For the Love of a Place by Mekhala Dave
Do you know what it feels like falling in love with a place? Every step is a breath, miracles in a moment, a couple’s fingers entwined, a man’s small smile to himself when he touches a flower, an old couple by the seas and gust of winds that metamorphoses into mystical weather patterns, may define my love for a place.
Zinon and I, drenched to bones in cold showers, made our way to the Gallery of Modern Art when I said, “Change is inevitable, such weather will never be static in this city.” Zinon replied, “I don’t believe in change of any kind, a kinder word is ‘evolving’.
Perhaps, I am within the process of evolving and not, as Zinon stated, within a change or shift in my life. Having grown up in many places, I haven’t allowed a place to define me, my relationship to a place has remained volatile and hollow. We passed by a soothing landscape that blanketed neatly at the peripheral of the city, I was spellbound by how the sunlight cast over the rolling hills, glistening deeply in hues of yellow.
But Zinon’s voice interrupted my admiration, “I can never truly look at those hills. . . They make me feel nostalgic of nature back at my home.” I replied, “Doesn’t nature belong to all of us, Zinon? Something we have in common is. . . nature, love and art, which belongs to just nobody but at the same time, everybody.”
I glanced quietly at Zinon and noticed his longish hair curling at his ears. His hands gestured gracefully whenever he spoke, words uttered by him like a poetic delicacy, soft yet brazen like the mangling of thin and thick brushstrokes on a canvas.
It may be a facet of truth that Zinon and my conversation will never be emulated again by us. We will never be the same. My interpretation of Zinon will be altered as we both age and morph into fresh moments like these. Our moment passed, like the reforming of clouds, scuttling in the vast skies to reach their destinations, or perhaps, not.
But does the place evolve then, the pace at which we evolve? What happens to our relationship with a place when we move away from it? Does it dissolve in the weight of a sheer memory or triggers an intense feeling when we encounter our cultural roots? Can we be defined by a place or do we define a place, what do we make of a place?
Through my photographs, I present Scotland in fragments, in the form of answers to our questions. I believe in the recurring of these conversations and images, the escape is in countless interpretations – as an only salvage.
"Metamorphosis, by Kafkaesque definition, is alienation from society and sensing changes within oneself inundated by profound reasoning, thus, spilling into physical or facial changes of a person. This means the word is meant to represent an internal conflict within a person but not a conflict from an external point of view. But for me, I take the word to mean transience / transformation when there is contact between a person and the spatial, the fluidity in considering how a space effects a person's reach and perception, how the spatial propels changes within a person's character, personality and emotional tones, how this makes a person think in contradictions about his own self-growth, whether he welcomes it or is reluctant to change? For example, moving into a new city or country, makes a person inhabit a new culture, tradition and how much of it does he incorporate it into his own life? There is a sort of impermanence to the situation, I present this as an on-going conversation between myself and my friend, two people that moved to a new city / country, while he seemed to resist change, I learn to embrace it but I give an inkling to the reader that change is a path of evolution, not simply bouncing off from being in one form to another."
Mekhala Dave, Masters student in Modern & Contemporary Art: History, Curating and Criticism 2016-2017.
Fantôme by Jean-François Krebs
"Fantôme (ghost in French) is a performance I did in my own flat in Edinburgh. I invited only two people to come and see the performance. My flat hadn’t been cleaned nor tidied for more than a month, reflecting my inner apathy, creating an oppressive and uneasy atmosphere. In this warm, womb-like environment, I re-enacted my own embryonic life, and fusion with a possible twin, with Barbara and Dalida songs in the background. Depression, twinning, gender identity, foetal memory.
Fantôme was screened for the first time during the event the Library is Open! Drag queen poems that I organised with poet Iain Morrison in the Scottish Poetry Library. This event has recently won the the Creativity Award 2016 from Creative Edinburgh."
