A letter to Dundee

I was five years younger when I first moved to Dundee. My face was five years fresher and I was unaware of all the incredible people I would meet during those next five years. People that have changed the way that I think about myself, the world and art.
A pink sky over Dundee, looking out from Wasps studios.
A pink sky over Dundee, looking out from Wasps studios.
In Dundee I encountered so many people who are passionately working to craft their own part of the world. No one ever asked me to create there, but yet I felt encouraged to. I felt compelled to, as I was surrounding by people who were constantly making.

Continue reading “A letter to Dundee”

Flying Through Clouds

There are a few moments when flying that are truly magical. They are found after the inevitable strip of boots & belts at security, after the tiring queue to board and the bumbling walk down the aeroplane aisle. These moments are imminent as you clasp your seatbelt closed, the plane starts to move and the repetitive safety drill finishes…

The moments that I find truly magical start when the plane lifts off the ground into the sky. It is at this point I can gaze down in awe as the familiar world below becomes smaller and smaller. As I move farther away, I gain a new perspective at which to see the details that shape the landscape below – until the plane breaks through a sea of clouds and the familiar world disappears. In its place is a magical landscape of fluffy white clouds. My mind at this point feels like a child and I gaze on in innocent wonder at these amazing fluffy floating things, that just become even more enchanting the more that you look.

I understand the theory and physics of both the clouds and the plane flying within them, but the reality of flying through the clouds still manages to blow my mind just a little. I’m glad that it does. Such experiences shouldn’t get tiring. Although it is hard to remain in awe for the full span of a 20 hour flight, it is worth remembering to open your eyes and look out the window at the cloudy world outside at least at the point of taking off. As there is a somewhat magical world of clouds lurking just outside.


 

Just a few random words I wrote this summer whilst on holiday and am only just finding the time to post now. Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson

Making Marks in the Sand

Love sunny days 🙂 last of my sand writing for today #words #sand #beach #writing

A photo posted by Hazel (@hazler_06) on

Sometimes the most simple actions are the most rewarding.

Sometimes the most natural views are the most satisfying.

Reflections of the clouds in the water #sea #beach #water #reflections #photo

A photo posted by Hazel (@hazler_06) on

Sometimes it is nice to know that the mark you make is not permanent.

I recently spent a good few hours wandering around St Andrews beach and I was looking for excuses not to leave. So I made a small H in the sand. Marking my spot gave me an excuse to stay a little longer. There is something wonderful about making marks in sand. It is a flexible and responsive surface that allows you to play, build and write without any pressure. With the knowledge that your marks in the sand will be somewhat fleeting.

Sometimes it is nice to do the obvious.

The first mark made me want to write more… So I decided to write a few basic beach instructions, with the vague hope that someone might find them and follow them. They are not groundbreaking requests. They are probably the most obvious thing you can do on a beach. However, sometimes it is easy to forget to do the obvious and it can be nice to get a reminder.

The complete set of instructions 🙂 I enjoyed following them #beach #words #writing #scotland

A photo posted by Hazel (@hazler_06) on

Continue reading “Making Marks in the Sand”

WALK THIS WAY

WALK THIS WAY.

I saw this sign the other day and it made me smile and think. It was not directing me to go in the direction of anything specific, but out of curiosity I decided to follow it. I walked to the left as the sign directed and I found myself with a low wall to my left and stacks of fishing nets to my right, beyond the wall was a small river and to right of the nets was the boat filled harbour. It was a pleasant little detour and enjoyed peering over the wall at the water below and photographing the twists and turns in the nets.  I walked until I reached the point at which the water that had been on either side of me met and I discovered I was at a dead end. I guess I could have jumped in the water, I do like swimming, but on this occasion I decided that the best option was to turn around and come back.

Upon returning past the sign and subsequently walking in the opposite direction to the arrow, I began to question the intentions of the original sign maker/hanger/instigator. I began to wonder whether they had hoped to encourage people to take the time to walk up this underused path at the harbour, or had simply hoped to discourage people from walking a different route. I questioned what people would do if the sign did not exist and whether it was a positive or negative addition to the space. I didn’t come to any particular conclusions, as this questioning happened in the space of a few seconds inside my head before I was distracted by the waft of fresh fish and chips.

