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.

Dougie is a musician living and working in North Ayrshire. His work is largely in the realm of electronic music but incorporates a lot of found sounds, field recordings, and various other eclectic sources of audio. He draws inspiration from many artistic disciplines, using ideas from written and visual artworks as a jumping off point for creating music and soundscapes.

Fee is a writer and mixed media artist from North Ayrshire, and the Director here at Six Foot Gallery.

You can listen to the full soundscape from their collaborative work, House of Asterion, here.

Hi guys! Can you tell us how your artistic journey started?

Dougie: I began writing and recording music at the same time I first started learning to play an instrument. I started out working on tape, a medium I recently returned to, but my music is almost exclusively computer based now. I’ve played in a few bands over the years, most notably the heavy rock four piece Bacchus Baracus, but my main focus has always been various styles of electronic music and I’ve recently begun releasing some of it. This exhibition is the first time I’ve had a piece in a gallery.

Fee: I’ve never not been creative. As a child I was always sketching and painting and assembling various bits of rubbish together to make rudimentary sculptures, which were usually quickly ushered into the bin. These days, our home is a creative melting pot where anything goes. I’ve explored every medium and discipline I can think of, often alongside my kids as they’ve grown into artists themselves, and it took me years to fully understand that I don’t have to place any limits on myself and my art. I was stuck for a long time on whether I should paint OR sculpt, until the mantra I’d been repeating ad infinitum to my weans finally sunk in to my own brain: why not both? Now I let the work lead, and go wherever it takes me.

How did you arrive at the theme of your work?

Dougie: The piece in Awakenings is a collaboration based around the myth of the Minotaur and the labyrinth. Fee and I are both fascinated by the story and its different versions and permutations as it’s told and retold by different authors. Coming together to create a visual and audio piece inspired by something that is typically written words was a challenge but it also gave us a lot of space to play around.

Fee: I’ve carried the story of the Minotaur and the lost labyrinth of Knossos with me for as long as I can remember, and the symbolism of it has grown more and more important to me as I’ve gotten older. When Dougie and I started playing with the idea of collaborating on a sculptural soundscape, I knew right away what it was going to look like.

Can you walk us through your creative process?

Dougie: The hardest part of any work, and this is probably true for most artists across all mediums, is the blank page, so I usually start with anything at all, a new bit of software I want to try, or something that makes a good noise, and get some sort of sound in place as soon as I can. Once it’s there and I have something to work around and to suggest where to go next it becomes much easier, it’s far easier to add to and subtract from something than it is to create wholesale. I never know when I start a piece what it is going to sound like when I finish.

Fee: It’s mostly procrastinating. I’m a gatherer: I make a lot of notes, I take a lot of photos, I have fifty tabs of tangentially related stuff open in my browser at any one time, literally and metaphorically. This mental composting continues until I have a clear idea in my head of what I want the end product of the work to be and what the path looks like to get there, then it’s full steam ahead, using every spare minute until the piece is finished. Sculptural work, for me, is always meditative, particularly this type of paper mache work. I get great satisfaction from tearing up newspapers and manipulating each scrap until it softens and yields under my brush.

Which artists inspire you? Are there non-artistic influences such as literature or music that impact your work?

Dougie: My main inspiration for being here, exhibiting this, is Elizabeth Price. I saw her installation SLOW DANS at the GoMA and it opened me up to a whole range of different things I could do with sound beyond just creating songs, which is a structure I’ve often struggled with. I think I’m good at what I do but what I do isn’t songwriting. Having that scope broadened for me has changed how I think about making music. My musical influences are wide ranging but the main ones would be The Flashbulb, Clouddead, and Nine Inch Nails.

Fee: I love books, and the greatest influence on my work always comes from what I’ve read. The legendary Jorge Luis Borges’s House of Asterion and Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves were hugely influential on this particular work, and indeed on the rest of my life. I also love Nancy Azara and Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculptural works, mixed-media artists like Russell Mills and Mark Bradford, and Rachel Pollack’s art and writing are never far away.

How do you know when a piece is complete?

Dougie: I have a finely honed system of adding to a piece until there’s too much in there, then cutting back anything that’s unnecessary, and then I listen to it so much that I’m thoroughly sick of it and I have to call it done because I can’t do anything else with it! Because I work on the computer, nothing is destroyed and everything can be changed. It would be easy to never finish anything because there’s always the possibility of making it better, so I have to be sensible about it and set an artificial deadline at which point it needs to be done. I don’t always stick to those because I don’t have to, but setting them definitely helps.

Fee: Dougie pointed out to me the other day that nothing I make is considered finished until I’ve included the holy trinity of text, stitching, and a wandering line, and I can’t really argue with that.

What emotions or reactions do you hope viewers experience when they see and hear your artwork?

Dougie: The initial idea with the audio part of the piece was to try to capture the feeling of the labyrinth – oppressive and large and almost-but-not-quite empty. Adding the reading of House of Asterion by Borges (kindly read for us by Antero Duarte – thanks Antero!) completely changed the focus. I had been thinking of the labyrinth with the Minotaur in the background, but this brought the Minotaur in as the main focus. The story is an incredible take on the myth and I wanted to capture some of that in the sound and the music. I hope people who hear it feel the hope and the sadness in the story by the end of it, in contrast to the fear and oppression of the beginning.

Fee: I hope people who are passing by our labyrinth will be persuaded to press pause on their day for the seven minutes the soundscape runs for, letting their eyes wander along the red thread that runs through the sculpture, maybe taking some deep breaths as they follow its path while the incessant noise and urgency of everyday life are blocked out by Antero’s soporific voice. I hope they’ll come away from it having gained some much needed brain space, because brain space is so important. I also hope they’ll join me in appreciating what an absolute fucking genius Dougie is, because his work is incredible and he deserves so much more recognition for it.

You can find out more about Dougie and his work here. Find Fee at her Instagram or her website, or pop into Six Foot Gallery and say hello! Awakenings runs at the gallery until tomorrow, Friday 24th May.

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