37° Celsius nebula
I miss you
comme avant, sur un nuage blanc
pour cueillir en tremblant
des étoiles, des étoiles
as if I could live inside myself
when I was a child I wanted to be a cosmonaut
or a scuba diver
I wanted to go back from the very beginning
to go back inside looking for you
go back to the stellar nursery
helium hydrogen and dust
as if I didn’t need to breathe
as if twin-twin transfusion syndrome
was a funny game
twin-twin, twin-twin on the playground
it is always the biggest star that first wastes away
didn’t you like it?
Digital Illustrations by Roxana Karam
"My illustrations are combination of modern fashion style with a traditional floral pattern. I have been inspired by traditional Persian flowers and birds pattern (گُل و مرغ) which dates back to the late Zand or early Qajar period (twelfth century AH / eighteenth CE or thirteenth century AH / nineteenth CE). This pattern is the symbol of love and creation. I believe the dynamism and the character of the Persian pattern with flowers and bird, combined with the modern fashion and outfit design can make a beautiful unique balance in the fashion industry. I have also been fascinated by the combination of warm colours in these patterns which bring out the liveliness of the outfit texture. Growing up with beautiful Persian patterns, I have always been so passionate about colours and organic natural shapes since my childhood and always have admired my country's (Iran) history of art and design."
Roxana is a Phd student in Architecture.
The Metamorphosis series by Irina Cucu, Digital Prints
Inspiration and process:
"The Metamorphosis series started by combining my interests in portraiture, psychology, natural patterns, and the study of patterns to visually explore the theme of losing control in my life. The goal was to make portraits but I wanted them to give a bit more information than a standard portrait. I used patterns and personal experiences to visually describe what some of the dark corners of our mind look like.
The name comes from Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, of course, but I also want my images to stand alone and to not need to be explained if I’m not around. One of the reasons I chose bugs as the basis for my patterns in some of the portraits was an allusion to Kafka, but it's also a reference to my own nightmares. I dreamt once that somebody was putting a beetle-like bug on me, letting it scratch my face with its feet, and I was just paralysed in fear. I don't have an insect phobia, but having them on your face I'm sure is a thought that makes many people's skin crawl. So I used them to create feelings of uneasiness and discomfort in some of my work. Some of the feelings depicted in this series are irrational and uncontrolled. I want people to look at this series and relate to it in some way. We’ve all had experiences were we felt we had no control, or a nightmare so real the fear stayed in our memory for a while.
I have always been drawn to portraiture and I like painting people I know, which is one of the reasons I chose to make self-portraits. I find faces fascinating and strongly linked to my interest in symmetrical patterns. I spent a lot of time reading about how the brain perceives patterns and their role in nature. A face is the image our brain always looks for when seeing an unfamiliar shape, like when we observe clouds or look at paint spilled on the floor. We, as humans, only need our faces and the medium of patterns to tell our story.
I used my face for this series mostly out of convenience. I know myself better than I know anybody else, plus I’m always around if I need a new photo to work from. I didn't want the face to be fully seen because this was not a vanity project and at the end of the day the face is a great canvas—it has lots of space to work on! I will continue with this series by including portraits of friends—again, people I know well—in a similar style. I want to create patterns for their faces. For some it might be my idea of them, for others it could be a story they tell, and then I will translate it into an image.
I would also like to add that the final image is the most important part to me. If you choose to become a visual artist, you better visually stimulate people. I don’t want to make work people only decide to like after they hear the concept behind it. The person viewing should already know instinctively if they like it or not, and then learn about the work more in depth. If something is made with knowledge of art principles and a true respect for the craft, it will almost always end up being a captivating image and worth exploring further by understanding what the artist was trying to depict.
Materials and technique:
I like working traditionally as well as digitally. I don't find one easier than the other. I like to combine them. Sometimes I will paint something and then combine it with a picture of something else on the computer. The combination always yields unexpected but interesting results. It's something I am still experimenting with.
For the patterns in the digital prints I used pictures of beetles I took myself at a museum. I isolate the beetle from the background of the picture, duplicate it, invert it, move it around; that simple symmetrical shape is the first element of the pattern. After that I continue with the duplicating, mirroring, shaping, using the portrait as a background.
