Rosie & Gill

My friend Rosie Lesso who I have known since we studied at Edinburgh College of Art together a few moons ago is an amazing visual artist. We just got news that together we are going to be part of the Cupar Arts Festival in October 2013. I’ll do the writing, Rosie will do the art; we’re putting a book together which I’ll talk about in another blog post soon.

Rosie is also creating another book as part of the ‘Sky Bound’ project which is part of another arts festival called North Light in Dunbar, Scotland.

To find out more about the upcoming book for the Sky Bound project and to get more insight into how words and art can interact I did an interview with Rosie and here it is in full:

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What is your background etc?
I am an artist based in Scotland. Drawing is my main interest, and I like to try and stretch the boundaries of what the term means. I am interested in the informality of the word drawing; it implies less permanence than say, painting or sculpture. More recently I have also worked on a number of participatory projects like this one for North Light; I also do part time and freelance education work and this kind of project has meant I can explore and overlap educational elements with my own practice.

2. Can you tell us about the project for the poetry book?

The poetry book is the second part of a binary project called Sky Bound, for the North Light Festival in Dunbar. The first part was a series of interventions; 5 graphic road signs featuring flying gannets, which are very dominant in Dunbar, were spread across the town. A location map was distributed, encouraging locals to walk the route and think about travel, flux and migration. Alongside this I also put three poetry boxes out in Dunbar, with a call out to locals and other writers from Scotland to create or contribute short poems on the theme of migration. In its two month duration 35 poems were submitted. Poets include Ken Cockburn, Angus Reid, Colin Will and Lesleymay Miller. The next stage is to select and refine and create a permanent hard back book featuring the poems and my own art work, for official launch in early June next year.

3. How does the book fit in with the North Light festival?
This is the first year the North Light festival has run, with funding from a variety of sources including Creative Scotland. The purpose was to engage and bring together the local community with a variety of site specific, environmental art works celebrating the character of the location. I hope my project has contributed to the festival in that way and drawn some parallels with other artists’ projects too. The book will be launched next year in early June 2013, so it also creates a legacy from one year to the next.

4. What is the goal of the book?
The book will become a lasting archive of the 2012 festival and be stored permanently in a location in Dunbar, to be confirmed. It brings together voices including artists, poets, and local writers who were in Dunbar at that moment in time, and who have responded to a theme so relevant to Dunbar with its constant flow of birds to and from the sea, so a document of time and place.

5. How do you see your drawings working alongside the poetry for the book?
I think there are many parallels to be found between drawing and poetry as both can have a fragile, papery quality. I once read a quotation somewhere that said writing poems was like dropping leaves onto a highway, and I thought the same could be said of making a certain type of drawing. The plan is to create black and white drawings or etchings for the book which will have a condensed use of visual language and an ambiguity similar to that found in many of the poems, hopefully leaving more room for multiple interpretations.

6. Why did you chose poetry/short prose?
I chose poetry partly for some of the reasons outlined above, but also just because I love reading poems myself, particularly short poems which use language in a very economical or abstract way. The theme of migration is quite open so I saw abstract possibilities in it for poetry. I was also aware there are a number of poets living in Dunbar, or who would be involved in North Light and this would be a great opportunity to meet and work with them.

Rosie Lesso
Rosie Lesso
Road sign featuring a flying gannet in Dunbar, part of the North Light Festival