Art Words

Art Words: Gordon Mitchell

Sandy Papers, 2009

As an artist, Gordon Mitchell is completely focused in a practical sense, but he also admits to being something of a dreamer.

Sandy Papers was imagined while on holiday on North Uist. The Western Isles are always a great source of inspiration as the summer days are long, there are few distractions, and the wide open spaces need filled with little scenarios. In 2007 and 2009, we rented the same cottage and our nearest neighbour happened to be the island’s librarian. A big yellow van boldly sporting the words Leabharlaan’ sat outside the cottage, and over a period of four weeks, seemed to have a life of its own. There was no obvious pattern, it would be there, then it was gone, but mostly it seemed to be there and always on the Sabbath. I would imagine all sorts of scenarios. Does he lend CDs and DVDs? Does he deliver mail, sell fish? Is it a front for something mysterious? I felt that the van could certainly be used for something else. Add a stove, give it another dimension, use it for pleasure. In my painting, the librarian has done just that, and found himself stranded on a Sunday morning, unable to move so will just have to relax into a day of bliss in a fabulous place contemplating whatever. But really, it is the final vision that matters to me most. Half the time, a few words conjure up an unlikely image, half the time it will be something I’ve seen. On this occasion it was visual. I struggled with the title, had a couple of small sherries and eventually substituted Sunday for Sandy. I’m not too specific with my titles as onlookers often see things differently and come up with much better stories and ideas.
PS I love books.

Born in Edinburgh in 1952, Gordon Mitchell trained at Edinburgh College of Art and was elected member of the RGI (Royal Glasgow Institute) in 1998.

Article by writer Heather MacLeod

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