Archive for April, 2009

The Finished Show Visuals and Review

April 12, 2009

Press and Journal Piece:

North visitor centre hosts off-beat display
Published: 11/04/2009

A NEW art exhibition is open to the public today, after it was officially opened last night.

Studio 1824 is at Helmsdale Ice House until May 17, and marks the end of the two-year artist-in-residence programme at Timespan, and is the first in a series of three exhibitions. The works, by Chris Dooks, were commissioned and curated by Timespan’s youth arts group, led by Ruth Macdougall. Mr Dooks said a linguistic survey sound recording from 1964, featuring fisherman Neil MacKay and wife Mary, nee Sutherland, had never been heard by their next of kin.
He said : “A knitting group helped me track them down. “Using the acoustics in Helmsdale’s Ice House, I shaped music from the recordings, adding fresh elements to create a mini album of ‘folktronica’ with accompanying photographic cover art.”

The project became a “netlabel”, – a live electronic concert, community workshops and a gallery exhibition.

Heather Macdonald from the youth group said they chose Mr Dooks because they liked his enthusiasm and the originality of his ideas. She said: “Working with Chris was a good experience. He took interest in other peoples ideas, and his positive attitude made things even more interesting. “The sound workshop shed a whole new light on the different styles of music and how they can be made. “I’m sure Studio 1824 will be innovative and thought-provoking as well as interesting and enjoyable, exactly what is needed to bring the icehouse into the spotlight.” The exhibition is on from Monday to Saturdays, 10am to 5pm, and Sundays, noon to 5pm.


The performance is today!

April 10, 2009

Hi folks! At 6.30pm you are all invited to SCALES, at Helmsdale Ice House! It lasts just over 30 minutes (1824 minutes to be exact) followed by a photographic show at Timespan. Free chocolates and wine!

FREEZE-FRAME! Amsterdam Artist makes proud

April 7, 2009

Every so often you come across a stranger on the internet, that you call out to, rattle a knee-jerk phrase to, or send a request to – and let the ether take care of encrypted delivery down the wire, up to satellites and into a near-anonymous in-tray. At least if you are me you do. I am forever looking for collaborators that come up with the goods, that actually, you know, run with it, and that spend minutes of this finite life coming up with something really worthwhile. Tonight was the culmination of one of those occurrences where the internet just WORKS. Because t’internet is only as good as the DNA either side of two keyboards. If the funders of this project read this, and I hope they do, I want to them to know how tonight, the project just got amazing value for money. We owe an artist big-time.

So… I met this artist either on facebook or linkedin. I’ve had a bottle of Zinfandel tonight so I can’t really remember. Don’t judge the wine. If I am honest, I was a little disappointed by my recent lack of audiences to shows. I type this text in a village of 900 in the far east corner of Caledonia. There’s an opening on Friday. We’ll be lucky to get 20 or 30 – but if you are reading this, you might make it 21 or 31. Mind you, I’ve been impressed by Sutherland audiences before. If you can read this text you are invited.

OK. I set up a record label.

The label is for recordings about, or made in, Helmsdale Icehouse. I am now expanding my rules a little to say it can include other icehouses. It will primarily be a netlabel. is launched this coming Friday. is the end of my residency, this week in Helmsdale Icehouse. But I will manage the label after the end of my residency.

I’ve been to the village of three times now. One of those times was a month. And I wanted this record label to release these recordings I have made from a 1964 cassette recording of a fisherman called Neil MacKay. And it is. Lots of it. But I have also made it global. At least European.

Shailoh Phillips is about my age and works as a Researcher and screenwriter at VPRO Television in Amsterdam. She has made for me “a short underground film and audio piece. Literally underground.” Her words. And it was. Underground. Sort of. She found an icehouse near Amsterdam. She found musicians. She got in. She was good to her word. She made a superb professional recording of this collaboration by writing lovely lyrics and making a film I am jealous of and then posting it on youtube. She’s a do-er. I am actually slightly moved, well, no, moved that someone would find time in their week to write words, music, use their creative network and a no-bullshit approach for free, for me and you, to make a wonderful piece about an icehouse at her end of the world. I will be screening this piece on Friday night at the opening in Helmsdale. I want her to come and be part of it.

I just want to say Thank you miss Phillips. I haven’t posted to this blog in a few weeks. I feel rough. I had to take a half day off work today. But I suddenly feel a lot better. This is great, confident work.

We have never met.