Valerie Gillies: My creative practice is part of a continuum of experience gained over several decades. Poetry has become my way of life, whether composing or combining it with the work of other artists, or encouraging others to use the reading and writing of poetry as a medium for their recovery of health.
Ideally, my own writing practice takes place outdoors. On long poetic journeys where I’ve followed the River Tweed or the River Tay on foot, or where I’ve set out to discover the source of springs on mountain or moorland, I try to become ‘a pair of boots and a pencil’ (Tim Robinson). I condense this first-hand experience into poems where the rhythm and the words take the reader far beyond the page.
Deeply ecological, the writing conveys the inner dimension of living beings, of the plants, animals, birds and humans I encounter. I am versatile enough to employ a full range of poetics, from a brief imagist observation to the traditional mastery of varied metre.
Rebecca Marr: My practice is research-based, often resulting from conversations, collaborations or discoveries. My photographic artwork can be analogue, digital or hybrid processes. I like working in the darkroom, whether it be traditional printing, processes like photograms, or as a starting point for digital work. I have begun working with printmaking techniques.
My work is dominated by the natural world and in particular plants, seaweeds, sea and clouds. I create artworks that offer some understanding of the form and shape of flora, sea or clouds but also hope to communicate something beyond identification, something towards a sense of its being and how I relate to it. I enjoy the tension present in photography: it is a scientific medium with which to record accurately, yet at the same time a medium with which to interpret the subject creatively.
Valerie was born in Canada, studied in India and now lives in Edinburgh. Rebecca was born in the Highlands, studied in Edinburgh and now lives in Orkney.
Valerie and Rebecca met in the mid nineties working in the Royal Edinburgh Psychiatric Hospital with Artlink. Artist Kirsty Lorenz brought them together for workshops and soon after they embarked on a year long collaboration. ‘Men & Beasts’ became a touring exhibition and a publication in 2000. They have continued their friendship and support for each other over the years. Two decades later they come together for another year-long collaboration, this time among the grasses of Scotland.