‘That movement of looking is now held in a material’ - the experience of connecting, becoming part of what one sees and turning the gaze inward through observation, is materialised in powerful floor-to-ceiling observed drawings.

1. Connection through Observation: the Artist as natural system

Seeing Beyond the Immediate (which toured three Scottish public art galleries between 2017/18) is an experiential installation whose narrative explores artistic and cognitive processes of the artist who moves between figuration and abstraction.


The result of a 3-month Royal Scottish Academy residency at Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s house and studio in St Andrews, the artworks create a visual dialogue which tells the story of creating a place for oneself for observation to turn inwards. Focussing on the evolution of artist rather than artefact, the installation offers a deeper material exploration of the physical and processual elements involved in six sections:

2. Something and nothing: negative as a dynamic

‘The dominant energy in the universe resides in empty space’ - For me, energy is fundamental: the dominant energy resides in empty space. In the balancing-up between abstraction and figuration, it is the absence or negative space that activates the artwork, yet also makes it unstable.

3. Evolution: Complex to simple /simple to complex

‘Attuning to nothingness through complexity’ - Often I’m involved with the idea that you can paint or draw something terribly complex and through making it, the complexity reduces to something unitary. I seek this absence though a process that involves intense scrutiny.  The process of reducing elements as a material way of reaching the essence of subject matter, is exposed in a digital animation of the life cycle of energy between the two related paintings.

4. Balancing up : the Artist’s cognitive signature?

‘…the way one shape in an image impinged on all the others creating tension between elements or upsetting the balance.’ Barns-Graham

Are the artist’s decisions made towards balancing up an artwork, effectively the artist’s cognitive signature? I compared my decision-making to that of Willie Barns-Graham, via the decisions made evident in the layering of screen-print and collage processes.

5. Self-reflection: organisation of Self

A ‘studio’ environment showing the self-awareness of reflective art practice using preparatory works by Barns-Graham, her contemporary - Scottish abstract artist William Gear and myself.

Installation shots of Reflection : Organisation of Self Lillie Art Gallery

6. Coalescing the diverse: becoming whole

‘…the different elements (of self) as one’ A final space suggesting artistic work as the culmination of processes and products of the artist’s development rather than as isolated artefacts. The Field of Trees installation creates a space between two 3 x 2metre mirrors that create an infinity mirror, where the viewer becomes part of the ‘virtual wood’ they enter.