Lines of Enquiry – Dorothy Jackson

My work during this project evolved through collaboration with MESH artists Irene Campbell, Sophie Ferguson and Barbara Rowell, based on our common interest in materials- and process-led approaches, as well as contemporary weaving techniques. As the project went along, we met several times to share techniques and ideas, and to pass on materials from our own practices to each other. These cross-linkages can be seen in the work we are showing in ‘Lines of Enquiry’.

My line of enquiry stems from my experiences as a beekeeper. While melting down old honeycombs to extract the wax, I noticed tiny, semi-translucent objects floating to the surface.

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They were the silk cases that had lined the wax cells where bee larvae had pupated. These tiny structures literally encapsulated the life of the hive and seemed imbued with concentrated meaning. I began to explore different ways of working with wax and hive frames, with inclusions of paper, threads and inks.

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This work is a continuation of my interest in natural materials, and the technologies and cultural meanings associated with them. Bees are the supreme technicians of wax, secreting it from their abdomens to create combs of hexagonal cells where larvae are reared from eggs to spin their silk cases, pupate and metamorphose into adult bees. Bee silk differs from other insect silks; being made of coiled protein coils it is very tough.

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Barbara Rowell visited me at my home on Skye with a box of samples and materials she had been working with. We tried out different ways of combining these with my experiments with wax, and made a work together.

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Finding our way to a creative space where we could fuse our respective interests and know-how was an intense and rewarding experience, and produced results that individually we might not have thought of. A conversation with Barbara introduced me to the symbolic associations of bees in ancient Egyptian culture.

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I also read about bee neurophysiology, finding out how bees experience their world and learning that foraging bees exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides can’t find their way home.

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These associations fed into my work, which is becoming a commentary on humankind’s long history of living alongside honeybees and the threats now facing them from disease and pesticide use.

 

Dorothy Jackson’s work will be on show in the Lines of Enquiry Exhibition at the Maclaurin Gallery, Ayr, open daily from 2nd July to 6th August 2017

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Soosan Danesh – Lines of Enquiry

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My aim is to create atmospheric, emotional and engaging images, to offer the viewer a space to daydream or evoke a distant memory. I try not to think of the end result and just draw my line of thoughts and emotions of what I see. I capture the images by camera or make some quick on-site sketches before working on the new painting in my studio. Usually I start with a loosely brushed horizon and scenes of colour washes across the surface of canvas or wood, and in contrast with some crisp edges to emphasise the  delicate balance between colour and lines. I work with acrylic and oil paint, and predominantly in multiple or Triptych combinations, mainly abstract or in recognisable landscape.

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For this exhibition I was really inspired by the collaborative workshops we had, especially with the integrating experiments with colours and natural patterns. All that overlapping vision was a great starting point for my paintings, and our collaborative work.

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Soosan Danesh’s work will be on show in the ‘Lines of Enquiry’ Exhibition at the Maclaurin Gallery in Ayr from Saturday 2nd July- Sunday 6th August

John Nowak – Lines of Enquiry

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My paintings are abstract compositions based on the relationship of shapes, colours and forms and rather than being capable of any single interpretation they should be experienced and reflected upon by the senses through the eye. And as we are all different I am conscious that the way they are perceived will be conditioned by the individual viewer’s feelings, emotions and background.
Some of my larger paintings are simply what you see – regular, sharp-edged combinations of colour, line and form with variations in size and scale. There are also smaller works through which I have sought to explore the emotional relationship of shape and colour to musical sounds.

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Working within an artists’ collective, I believe that collaboration on all levels is an essential ingredient for success. Soosan Danesh and I share a fascination for the concepts of ‘horizon’ and we are working together on a project where we ask fundamental questions about how we might understand the significance of ‘horizon’. Initially we considered it’s physical properties – that of a line on the landscape where the sky meets the land but with the knowledge that it can never actually be reached. We then took a different approach thinking of ‘on the horizon’ as representing personal or shared goals and mental perceptions. Our project is very much a work in progress and we are conscious that the scope for visual representation of this complex and subjective area is vast if not limitless.

