Cloud 9 black and white print

Spring Update

Friday, 30 March 2018 13:11

I made intentions after Christmas and New Year to fufill some long held ambitions. One of these was to make use of art as a therapy. I’m not able to pursue an Masters degree in Art Therapy, much as I would like to, for logistical reasons. The nearest university offering the official course is the other side of Edinburgh and would take me more than a couple of hours to reach. Even on a part-time basis having a four hour (at least) round trip is just not workable for me. 

And I also don’t want to just be an Art Therapist. I have a gallery to run!

So I found an alternative which will allow me to offer therapeutic art sessions here, but without the clinical side of therapy. I am three months into my studies and have completed one art assignment. The theme was Cave Art, which really interested me. I have always had a love of ancient art forms and have travelled extensively in the UK and Europe searching these out. One form in particular which interests me are the Cup and Ring markings we find quite often on rocky outcrops in the north of the UK. 

The Ballochmyle Cup and Ring Marks can be found near Mauchline in East Ayrshire, not too far from my home in Dumfries. 

Quite unusually they have been carved into a vertical wall of rock. Mostly we find these marks on horizontal outcrops. I was intrigued by the way the rock carved lines through the marks themselves and set about replicating the colour and texture of the marks.

I had contemplated using a variety of materials and focused on taking away, rather than adding, to replicate the carving process. However I just couldn’t settle on anything.

I sketched out ideas which I felt would work. A panel was presenting itself to me as the most likely format, so I thought about what I could use to replicate the carvings. Eventually I chose to use felt, especially wools which I felt would have been around at the time the marks were made. Somehow that added to the authenticity of what I was attempting. 

I had felted a picture which I just didn’t like and had cut it in half. I was left with the sky section, all blues and whites, and that seemed to be an excellent base for the rock if I added some sandstone colours. I used merino in predyed colours, all neutral. 

The cup and ring markings were needle felted using natural curly locks, which have a life of their own - springing up from the base. That fibrous nature, I think, adds to the overall effect.

The final panel looks like this. Framing it will present its own challenges!