I am constantly curious about the number of words that exist in our built environment. A number of these words come in the form of signage, but signs don’t need to be formal structures. In fact, I often wonder if people are so used to the formal qualities of official signs that they become rather blind to them, that or they subconsciously submit to them. I saw a lot of signs when I was walking around New York earlier this year and yet these words ‘NO LOITERING’ that were chalked into a stairway were the ones that stood out to me. Perhaps they stood out, as at the exact moment I spotted them I must have been loitering in some way and they caught me in the act as I turned to look directly at them. It was as if these words had preempted that the spot in front of their appartment was the one that I would take to rest for a minute after walking for hours.

I guess that is what most signs do, they run through possible scenarios for a specific place or space and then they try to guide people in what is deemed as the best way to navigate. I think most signs have good intentions, and sometimes signs in the form of identification and navigation are definitely necessary.

However, sometimes it is also nice to decide for yourself which way to walk, as it can make the simplest journeys in life seem just a little bit more like an adventure.

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson

Damn Water

It always starts with just one drop of water upon a Scottish hillside.

This drop stumbles around until it joins many more drops and starts to create a trickle of energy, an energy that will gather momentum as it flows downhill on a quest to reach the big blue sea. As all the energetic small drops gather speed, they start to gush out of gulleys in small streams and crash against rocks. All that noise is actually the drops incessant screeching about the rumours they have heard about the big blue sea, their excited shouts about the vast mass of energy they have heard exists in the ocean.

What these drops don’t know yet is that there are some obstacles between them and the deep ocean space. There are systems and structures set up to direct the way these different drops flow through the land, pushing them this way and that along the way. The biggest obstacle is the dam. The dam ensures many drops are held in the vast resevoir basin. This basin is beautiful, surrounded by sweeping hills and lofty forests. There is a wonderful and inviting sense of calm in the basin, which many of the water drops will enjoy for a long long time. Some may find they are happy there forever.

Yet, in this calm beautiful basin there is also a struggle going on below. As below the calm surface there are drops being pulled into the generator which leads to the flowing river below. Some drops are pushing out as they want to explore beyond the basin and other drops are pulling in as they are afraid of the rumours they hear about the wild waterfall on the other side.

The drops that are pulled into the generator will momentarily experience a brilliant sense of power. As they crash down with thousands of other drops in a chaotic cloud like mass, the instant transformation from calm to chaos will give them enough momentum to carry on with their quest to reach the big blue sea.

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson

 

Fun a Day 2014: One Word

I was one of the organisers of the art project Fun-a-Day Dundee in 2014. The Fun a Day project encouraged people in Dundee to add an element of creative fun to the 31 days in January and then packed an exhibition full of all that fun. The diverse collection of art work in the exhibition displayed the need for everyone to make more time for fun and the collective power that a series of small actions can have. Knowing that I would have a busy month, but still keen to create a personal project during the month as part of Fun a Day – I decided to experiment with video. Last year I chose a word a day and cut it into paper. This year I asked other people for a word a day and I recorded it in film. This short film is the result.

Completing the ‘One Word’ project made me question whether one word can effectively describe an element of your day and how difficult it is to pick just one word.

This was a project that sometimes surprised me with its ease and other days frustrated with its struggle. From the offset it was interesting to see how the project puzzled some of my closest friends and yet some of the strangers I asked were very open to it. Mostly they were amused (or bemused by it), they questioned the point of it and how I planned to put the short shots together, but almost everyone agreed to indulge me and offer me a word. Continue reading “Fun a Day 2014: One Word”

New York in the Snow

All of the days were cold on my recent trip. The air was fresh, but the skies were blue and the sun shone brightly.

Apart from one day in New York, when the sky turned white and drop upon drop of snow fell down in a flurry of activity that ceased to stop for a moment or run out of energy for an entire day. The falling snow added a new sense of time to the streets, as it fell in fast flurries yet it slowed everything down. Cars ceased speeding and instead started to crawl. As the snow fell it nipped at my cheeks and forced me to pull my scarf up to cover my nose and my hood down to my loom over my eyes. As I breathed into my scarf, my glasses started to steam up on the inside as the snow made wet droplets on the outside. The snow storm blurred my vision and transformed the city in one swift movement.

snowbencheds

The next day I woke up to blue skies again, I woke up to cold air again, but everything otherwise looked different. Benches were draped in sparkly white blankets and you suddenly had new choices to consider when walking down the street – opt for the cleared walkway or delve into the untouched snowy section of the pavement.

snow1

You suddenly found snow hiding in unexpected places, hiding from the bright sun in an effort to stay crisp on these cold days.