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See more of John Nowak’s work in the Lines of Enquiry Exhibition at the Maclaurin Gallery, Ayr, open daily from Saturday 2nd July – Sunday 6th August 2017

Barbara Rowell – Lines of Enquiry

For this project I got together with a group of four Mesh artists with a shared interest in developing contemporary weaving and natural dyeing techniques. Initially we shared ideas and had a very in depth and valuable discussion about where we wanted the project to lead us. Through this we identified some specific materials and processes that we would all investigate and develop in our own ways. These included beeswax, paper, hive frames, and wool.

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On an individual level, I became obsessed with translucence, the revelation of what lies beneath the surface. Wax is a wonderful medium for exploring these ideas in form. I researched homemade cold wax medium recipes that gave translucence to Japanese woodblock prints. Examples of my findings will be on show in our forthcoming ‘Lines of Enquiry’ exhibition.

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Sophie Ferguson and I had already identified common threads in ideas running behind our work and we wanted to share best practice in our materials investigations.  We found that working together on a single body of work created a sort of synergy that produced some unexpected results. Working closely with another like-minded artist over an extended period of time was a truly liberating experience and above all fun – we became more playful and experimental than we might have allowed ourselves to be individually, and as a result we have created a vocabulary which allows us to express our ideas further.  It also helped us to commit to the work, as time spent collaborating was both precious and scarce.

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During the course of the project, another artist in our group, Dorothy Jackson, invited me to her croft on Skye, where she keeps bees, for a collaborative get together. We spent a very enjoyable and intense few days on a ‘mini residency’, experimenting with beeswax from the hives and other materials, and exchanging ideas and progress.

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Through this mini-residency we produced a collaborative work in beeswax which truly represents a coming together of our ideas and practices, for the exhibition at The Maclaurin Gallery, Ayr, 2nd July – 6th August.

 

Marion Barron – Lines of Enquiry


My recent research has focussed on the distinctive aesthetic of post war Brutalist buildings. Using these buildings as a starting point has given me a structure to explore pattern, form, colour, line and space. It has been interesting, also, to reflect on the environmental and social aspects of Brutalist architecture, although ultimately it is the visual aspects which are of greater interest to me. For the ‘Lines of Enquiry’ exhibition some of this research was carried out jointly with Susie Reade, resulting in a confluence of ideas, sketches, prints, collages and artists’ books.

Marion Barron’s work will be on show in ‘Lines of Enquiry’ at the MacLaurin Gallery in Ayr from 2nd July to 6th August

Susie Reade – Lines of Enquiry

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My mother wrote a diary when she worked in Moscow in 1944 – 45. The gaps in her writing form the basis of my work for the Maclaurin Gallery in 2017. I aimed to understand why did such an approachable young woman find it impossible to make friends at a time when the Russians were allies with Britain.

Russian brutalist domestic architecture hints at the answer. Sharp edges, tall magnificence, references to classical proportions, standardised apartments, and identical furniture were all planned to house Russian communities who lived according to Stalin’s ideals. Any expressions of individuality or meeting foreign friends had to remain secret for fear of arrest and death in the icy gulags. Understanding this has filled some gaps.

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We are fortunate to have escaped such cruel political regimes. The Scottish version of Brutalist architecture is softer. The focus of my art making is now Scotland. This is where the art work has become collaborative; Marion Baron and I worked together drawing brutalist buildings in Edinburgh, wondering about the current and previous inhabitants, admiring the concrete shapes and textured surfaces which I had previously thought so ugly. We studied the ‘banana flats’ of the film Trainspotting 2 and British Homes Stores in Edinburgh. The simple line, shiny surface and pattern on buildings of the mid twentieth century point to space age optimism.

We enjoy our different styles of drawing, the elegant and the messy and assembling them with each other. We hope our collaboration will continue beyond the end of this exhibition though where it will go we do not know.

Susie Reade’s work will be on show in our forthcoming exhibition at The Maclaurin Gallery in Ayr, open daily from 2 July to 6 August.