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!

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