I am a big believer in understanding traditional skills and knowing about the history of art. I like seeing and making balanced images where the use of composition, colour, lightness, darkness, etc. are used to their full potential in a deliberate and meaningful way."
Irina is a Painting graduate from Edinburgh College of Art. Click here to see more of her work.
Paintings by Tiffany Barber
“My work is based on the female form and the objectification of women through the use of media. I normally use images from the internet and incorporate them with elements from Greek sculptures of the female nude.
The initial idea for my work was to create a surreal image of the female figure that consisted of easily accessible images from the media. I tend to base my work on the female figure, yet I wanted to explore in these paintings how the female body is portrayed in media today. I have taken pictures of glamour models from ZOO magazine and images from Google which provided basic images of ‘healthy’ feminine physiques. Each of these paintings has been constructed from collage work, which has given me the freedom to manipulate the images to present the issues of women in media. I have combined the form of the body with geometric frames and also removed any personal identity from the figures. This is to emphasise how sexualised the female form has become in the media. This is a precarious subject to interpret in a painting, as I am essentially objectifying the female figure in my paintings to raise questions about the objectification of women. These paintings attempt to comment on and communicate these issues by visualising the women with glossy, smooth, Photoshopped, and perfected bodies, with the removal of their identities asking the question: when will the extremity of sexualising women in the media come to realistic terms with making truthful representations of women?”
Hanging in the Balance-Infinity by Alys Gillbert, Installation
"The beautiful ideal of equality of the sexes is a topic frequently explored in art and many other fields. It is one of the greater issues of our time. However, the fight for gender equality has consistently been misinterpreted as man-hating. This is fundamentally what this project hoped to eradicate. At the heart of the work was an endeavour to create a union and balance between men and women. The intention was to create an aesthetically attractive form that could express the essential bond between the sexes and their mutual importance.
Extensive research culminated into an installation and supporting photographic and silkscreen printed work. The natural forms used were all significant at one time in history for their symbolism of either men or women (see Figure 1). Each element used a different process, from the plaster casting of twigs to the hand moulding of leaves using malleable plastic. Perhaps the most successful element of the piece however was the graceful aesthetic of these objects combined, far surpassing their singular beauty. For thousands of years, symbols have been recycled to signify the dominance of one sex. Throughout the project it was intended to find something that instead defined the union and importance of both; the infinity symbol does just that, referencing the male (solar) in the clockwise rotation and the female (lunar) in the anti-clockwise. Suspended from a wooden structure using the medium of fishing wire, the natural forms were encouraged to move together to logically adopt the infinity shape, insinuating the importance of a balance. From a distance, the objects appeared to float in absolute harmony, their pure white colour suggesting that no object was more important that the other.
Objects used in the installation and their meaning:
Laurel leaves (female):
Daphne became a laurel tree to escape the love of Apollo
Apollo tended to the tree for all eternity, vowing to use her leaves to crown bravery
Laurel twig (male):
Laurel twigs were used to place water on sacrificed blood
Laureate – ‘laurel-crowned one’
Brides would carry oranges as a symbol of fertility.
‘White flower of her virginity and fruit her chastity’
Symbolic of the male testes
Clockwise = male (solar)
Anti-clockwise = female (lunar)
Demonstrative of divine equality
Lilies have been used as a symbol of female purity and chastity
The Greeks regarded the lily as a symbol of high eroticism (male)
Alys is a Fine Art and History of Art (MAFA) student at Edinburgh College of Art.
