the last 25 years, now drawing in 70K participants from all over the globe. It is described as, ‘an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.’
My primary purpose in attending Burning Man is to gather information in the form of direct experience, sketches, photographs and interviews that will inform my next body of studio work. As the natural environment, material culture and consumption have been the focus that underpins all of my studio work I’m hoping to progress my practice by experiencing an environment that is unique and vastly different to any I have experienced. The Black Rock Desert is a flat, prehistoric lakebed, composed of a hardpan alkali, ringed by majestic mountains. Daytime temperatures routinely exceed 40 degrees, dropping to zero during the night, and the area can be subject to sudden bouts of fierce, unpredictable weather. Human ornamentation (even when man’s very survival is uncertain) has existed from the time of prehistoric man and the high importance placed on adornment at the Burning Man festival brings this strange duality into an almost absurd Technicolor focus.
As commerce is strictly forbidden within the festival, part of my research will involve trying to sustain my time at Burning Man through the making and exchanging of jewellery. I have also made initial contact with Karen Christian, jeweller and author of the book ‘Jewelry of the Playa’, a book about the culture of gifting jewellery at the Burning Man festival. We’ve agreed to meet at the festival with the idea that I will discuss a little bit about her book and her work here in a future blog!
Lastly, don’t forget to pop by the Craft Scotland Summer Show if you are in Edinburgh during August (7th to 30th). The exhibition space is above the White Stuff shop on George Street and part of the Edinburgh International Festival. Happily I’ve also just found out that I’ve been chosen to take part in ‘Selected’ at the Dovecot Studios in November. I loved the show last year and I’m thrilled to be taking part this year.