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The Best Thing to Come Out of Edinburgh is the Train to Glasgow

Foamex, 150cm x 97cm x 20cm, 2021. Exhibited in ‘Graduate Drive Thru’, NCP Glasshouse Car Park Glasgow. Selected for 2022 annual exhibition REVERB at the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh. Featured; BBC Scotland news, STV News and The Skinny 

As a child, I viewed the blue Scottish rail lines and the red English lines running throughout the UK like veins.

During the second lockdown, I was commuting from Edinburgh to Glasgow for work as a key worker. I analysed the relationship between the two cities as I wanted to further develop my view from childhood. Glasgow is an industrial city, reclaimed by creativity and music. Edinburgh is a magically visual city, rich in history. It’s also my place of birth and I find it interesting the ‘posh burd of Scotland’ stereotype it receives from Glasgow. I became fascinated with the rivalry but also the need for one another, so close yet so worldly different.

My studio is my head but I utilised the train carriage on my route to Glasgow for work as an extension of space to create work. Words are material to me so I used my time on the train to create poetry inspired by the Scottish landscape moving past me and I incorporated the one liners people would say on the train. Furthermore, the train carriage became my confidence tool. I created an exercise to ask someone for the time or approach someone regarding the journey, at a two-metre distance of course. A hit or miss exercise that definitely built my ability to approach people, enhancing my social skills.

The red YUPTAE is a nod to the 4am messages occasionally received from a forgotten relation. Those messages make me laugh as they are a huge characteristic of Scottish slang meaning ‘what you up to?’. The blue NOWT is that defensive reply to questions which I believe Scottish people can be at times – defensive and negative. It’s interesting that contrast, a staple theme throughout my work.

This work is about the things you say VS the things you actually want to say, displayed through the means of having the two poems in the foreground only readable when you approach the work closer. I wanted to explore objects assigned to a particular place, then existing in another. The train ticket belongs to the train station so having the tickets placed on a car park allowed me to explore feelings of not quite fitting in but almost in the same realm. The use of ‘YUPTAE’ and ‘NOWT’ reminds us we often have two options when tackling challenging situations in life, we either moan about it or we see the light in the darkness and gravitate towards that. Whilst developing this work I was researching the literature of British philosopher Alain de Botton who I came across through watching YouTube videos on the train. In particular I was fascinated with his importance on emotional education and embracing vulnerability in life and relationships.

Sertaline, Modafinil, Senna and a Coupla Jonnies Pal 

Video Installation, 6ft x 2ft, 2020.Exhibited in ‘Cry and Laugh’ Websters Theatre, Glasgow

Grieving for someone who is not dead I find harder in many ways. Weaving in and out of relationships since I was 15, I adopted an emotional reliance on a partner to give me what I was avoiding to create for myself. Whilst making this work I was processing a break up, feeling like I couldn’t breathe whilst acknowledging the positivity experienced of departing codependency. The dimensions of this work are of a telephone box; an abandoned communication portal I continuously salute as they represent the fragility and vulnerability of life.

The titles of my work always act as a joke with a jab coping mechanism. I’ve always been interested in that contrast of emotions, how something can make you simultaneously laugh but also cry. The exhibition was called: Cry and Laugh.

One TV monitor presented the number 14, which is a sentimental number to me in many ways. The first time I gambled was in a casino in Las Vegas, armed with a set of numbers given to me by my ex to place everything on red. 14 was in that list, which came up consecutively 3 times. I walk out with more money than I walked in with, to put it that way. The rear monitor presented a heart rate hospital monitor in sync with the audio of a looped phone ringing. 


Mixed media installation, 6ft x 2ft, 2020. Exhibited in ‘MESS: From The Barnes to The Civic House‘ Barnes Building, Glasgow

“What is stronger than a human heart, which shatters over and over and still lives” - Rupi Kaur

There is no pain quite like heart break, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. The sleep deprivation, irrational thoughts and actions, crippling stomach pains and uncontrollable crying.

Making this work I had two weeks to the opening of the exhibition. I came across this power net in Mandors fabric shop in Glasgow, fascinated by the skin like quality it had, I wanted to pair this with the harsh welded metal shape I created in the studio.

I often wonder how telephone boxes feel, what it’s like to experience everyone around you moving on with the evolution of technology that’s more advanced. Better phones, better cameras, I think the human existence can relate to telephone boxes in many ways. Sometimes that’s how relationships can end, by one party moving on to something better.

Utilising the feeling of pain into creating or making, beautiful objects can be created; objects that create dialogue and debates regarding difficult topics that are usually skimmed over.

The Person You’re Calling is Unable to Take Your Call

Environmental Installation, 2019

Fragile tape is universally understood for caution of packages that need to be handled with extra care. How does this translate to humans? What are the signs of human fragility? When do we know when to give someone additional care and attention?

In 2019, I wrapped a telephone box handset in fragile tape. During a critique at art school, my tutor initiated conversation around consent when creating environmental art work. After this conversation, I thought about the situations in my life that were non-consensual, throughout my childhood and younger adult life. Children are often told to not say no to adults, this in turn creates people pleasers and people who lack the ability to implement healthy boundaries.

This work comes from the navigating through fragility and the vulnerability of saying no. From a distance, the telephone box hand set is identifiable yet the fragile tape is only clear when the viewer approaches the work. In turn the work aims to reinforce the idea that those individuals who present as strong are often the ones who are battling the most inside.

I’m Burst Mate (Done in)

Mixed media Installation, 2019. Exhibited in ‘Assembly Line’ Pipe Factory, Glasgow

In primary school, a speaker came to discuss prejudices and appearances. They presented two presents, one was wrapped in golden wrapping paper topped with a bow, the other was wrapped in dirty newspaper. The speaker asked the class to select which one had the better present inside, the class agreed that the object wrapped in golden paper would be the best present out of the two. With that the speaker opened the golden wrapped present to reveal a plank of wood. The other present wrapped in dirty newspaper was a bag of sweets. 

I believe I was around 8 years old when this happened and it really stuck with me. That moment began an interest in the motion of appearances not reflecting in interior. ‘All that glitters is not gold’ is a phrase coined by William Shakespear, though dates back in literature from 1220, reinforces the fact that all that appears is not all that seems.

This work explores that theme by the sewn transparent builders sheets revealing the inside of this oversized bear like sculpture. Inside are everyday objects that got me through life at that time; train tickets, pharmacy bags, condoms and bed sheets. Heavy are the legs, yet the arms are thin with hands that spread open for help.