During the summer of 2015 I started a series of camping paintings. At each new campsite I will adapt the tent paintings in response to the site. During the first trip, I used a Eureka kitchen tent (c1964) and attached additional pieces of custom-fitted canvas scrim. I camped at Lake Superior Forest Park and North Gemini Lake Forest Park, both on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. January – March 2016, I worked on the West Coast of the South Island in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the West Coast of the United States, using a Eureka Draw-tite mountaineering tent (c1954). In August 2016 I worked between the Moray Coast and Isle of Harris. In December 2018 and January 2019 I worked in Kahurangi National Park. At first these locations were based around where I was living and could easily drive to – I had been applying for dozens of open-call residencies and exhibition opportunities without success and was keen to create my own residency. I became interested in the settler-colonial histories of “the West” in both the United States and Aotearoa New Zealand, my own family origins on the Moray Coast of Scotland, and the oceans that connect those coastlines.
Camping Paintings is informed by parallel histories of plein air painting—popularised within the leisure-time of modernism—alongside markers of the anthropocene. Current thinking reassembles landscape: from something to be consumed toward something we are a part of—not apart from. Camping Paintings involves personal investigation of what it means to be in a particular site or situation via the medium (and shelter) of painting. Working on this project, I researched histories of camping as a settler-colonial practice, and as part of transitory modes of living or surviving. More personal narratives include my grandmother’s painting practice. Often unfinished small-scale plein air works made while watching children: riverbanks, beaches, backyards. An intimate and lifelong engagement with the North Otago landscape, not valued within a national art world, she exhibited at the North Otago Art Society, at home, and through home-made greeting cards.
I began Camping Paintings in 2015, a time where consciousness of climate change had become material. Perhaps since 2011, people have been experiencing climate change personally, intimately, within the weather systems that move through their landscapes.
Camping Painting is adaptive at the level of its internal composition and how that intersects and interacts with the external one—the immediate landscape—and within the frame of the camera. With heightened sense of physical exposure, the composition also adapts to changing conditions like light and wind.
Camping Paintings happen over time, painted three and four-dimensionally, with multiple perspectives.
This is an ongoing project and I’ll update this page after future trips.
Kahurangi National Park, 2018-2019
August 16-24 2016
Moray Coast, Isle of Harris and Isle of Lewis, Scotland
Near Huisinis, Isle of Harris, Scotland
Roseisle Sand Dunes, Moray Coast
Roseisle Sand Dunes, Moray Coast
Bow Fiddle Rock near Cullen, Moray Coast Trail
March 23 – 24 2016
Cape Blanco, Oregon, USA
Gorsey / Gorsea (Ulex Europaeus) – colonizer extraordinaire, Cape Blanco, Oregon
March 18 – 19 2016
Salmon River Trail, Mt Hood, Oregon, USA
March 15 – 16 2016
Mt Tom Creek, Hoh River Trail, Washington, USA
February 23 – 26, 2016
Spanish Flat, Lost coast Trail, Northern California, USA
February 14 – 17, 2016
Buck Creek, Lost coast Trail, Northern California, USA
January 23-24, 2016
Lake Daniell, Lewis Pass, Aotearoa New Zealand
January 20-21, 2016
Blue River (Blowfly) Hut, South Westland, NZ
January 14-15, 2016
Hans Bay at Lake Kaniere, West Coast, NZ
Lake Superior Forest Park Campsite, Luce County, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
More images from the U.P. trip here