"Real life has surface noise".
I am a Visually Impaired Digital Artist and Photographer challenging pre-conceived notions of what those of us with sight loss can achieve. I have been making photographs and creating art exclusively with mobile devices since 2012. In 2014/15 my solo exhibition ’Seeing The Unseen’ was the first show of its kind in Scotland to consist of work created entirely using an iPhone and iPad.
I devise and deliver mobile photography and digital art workshops, leading courses in Flower Photography (during the Robert Mapplethorpe: TATE Artists Rooms exhibition at Clydebank Art Gallery and Museum), Location Photography, Creative Landscape Photography, Creative Post Processing, Building self esteem through creative self portraits and storytelling (workshops for primary school children) and A Mindful Approach To Mobile Photography.
Since 2017 I have been focused exclusively on creating my own photographic image based work. New and ongoing sight issues continue are forcing me to devise new methods of working and creating.
Visual Impairment and Creativity.
I have only recently been persuaded that I should make myself more known as a visually impaired artist as I have been told that my work and back story have inspired others to pursue creative outlets. Having a visual impairment is not something that I’ve consciously tried to hide, it’s always been there so I’ve never known anything else. I was born blind in one eye and with a multitude of conditions in the other. I have light perception only in one eye, whilst the other has no lens (Aphasia), a damaged retina, damaged iris and a permanently dilated pupil (Mydriasis) in addition to permanent double vision. All of this adds up to having a very high sensitivity to light.
Attempting to hold an iPhone (my camera of choice) and a pocket magnifier in order to take images is an ongoing technical challenge and a physically uncomfortable process.
Photography and Digital Photographic Art and indeed the act of creating art is for me a cathartic and essential practice that helps me to deal with and overcome the limitations that my conditions have imposed upon me.
Art, Music, Photography.
My background is in the independent music industry. In 1982 I launched the 'Pleasantly Surprised; cassette label and in 1985 the 'Cathexis Recordings' record label. Releasing material from Cocteau Twins, Bauhaus, The Birthday Party, Test Dept, Primal Scream, Eric Random, Ludus, Billy MacKenzie, Virginia Astley, Modern English, Sonic Youth, Mark Stewart, Coil, Current 93, Dif Juz, Dance Chapter, The Wolfgang Press, Artery, Band of Holy Joy, Pink Industry, Fini Tribe and many, many more. There was also a period of being a DJ for Scottish pirate radio station ‘Radio Mercury’ and writing reviews and columns for several magazines including ‘Variant’ and ‘Music From The Empty Quarter.’
I produced several editions of ‘Total’ an audio / visual publication covering transgressive art, sound and media that included contributions from Coil, Derek Jarman, Malcolm Poynter, Robert Anton Wilson, Andrew Lagowski, Greater Than One, Boubonese Qualk, Flux, Nocturnal Emissions, Zoviet France and The Anti Group to highlight just a few. I curated 2 volumes of ‘solar: A Music Travelogue’ for the American Solielmoon Recordings label. These featured contributions from, amongst others: Paul Schütze, Tuu, Scanner, Dallas Simpson, Max Eastley, O Yuki Conjugate, Jorge Reyes and Rapoon.
I promoted live music events including the first live performance in Scotland from Test Dept at Sir Henry Wood Hall / Scottish National Orchestra Centre. For a few years I curated events for the New Visions International Film, Video and Media Festival including performances from Ambient masters Tuu and Sound Artist Max Eastley.
I devised the ‘drift’ Sound Art and Acoustic Ecology festivals for the arts organisation New Media Scotland which featured performances, talks and installations by (amongst many others) Max Eastley, David Toop, Dallas Simpson, Greg Wagstaff, John Levack Drever, Michael Prime and Kaffe Matthews. The festival extended to internet streaming of curated themed sound art radio programmes.
For over twenty years I was a freelance Graphic Designer within the arts sector in Scotland working with a broad range of clients including Glasgow School of Art, Pan African Arts, Scottish Academy of Asian Arts, Trongate 103, James Caird Scholarship Trust, Variant Magazine, Matters Magazine, Free Association Magazine, New Media Scotland, Scottish Sculpture Trust, Yorkhill Childrens Hospital / NHS Trust and D.O.R Records.
For sixteen of those years I was based at Street Level Photoworks (a lens based media gallery) in Glasgow and worked with a large number of photographers and artists in prepping their work for exhibition, retouching prints and negatives, formatting work for print, designing exhibition catalogues, publications and the website. Many photographers left a lasting impression and some were inspirational.