Illustration by Chiho Nishiwaka
"My theme has been ‘illustration and painting’ since I started my research at ECA. I use hand drawing and painting to investigate the expression of illustration. Illustration is a relatively new field to me compared with painting. Both fields manage two-dimensional works, but they are fundamentally different in terms of their media. Illustration is usually made for reproduction and printed or displayed online, whilst drawing and painting are exhibited in their original form. Nowadays, illustration is considered to be a professional field and is not limited to the reproduction of painting and drawing. I would like to investigate the possibilities of illustration with this in mind. This does not mean that I have lost my passion for drawing and painting. My purpose is not to separate illustration and painting, but to bring elements of painting and drawing into illustration. It is important to know the differences between the two mediums to avoid perceiving illustration as just the reproduction of drawing and painting.
This illustration of La Vallée des Cloches composed by Maurice Ravel is made using pencil, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop. This is the incorporation of music, drawing and computer software to explore the expression of illustration. While part of my current project, it is still individualistic and experimental."
Photography by Evonne Bain
"I am interested in the idealised and unrealistic expectations of beauty that are placed upon a woman by her society, her peers and most importantly by herself. In womanhood, we weave our public faces with strands of these expectations. I am interested in finding what happens when those strands snap and the proposed image collapses. As we attempt to achieve the physical perfection, we must accept or even welcome failure, for there is no way to believe fully in the fantasies that we create for ourselves. Although these images are separate, they echo the same ideas. The question of the individual is raised and the cyclical nature of beauty pondered. The complicated relationship between a woman's self-identity and her environment is brought to light."
Evonne is currently studying Photography at Edinburgh College of Art.
By Flaviu Cipcigan, PhD candidate in Physics
One of the aims of science is to provide an accurate representation of reality, an aim shared by many artists. I am a PhD student of physics studying how water molecules interact, and as part of my research I developed a computer-simulated model that displays the different patterns made by molecules in their various physical states. I became particularly interested in the shapes of electrons when water molecules crystallise into the form of ice found at high pressures. After a few days of calculations, I came to the image shown below.
To my eye, the patterns looked like bubbles of blown glass (which is counterintuitive, since a crystal such as ice has atoms arranged in an orderly fashion, while glass atoms are jumbled together).
While making these images, I was lucky to be part of a collaboration between the Edinburgh College of Art and the School of Physics and Astronomy called the SCART Connection. The goal was to explore similarities between how artists and scientists think. Together with designer Sam Frankland, glass blowers Ingrid Phillips and Kirstin Binnie, and fine artist Rachel McBrinn, my glass-like image was given three-dimensional form.
This glass sculpture represents something previously unseen, and brings electrons from the realm of abstract symbols, through the realm of images (my model) into the realm of physical objects (the sculpture). It is the closest I can get to holding electrons in my hand, and I find that beautiful.
Science exposes an incredible yet unseen world of electrons shaping themselves into intricate patterns around molecules. This world can be moulded into new experiments in art. Through this process, art brings human values into places where there are none. Just as we draw invisible lines between the stars to outline mythical heroes, we can see ourselves in atoms, molecules, cells and organisms.
Photography by David Cass, edited by Flaviu Cipcigan, and movie stills by Rachel McBrinn
Seaweed Sequins by Jasmine Linington, Textiles
"I was primarily inspired by nature in my final year graduate pieces that were based on elements of the beach. I was determined to create a collection of beautiful and luxurious textiles to showcase my handcrafting skills. I was fascinated by seaweed and developed this work by creating a seaweed sequin to use as embellishment. I wanted to demonstrate that designers can create beautiful pieces by working with the natural elements that surround them. This piece consists of a base fabric of wool, which is hand-dyed and embellished. The organic form growing from the pink wool is inspired by barnacles I photographed at Kingsdown beach in Kent. It consists of a hand embroidery technique, the French knot and cutwork, along with a pulled thread technique. I also incorporated plastic within this piece to give it more of a contemporary touch, and it is finished with the seaweed sequins. This image was taken at Newhaven beach in Edinburgh."
Jasmine studied Textiles at Edinburgh College of Art. Click here to see more of her work.
