In February I received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council to help me prepare for my coming exhibition at the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas and to have a study trip to Orkney, the place where my recent work has been taking me to over and over again.
The trip was short and sweet. I arrived with a bump on a small plane on a stormy day, horizontal sleet with occasional heavy snow flakes and wind that truly took your breath away if you were stupid enough to open your mouth! Not a horizon in sight, just a bleak grey/blackness through the squint of my eyes and a sign saying: "Welcome to Kirkwall".
I was here!
My accommodation took my blues away. It was an auld kirk revamped into apartments in a beautiful village called Finstown, seconds away from the shore. I had little time to travel round the main island visiting as many cairns, brochs, stones and dwellings as I could fit in,. The weather constantly changed and I was blessed with sunshine during some outings to Scara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar.
I was constantly collecting materiel to use for future work. Walking to the Cureen chambered cairn which was situated on a hill. I found a torch in a box on the outside of a very small and narrow entrance, I realised if I was to proceed it was on my hands and knees through a stone corridor. What I found at the other end was complete blackness. The torch battery had seen better days and the pittance of light that came from it showed little. No words could describe how alone I felt, at least I hoped I was alone. Getting out of the dam cairn would not have been swift! I knew my camera would flash like a strobe light trying to find something to focus on. For the first time I was able to see where I was. A small hive chamber with 3 other chambers leading off, once found with the skulls of 24 dogs and 8 humans. Next time I will take my own torch.
What I loved most of what I found were the traces of many different times. Neolithic stones reused by Picitsh people, carvings and graffiti by the Nords, vandalism by the Victorians and redesign by the Edwardian. People come and gone leaving their mark on the landscape. Objects constantly evolving and giving us clues as to what their formal glory might have been.
We will never know for sure and lets face it, the mystery is much more intriguing.
So here I am back in Canada again, working in the studio trying to touch on some of these ideas.
For my coming exhibition time has run out, the making had ended and sitting in its glazed and final stages.
For me though, I think the story has just begun and the work will flow and evolve with time.