Annie Cattrell: inspirational elements

Annie Cattrell, From Within, Cast Silver 2007

On Tuesday this week I met Annie Cattrell; artist, lecturer and a genuinely lovely person. I sat in the background and listened whilst Cathy (Exhibitions Officer for the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery) drove us around the shores of Loch Ness looking for inspiration for Annie’s next sculpture.

I listen.

I listen to Annie talking about her work and I watch the hills, the water, the trees, the rocks, the colours, textures and patterns of this journey…and I just listen.

My last sculpture is now finished. I say my last only in the sense that I am almost finished for this semester, and somehow through the tears and the tantrums, I have finished it. I suppose it is fitting that it gave me unexpected challenges: it is after all a piece that responds to a public art project and public art is inherently fraught with challenges and delays.

Annie inhabits a space that hovers between art and science and much of her work focuses on the transient offerings of this Earth. I have been researching neurons and the way in which they fire when visually stimulated, changing the chemical balance in the brain and releasing dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins that all play a role in our mental health.

As I stand here looking at my own work, I can hear my very good friend Vicky’s words: “You don’t know what you don’t know”… and there in a nutshell is my problem. It’s the knowing of something that helps us to grow. So, I look at the colours revealed by the cleaning and polishing and the colours of the natural patina and I think about the interface between the permanence of the copper and the ephemeral nature of the colours on its surfaces.

I think about the symmetry between the copper and the external forces that act upon its surfaces; the colours that are on those surfaces and the visual stimuli that excite the brain and produce imperceptible responses that dictate mood and I think about the direction of time flow…ever forwards, ever moving…

Flow: Verb, to move in a continuous and smooth way.  To move, come, or go continuously in one direction.

This sculpture is about the continuous breathing of the river; the continued struggle that we face to maintain positive mental health and the knowledge that we often lose sight of moving forward and letting go of the things that drag us down.

Looking outside of myself to others for inspiration or a different way of being changes the way I respond to my environment to enable me to relate to my surroundings from an alternative viewpoint and ultimately that’s how I see the role of public art: to enhance our experience of time and place.