Revolutionary Photography by Imraan Christian
‘The “Revolution” is irrelevant. The very word implies revolving; going around, returning. Battle after battle, revolution after revolution, the slave adapts, subject to an advanced form of torture and on revolt, the people fight only part of the cause of the oppression. For freedom, we cannot revolve; we need to evolve. What is required is a complete shift in consciousness: Holistic rebellion, dismantling every form of oppression.’ – Nazlee Arbee
Imraan Christian is a South African photographer who has gained recognition due to his work photographing the current student uprisings led by the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ movement. His photographs, while dark and violent, depict those who believe in genuine equality and freedom. The pure intention of achieving genuine equality and freedom underlies the chaos. The movement fights against colonial continuities at universities. Students have mobilised to fight against both overt and less visible forms of institutional racism.
Imraan is a student studying at the University of Cape Town.
Le Marais by Luisa Rheinlander, Wine label
Luisa is an Australian graphic designer and illustrator who recently won the prestigious Communication Arts Award of Excellence. This work, inspired by natural gardens, seeks to link the floral designs of Le Marais Wines with the courts of aristocratic Europe. The flowers and fruit depicted in the lady’s headdress refer to the descriptive flavours of the wine itself.
Conceptual Centre folds by Arran Stamper
Life Drawing by Lizzie Quirke
"This is a series of two-minute life drawings that were drawn partially blindly. I have been attending the University of Edinburgh Art Society’s life drawing class, and I liked how blind drawings and line drawings with a thicker pen create a dramatic and powerful silhouette. I thought it was a novel way of depicting the human body."
Lizzie is a fourth year student studying Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh.
Halos by Juli Bolanos-Durman
Medium: Engraved glass paddies
Photography: Andres García Lachner
Painting by Madeleine Gardiner
"The ways in which elements within a landscape are affected by light has always driven my work and has increasingly become a core area of intrigue for me. For me the sky is the most important part of a landscape painting because it is the source of light, and light is the reason I paint. I paint primarily from memory, and use collages of images to form both physical and mental compositions. I like elements of difficulty to work against in my paintings so I often create controls to work with, such as a bright base layers, geometric stripes to work over and varnishing before painting to add a contrasting sheen. Doing this means that I have to constantly adapt my composition as I work and I enjoy the play off between the processes. I constantly try out new materials and processes, which keeps me interested and gives me opportunities to experiment. I always have an idea in my head of how a painting will turn out, but what keeps it exciting for me is that the mediums I use often challenge my direction. I enjoy trying to make paint both look like paint and the element of the landscape it is representing. I also like to reveal processes I have been using within the painting, because I find them visually interesting. I feel that this is an important part of my work as it is up to the viewer to decide how they feel about it, which is true of my work as a whole."
Fall of Stone by Joseph Wilson, Photography
"The loud industrialism that once dominated the site of Ashington Colliery and its associated pits has given way to a post-industrial picture, made possible by a landscaping scheme. In the cutting silence across the idyll of this woodland, the fall of stone can still be heard."
Ode to Intuición Series by Juli Bolanos-Durman
"The primary theme within my creative process is the exploration of preciousness and how intuition jumpstarts the creation of new ideas within the studio. Preciousness is not only the value or quality of the materials themselves, but more so the journey of transformation they represent. I find myself favouring and treasuring objects that act as storytellers and constitute experiences that create emotional connections. Therefore, it is essential for the creative process to give the artwork the same significance, disregarding where it came from or how it was constructed. I want to create raw pieces that are put together sensibly through the joyfulness of play, exploring the different materials to create new meaning and inviting the viewer to become part of the journey. This is how the ‘Ode to Intuición’ series of sixty non-functional or sculptural vessels came to life."
Medium: Found, blown and engraved glass
Additional Credits: Shannon Tofts
Photography by Lucy Everitt
"This photograph was taken in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen using a Canon SureShot 70 zoom film camera with black and white film. The focal point of the photograph is the graffiti that states ‘ONE MAN’S TRASH ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE’. I feel as though this statement instigates debate about themes related to beauty such as taste and subjectivity, as well as beauty itself. The idea that something worthless to one could be treasured by another suggests that beauty cannot be thought of as a one-dimensional, easily defined entity. Instead it is something highly subjective that can be experienced entirely differently based upon different people’s perceptions."
