Six Foot Gallery is delighted to present its annual spring show, Awakenings, featuring twenty-seven artists working in a diverse range of mediums and disciplines including sculpture, soundscapes, textiles, collage, video, woodturning, jewellery, photography, screenprinting, performance, and painting.

Aileen grew up by the sea. Now a city dweller – based between Edinburgh and Berlin – she loves to play with the colour blue, drawn especially to the richness of sapphires and indigos. Having worked across photography, the written word, and weaving, Aileen picked up a palette knife at 30 after deciding it was not enough for her to only read about female and queer painters. Her kitchen counter is her studio, where she teaches herself how to paint by the midnight oil. 

The politics of slow cities and intersectional feminism underpin Aileen’s creative work: she explores ways for us to settle into easier paces, deeper breaths, and gentler lives in the urban landscapes that are our homes. For her, sustainable creative practices are vital in this endeavour. Aileen’s watercolours, canvases, and weavings adorn walls and nooks in the Highlands, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, London, Poland, Berlin, Maine, and Buenos Aires.

Hi Aileen! How did you arrive at the theme of your work?
I began with a colour – blue, my absolute favourite. Letting myself play, without expectations, the seas came as a natural extension of that. I grew up next to the sea and it’s never left me, even though I live in cities these days. Then the theme arrived with me! I’ve been reading and thinking about Scota for a long time now and it occurred to me that despite the profound absence of knowledge (myth?) about her, we can imagine what she would have seen. And that act of imagining – even the willingness to imagine – is where empathy and openness can be fostered.

What emotions or reactions do you hope viewers experience when they see your artwork?
I don’t think I necessarily hope for any particular emotional response. I know as a viewer
myself that my initial connection to a work of art – just between me and it, before I read any caption or biographical information – exists more on a gut level, a gentle or urgent tug towards a piece, a colour, an aesthetic. But on a political level, I hope my infinite blue horizons encourage viewers to be critical of the borders our government has enforced in our name, using their fiction as an excuse to let people die in the waters surrounding our nations when, in truth, there are plenty of resources for all of us here. Our modern nations owe more to migration than we can afford to lose.

Which artists inspire you?
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Sekai Machache’s handling of the colour indigo and Scottish landscapes since I saw her work in Edinburgh’s Dovecot Gallery last December. Her questioning of who we assume ‘belongs’ in Scotland is timely and important as we work
towards becoming a more self-aware, less exclusionary place. I also love Joan Eardley and her partner Lil Neilson’s seascapes – I feel they come as close as human endeavour can in
capturing the wild and harsh beauty of the North Sea.

Will your next project be a continuation of your current style or are you experimenting with something different?
I am really enjoying my current style, so hope to continue to work with it and see where it
takes me. At the same time, I am very interested in the idea (and practices) of cities which are slower and which hold space for meaningful, safe, happy, healthy, and colourful lives for all of us – I have so many ideas for creative projects on this theme, but to give an example I will be continuing with my cyanotype sun print series of the plants we usually relegate as weeds! The blue aesthetic continues, and I want to keep seeking ways to appreciate the here and the now through creative practices.

What advice would you give to artists just starting out?
I consider myself to be just starting out, so I’ll say here what I tell myself. Don’t worry about
being a ‘serious’ artist. I think the metric of the serious – usually white, usually male, usually
cis, usually having his dinners brought to his quiet, child-free studio by a long-suffering wife
or servant – artist has kept so many other brilliant creatives away from creating and from
putting their efforts forward for display, for recognition, for money. So, get stuck in!

You can read more about Aileen and her work here. Awakenings runs at Six Foot Gallery until Friday 24th May.

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