Playing with Fire

It has been 2 days since we (5 Canadian Artists and 5 UK Artists) arrived to the Scottish Sculpture Workshops here in Lumsden.
The village of Lumsden has a population of about 300 and seems are though there are about 300 livestock per person.


Having a walk about today with some colleagues and a wheelbarrow full of powdered plaster, jugs of water, buckets, clay and whatever else was necessary to make casts of elements in nature in our immediate surroundings.

I must admit, I have never before worked with any such sculptural materials or processes of casting, making moulds, wax, resin, bronze, aluminum, lead, steel or any of these.

And the SSW is well equipped to assist artists with these materials (along with ceramics, glass and wood), so I am taking this opportunity as a self-identified performance and installation artist to work out of my comfort zone and try casting in plaster and exploring the landscape they impressions instead of my usual medium of manipulating materials from the land, of attempting to make contact with the scape thru music or interventions that often involve some type of durational performance of repeated actions using my body.

Now I will experiment with clay, plaster, steel, wood, aluminum, wax and explore the relationship of the impression.

Exploring the notion of contact, a literal physical contact but a contact that is removed from the site and results in an artifact of memory.

As I explored the landscape with my colleagues, my mind wandered to the manufactured land that these livestock roam endlessly, but yet penned up, tagged, catalogued, numbered an inventory. Animals of which I am still unclear of their purpose, some for food resources, and others for tourism attractions I have been informed of.


These animals wander on this unnatural landscape that has been cut, ploughed, shaped, manicured to repurpose the land to contain creatures.

I spent quite a bit of time with the animals that I came into contact with along my trails, often falling behind the group who was is search of a Neolithic Pictish site.

I explored the rolling hills with my eyes, observing small patches of forestry, or often a times a small grove of trees, left behind after the land had been scraped and shaped.

I come across a clear cut.


The appearance of this clear cut hits me with such emotion that the wondrous looking landscape of rolling fields and pastures has suddenly brought me to a realization that this was at one point and time a wooded area.

I wonder what these Forrest’s would have looked like when the Pictish roamed these lands, forging steel for tools to create axes and hammers and adzes to cultivate the land.

There were many drumlins that we passed as we drove into Lumsden from Edinburgh and I understood the roll that nature had on this geography. These landscapes amazed me, the fields of heather was breathtaking.


But the countryside, the pastures, the fields of animals bred and kept for tourism, this broke my heart.

I walked through the clear cut for several minutes and stumbled onto a piece of quartzite that was pulled out from under the soft acidic moss and tannic layered earth. Then I left the clear cut to find my colleagues, who were casting the tire tracks in mud of farming vehicles.

They assisted me in laying clay onto a freshly cut spruce stump and pressing it onto the exposed life of the tree.


This area of trauma carried a heavy grief.
I felt as though the pressing of the clay was an act of trying to close a wound that would not stop bleeding.
Then the pouring of the plaster (to make a mould of the trauma) slowed the metaphorical bleeding, if only for a short period of time, even though death of this once Forrest was evident.

We then continued on in search of the Neolithic Pictish site, which will have to have a second round to locate it, for we wandered on lanes in countryside with no sign of the site.

I left the group to return to SSW, but stopped at the clear cut, at the stump that I was waiting plaster moulds of, I then picked the clay off the stump and pulled, scraped and picked of this scab like plaster mould that is yet to be determined in what it will result as an end product.

However, I now have this evidential artifact of the death of a Forrest on which at some point and time used to be traditional tribal lands of these Pictish people’s.

I know this is an unusually long blog entry, and a lot of pictures documenting the journey, both physical and psychological.

But I am planning to use this forum of my blog for the time being as a public sketchbook of sorts.

I normally am very private in my thoughts and production processes.

But this time and I am willing to share this information for I am not sure where it goes from here.

But tomorrow I play with fire.


One response

  1. susan

    Oooooo thank you for this Ursula. Gave me goosebumps.

    October 5, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s