snow3

You found iced up lakes in Central Park and snowballs sitting atop it it proudly.

snow4

The cold meant putting on layer upon layer of clothing was a necessity. The cold meant I learned not to trust my visual weather barometer, as the blue skies were deceiving and on the few occasions I opted for less layers I quickly came to regret it. As real cold has a way of setting in when you are walking around the city for hours. The fresh air has a way hitting bare flesh quickly and sharply. The fresh air has a way of navigating in between the creases of your clothing just to quickly and sharply hit any bare flesh it finds. The fresh air has a way of knocking the warm air out of you. It can make you gasp at its ability to make such an impact.

snow5

I found the only good solution too the cold was multiple layers and silly hats. Layers of merino wool, layers of soft fleece, layers of down filled coats, layers of bubbly wool scarves, layers of long socks… that carefully overlapped to ensure that I was wrapped up tighter than a perfectly crafted parcel. Sometimes, it is actually quite nice that it is so cold that you get to put all of these layers on. There is a real sense of satisfaction that you can attain by wrapping yourself up in such a manner. As the cold wind snapped and I pulled my hood up, its furry edge blocked my field of vision so I had to focus on what was in the smaller than usual viewing space, or I had to purposefully turn my head if I wanted to look at something or speak to someone. The cold meant I also had a reason to sample a good selection of hot chocolate. It was a real treat to see New York in the snow.

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson

N is for NILK

Are you going to Nilk? This was a question I asked a number of people this summer and on the most part the response was resoundingly YES! With just a few queries of – what is Nilk? So for the uninitiated – Nilk is a micro music festival that combines music, film and art and is held at Dundee’s Botanic Gardens.

Organisers (Paul Gault and Craig Gallacher) teamed up with the Rusty Hip Collective (an exciting new collective championing Dundee’s live music scene) and Ickle Film Festival (an independent, artist led short film festival in Dundee) to ensure 2013’s festival bounced back with a bang!

This combination meant that they welcomed a few hundred people to a truly unique event to enjoy a carefully curated selection of electronic music, live bands and fascinating films – all with the added extra that it didn’t rain a drop!

nilk4

I respect the way Nilk Festival manages to maintain a unique balance with the space it inhabits. This not to be sniffed at – even if the attendee numbers are much smaller than large festivals – the atmosphere at Nilk encouraged people to explore the beautiful surrounds of the stunning botanic gardens rather than trash them.

nilk, festival, scotland, dundee, 2013, micro festival, uk

Perhaps it was the addition of this colourful (and indestructible) Pinnata by artist Camila Richardson that ensured any tension could be taken out on it! I also liked the addition of the other striking N’s that populated the site – this one below was illustrated N by Jen Collins and there was another floating structure crafted by Roy Shearer.

Nilk, Dundee, Festival, 2013, Scotland, Dundee, music, rusty hip collective, ickle film festival

I am definitely no expert when it comes to discussing the musical content…

However, the highlights for me this year were definitely Golden Teacher, their energy was infectious and I loved their eclectic mix of acoustic and electronic sounds. They also did a brilliant job of working through a minor electrical black-out with rogue phone strobe lights, their bongos and their energy to keep the crowd entertained until the boys managed to re-wire a plug fuse in the dark! They have just released their second 12” on Glasgow’s Optimo Music label and they are definitely a group I would like to see live again.

nilk, dundee, festival, scotland, uk, 2013, micro festival, nilk festival

I caught just a little of The Strangers Almanac in The Rusty Hip cabin, but I really like the sounds this duo create and I must admit that Ten Feet Tall has been featuring regularly on my playlist for over a month now… I love the part when the sound of the strings kick in.

There was also a ton of other good music being played during the day, but my memory wanes and I won’t go into detail about them all.

Other fun highlights included the awesome motion graphics by Duncan Barton.

nilk, dundee, festival, scotland, 2013, micro festival, nilkfestival

Infusing balloons with LEDs and hanging them from the trees in the afternoon…

nilk, dundee, festival, scotland, 2013, micro festival, nilkfestival

nilk, dundee, festival, scotland, 2013, micro festival, nilkfestival

and subsequently watching their glow emerge from the darkness as the evening progressed!

N is for Nilk

What a lovely way to spend a Saturday in September. I hope they do it again next year!

+ Nilk Festival

+ Rusty Hip Collective

+ Ickle Film Festival

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson