Friday, October 29, 2010

Artists in Residence Director: Andy Fairgrieve

It's been a little over two weeks since my return from Scotland. I still know that the debriefing in my head will continue but as a post script I'd like to tell you a little about our director Andy Fairgrieve.

Andy was basically the first and last person I saw in Scotland, he picked me up on the first day and when I was putting my bags in the car I asked him if I should pull out my sunglasses, to which he retorted, "that's wishful thinking." That should have been a hint, not only of the lovely weather in the Highlands but about this man's sense of humor. 

Andy's tutelage of the Scottish dialect started immediately with my incorrect pronunciation of the neighboring town Craigellachie... Craig-e-lacky? Last year's residents called it craig's jelly, but eventually i got it. Edinburgh took a bit longer! Additionally he taught me all of my favorite phrases over the four months I was there (the following is a meager list of all the greats)...

Tah = thanks
Sort/sorted = work it out, arrange things, line things up
Wee = little, small
Just now = right now, as in i'll come over just now
Can't be arsed = can't be bothered
Fuck all = used as a wonderful answer to the question what did you do today?

It would be impossible to list all of Andy's duties both for the residency program and basically all that he did all over the distillery grounds. In addition to hauling all 8 of us to and fro quite a bit, he arranged basically every shoot I did this summer. He made introductions to the people at every place on the distillery where I would later photograph. He outfitted me in my PPE (personal protection equipment) gear of steel toed work boots, hi viz vest, ear plugs and eye protection. He helped me set up scaffolding, run power lines all over the place, arrange a lorry driver to haul me 5 hours in a truck, deliver packages to my cottage and call about work schedules so I could capture the proper action. He was always available when I called him on the phone. 

When it came time to mount the three gallery shows that took place over the residency, he was a one man gallerist, installer, curator and caterer, only to take it down every 3 weeks and do it again. And there were also seven other artists all needing Andy to sort out there needs everyday.

From that first morning in the car from the airport, Andy immediately said a magic word... landscape. We would often discuss the areas around the Highlands that inform so much of the history of the region, the character of the people, the traditions and the practices that are the modern day product of the place.  He showed me the most magical place, The Cabrach! And from the Picts to the Scots to Celtic history, we talked about mythology, fairies, legends and then just the best nature or science program on TV. At this time of year I'm sure we would have a great discussion of American Halloween and its roots in the ancient tradition of Samhain.

Then there was the after work Andy who would join us for drinks, dinners and even a little band practice with my neighbor Damian.  The Andy with his pony Katrina. And of course, the metal genius of Andy.
The mix CD he sent home with me of bagpipe, folk and pirate metal is one of a kind, and just the other day he sent me a link to Knights of Templar metal!

As he picked me up at 5 AM for the return trip to the airport, it was dark the whole drive to the airport. After helping me repack my overweight bags at the ticket counter, there was no quick way to say goodbye after so much time and work together and there can never be a way to truly thank him for everything. 

So instead a cheer to Andy and I look forward to seeing you in NYC this spring!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Artist in Residence: Dan Halter

And then there was one. Dan was my best friend at camp this summer. He's still in Scotland until November 1st where today they had a snowstorm! Born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe or Zim as he calls it), he went to school in Cape Town, South Africa where he currently lives and works on his art. Dan's work usually involves the idea of the immigrant or displaced person, himself included. For a show in South Africa this summer during the World Cup he created a piece called Shifting the Goalposts where we went in and took a goal post from a football (soccer) field in South Africa and exchanged it with another post in Zimbabwe.

For his work in Scotland, Dan returned to a material he has used before, the Chinese laundry bag, variously called other immigrant baggage titles around the world. Using the pattern of the plastic bag, he commissioned a local mill to weave him a bolt of tartan in this pattern. He then created another bag out of the fabric as well as dressing himself up with it in a great kilt, which I then photographed him wearing out in front of the clock tower in Dufftown. He also positioned over a thousand barrels and painted the tops in the same pattern. Which, again I photographed with him from a cherry picker over 60 feet in the air on a very cold, windy, wet morning.

I already miss you Dan and all the great grilling (on the braai), the roast potatoes, our top 40 music early evening listening parties, pantsula and generally just messing about. Hopefully I'll be seeing you in South Africa next year Brah!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Artist in Residence: Carrie Iverson

My fellow American in residence at Glenfiddich, Carrie, ships back stateside on friday. Originally from Virginia now residing in Portland via Chicago, Carrie was the first glass artist in the program. Her pieces ranged from etching on cold glass that were inspired by wear patterns found around the distillery and into Dufftown itself to rubbings and my personal favorites, the glass bungs that she recreated from the original cork and wood plugs that are aged as the whisky sits in the barrels for as long as 12 to 50 years.

