In the early days of spring, I begin work on my mini-residency for the Ecology Centre in Kinghorn. This role is supported by Fife Contemporary and will result in the creation of a new artwork for the centre. As an artist, my work focuses on the relationships between people, place and nature and so this is a wonderful chance to work somewhere which embodies those principles. I won’t be working on this commission alone; the many people who work, visit and volunteer at the Ecology Centre will be involved every step of the way. It is a creative activity which involves many hands, minds and viewpoints. My role is to weave these threads together to capture some of the spirit and purpose of the Ecology Centre.
The first phase of my residency is spending time getting to know the site, and the people within it. Each time I return there is something new to be seen, spurred on by the arrival of spring. One day a clutch of goslings come skittering across the loch, flanked by honking parents. The leaves of the sycamores rapidly unfurl into soft handkerchiefs, creating a canopy of green in the wooded areas. The daffodils die back and are replaced by bluebells. And in amongst it all, the staff and volunteers of the Ecology Centre are busy, busy, busy. In the tool shed, shears are brought back to shining sharpness, in the kitchen, caramel is bubbling, and scones are being prepared for the weekend. Groups of children arrive for Easter camps, and I join them round the bonfire for a marshmallow.
A few weeks later I begin running workshops. I work with two of the existing assisted volunteer groups, leading printmaking sessions where we produce beautiful prints of the animals and plants around the centre. Over the course of an hour or so, inky swans, coots, tadpoles and frogs start to appear on the page, the fingerprints of the individual makers leaving delicate traces on the paper.
Later I run a workshop which is open to the public. We spend the morning making mini notebooks and then sketching outdoors. We are lucky enough to have a clear, warm day. In retrospect we could have spent longer exploring all the beautiful spots around the site, but I, ever in waiting for rain, have prepared a whole host of activities to carry on with indoors! The group work with monoprinting, stencils and carbon paper to build up a richly textured set of images. The whole time we are working my mind is whirring with possibilities for these artworks. We talk about printing onto fabric, of making banners and screens that you can weave in and out of. It’s a brilliant day, attended by a wonderfully open and engaged group of families, teenagers and adults who are just getting back into creative work.
And now I am sitting, surrounded by all the incredible work made by volunteers and workshop attendees, pondering my next steps.
Annie’s artwork will be unveiled this summer.
You can find out more about Annie’s work here: www.annielord.co.uk