Lucy is a third year student studying Genetics (Bachelor of Sciences).
Rhythms of the night no. 2 by Alexandra Roddan
‘Rhythms of the night no. 2’ has been put forward for an exhibition on the development plans for St James’s Shopping Centre in Edinburgh. I wanted to create a piece that was vibrant and diverse. The painting is based on a blurred, highly exposed photograph of a street outside the shopping centre at nighttime. All the objects are distorted. A tree is in the foreground along with light from moving cars and reflections from buildings in the background. Artificial lighting at night creates a more interesting visual dynamic: a sense of diverse, rapidly interchanging movements that I feel illustrate the buzz of modern life. My aim was to translate these different energies, feelings and movements that were seemingly disordered and chaotic through mark making. Working intuitively, I experimented with colour, shape, and texture to achieve a sense of harmony between chaos and control. The way paint is applied is diverse and the tactile nature of the medium itself is fundamental to my practice in keeping a painting alive and animated.'
Medium: Enamel, hardware, acrylic, gloss on oil paint on mdft 4x4ft
Click here to see more of Alexandra's work.
Blurred by Santiago Paulos
"Every day on my way home through the Meadows, I pass a particular group of trees. When I first noticed them, they triggered something in me. The metal mesh and the three wooden poles constraining the plants to keep them growing straight made me think of man vs. nature and the way we see nature through different human structures. The trees became part of my personal history and a potential subject for my work. I started to paint an environment that included wooden fences and other elements that could surround the trees. I realised that this pictorial construction had an aspect of isolated containment. In these works, I aim to create a sense of familiarity with the depiction of banal objects, as well as the uncanny feeling that there is something else behind what you see.
Painting constantly shifts back and forth between its materiality and its capacity to evoke illusion. I seek to maintain both of these qualities; I create artificial landscapes, fake scenarios inhabited with different structures, and play with the flatness of the surfaces to create a notional, mental space."
Nature by Anna Vesaluoma
People and Nature as Presence:
"My nature work is inspired by landscape as a living force and site of non-human creation. Nature encompasses a paradoxical temporal element—it is always transforming, growing, evolving, but often very slowly, which creates the illusion of stillness, and hence often is mistakenly perceived as something static and unchanging. My work attempts to show the strength, beauty and mystery of a powerful breathing nature. I am interested in the sense of presence when surrounded by wilderness, and as a result, the intimate spiritual affinity one can have with nature.
Experience, rather than representation, is an important aspect of my work; my paintings do not reference geographical locations, but rather embrace what it feels like to be immersed in the environment, exploring the surreal possibilities of unusual colour and organic form, and investigating the symbolic and emotional potential embodied in them.
‘The woods are a place of inbetweenness’, wrote Robert MacFarlane. My paintings consider this inbetweenness. The kind of nature I am curious about is that which lies on the borderline between stillness and change, real and abstract, human and natural, objective and subjective. My paintings are not mere representations of nature, but is allusions to something beyond the pictorial.
Anna is a Painting student at Edinburgh College of Art.
Paintings by Lily Macre
"My practice revolves around exploring the space between representation and abstraction in creating oil paintings that both suggest and depict figurative elements. I am concerned with making work that contains subtle ambiguities, which the viewer can stop, consider, and then attach their own meaning to, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Experimenting with the process and physicality of painting has always been integral to my artistic practice. Exploring the manipulation of paint over different surfaces and using a negative method of applying and removing the paint is important, regardless of the subject matter I choose. I create veiled indistinct scenarios and I am exploring the emotive possibilities that paint has to change the feel and meaning of a scene or situation. I gradually build up layers and veils of paint, creating a depth of surface, while also trying to keep a sense of spontaneity and energy in each mark and line. These are paintings from my time abroad in Vancouver, Canada, as well as at the ECA."