Carrie had to work off site in Lybster in the upper highlands at a glass foundry so she would be around for a couple weeks to join us for our shenanigans at the ceilidhs and fire pit nights and then venture off on her own. Good luck Carrie with the culture shock back here in the U.S. and see you in the spring in NYC!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Surfer Blood

I went to see The Drums in concert tonight but apparently I was always meant to see the opening band, Surfer Blood, because they were even more amazing (although this video is subpar to their incredible music).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Final Tally of Photographs Shot in Scotland

Still image frames = 7,881
Time lapse frames = 48,233

GRAND TOTAL of 56,114 images

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Last Day in Scotland.

My heart is breaking today, but please note, I am a sappy/sentimental person. If someone asked me a year ago today if I would spend almost 4 months living in Scotland in the near future I would have thought they were crazy and now I can barely believe I have to leave this place.

The things that I know about this experience already are incredible, the thought of the things I have yet to learn from this experience are almost as exciting. Moving away from New York City for the first time in 14 years, living abroad for the first time in my life, making art everyday... these are just the beginning of the insane things I'm experiencing right now.

I still wonder at the beauty of hanging my laundry to dry, even today as I put it out in the beautiful sunny October afternoon where I could see my breath, knowing that it would never dry and once it was dark outside, bringing it in still wet and now cold, to hang on drying racks and hangers in the shower.

Shopping at the Co-op for Halloween candy and toys when once I bought supplies to host an American Fourth of July celebration. Time passing in a new place is a profound thing to experience in one's life and I'm so glad and thankful for the experience.

I hope that I will be able to articulate to a greater extent what has happened to me while I was here. I could begin to list and recount all the activities and experiences, people I will remember forever, but it might be best now to just let those memories marinate in my brain as I travel home and adjust to the new changes that will be around me.

And finally, for a change, here's a photo of me on the top of Ben Rinnes last friday after Damian and I set out on a sunny morning to climb into a cloud covered mountain top that was like a private cold misty magical room at the top of the world where no one could see us.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Artist in Residence: Damian Moppett

It's starting to get really quiet here, my next door neighbor, Damian Moppett left today on his way back to Vancouver via Los Angeles. His work includes basically all media from sculpture to painting, drawing, film making and photography. For the show here in Dufftown, he created a sculpture of a mythic Scottish creature called the Brollachon.

Having set up a barbeque, sharing food, party guests and building an amazing fire pit, Damian has been a great neighbor. And he also constructed an incredible scarecrow to freak out the ducks at the cooling pond next to our cottage (see last week's post). Good luck in Los Angeles and see you soon!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chicken Tikka Masala

So for one of my final nights here, instead of making myself a traditional Scottish dish of haggis, neeps and tatties, I decided to try my hand at the national dish of the UK, Chicken Tikka Masala. The origins of the dish are still up for debate but many claim it was invented in Glasgow by an Indian chef improvising a sauce with yogurt, cream and spices. It was delicious!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Artist in Residence: Mao Yan

Mao Yan left today to head back to Shanghai. His paintings and drawings of workers at the distillery are beautiful, romantic portraits. Mao was so generous and great fun to hang out with at our fire pit. Though many things were lost in translation, we had a great time together. Good luck with the show in November!

Monday, October 4, 2010

On the Lorry

The ride on a lorry from Dufftown to Glasgow usually takes about 4 to 5 hours but here it is in just under two minutes. It was my first time in a big rig and Harry, the driver, and I had a great chat about the views along the countryside.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Some Musings on a Train

A quarry through the trees.
Trees. Bushes.
Sunlight reflects
the train interior.
People reading.
Rock. Pavement. Stopping.
Station House.
A red headed woman.
Signs and fences.
Cloudy now.
Green hose along barbed
wire fencing.
Trees and bushes freeze
when they come into
sight, then blur
into ghosts.
Pine trunks.
Riverbank. Highway.
Farm. Field. Road. Hill.
Overtaking car and sign.
Trees in row.
Roofs and windows.
Tunnel. Gradation of light.
Clouded valley and stone wall.
Trees fall.
Paint on window. Reflection
of a water bottle now.
My hand writing.
Browned shrubs.
Heather greyed.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Balvenie Mains Field No. 18 Then and Now

One of my favorite things about being here in Scotland for a few months is getting to watch the landscape change over time. I love looking at the small barley field outside my cottage window. These shots are from June 22nd and October 2nd.

Friday, October 1, 2010

An Excerpt from "Outside Lies Magic" by John R. Stilgoe

And maybe exploring ordinary landscape shakes, then shatters the walls that direct the thinking of so many Americans now, both children and adults, the victims of advertising and television and computer networks and scheduled school and work. Risking the shattering of those walls is worth all the risks of going for a long, careful walk, for riding a bicycle down a different street, for seeing what no one photographs, for noticing what no one realizes.
Whoever owns the real estate and its constituents, the explorer owns the landscape.
And the explorer owns all the insights, all the magic that comes from looking.