In January 2023 I started a conversations project during my residency at Applecart Arts. I sit down and have a conversation of approximately one hour with someone I am interested to have a conversation with. Whilst there might be particular things I am interested in, I don’t have questions planned in advance and what happens is organic. Whilst we talk, I paint. What I share here is the painted/drawn outcome of the conversation. Afterwards, I write up my reflections which come from the conversation. Then, they go into my gallery of conversations, which you have found yourself in here…
Ewan Morrison is an artist based in Manor Park. We met when we were stall neighbours at a local market. He makes architectural illustrations, of local buildings as well as taking commissions from around the world, often of people’s houses. He is also a photographer and I love seeing his photos, particularly around his original home in the Scottish Highlands. After we were neighbours that first time, we also both did Christmas markets outside Tracks in Forest Gate, in -2 degree weather.
I really like speaking with Ewan, I find he has an understated humour which I enjoy and for some reason I feel I can be quite direct with him, in a way that I don’t feel with most people after not knowing them for very long. We also have similar ongoing quandaries between art made for other people (like commissions), and things we do that are for ourselves (that we make because we feel like it and we may or may not share on social media). Also, whether we would like art to be our primary source of income or have employed jobs and the commissions are something on the side that we can be more choosy about taking on. Also conversations about valuing and pricing our work and how much we actually pay ourselves per hour when we take out the costs of making something. I put my portrait prices up in January after realising how low this amount was (much less than minimum wage).
During our meeting in Applecart, we talked about the freedom that we had as children and the importance for each of us in having spaces and time for art when we were little. In his house growing up, they had a playroom which was used for art stuff. I said how since I’ve re-started painting over the past year, I’ve realised how important this was for me as a kid. When I started painting again, a year ago, I had these paint memories come back, in the way it can behave and some of the techniques I like to play around with. He said how his niece doesn’t have an art or music teacher and we talked about how sad that is, that they are seen as luxuries rather than necessities.
We talked about his recent trip to Scotland and some of the places he’d taken photographs of, including Kylesku Bridge and the pink house on Loch Glass. The bridge had been built the same year he was born. (I like stuff like that, when I look at years of things happening/being built, I often think of it in relation to my own year of birth, like as if I’m Jesus. I wonder if lots of people do that.) I asked to see some of his photos of the bridge. He did, and I said how I liked the curve of it and he said he thought it was amazing how it fits in with the landscape. The pink house seemed like a bit of a mystery, no one has lived inside it and it is a shell with nothing inside. Ewan said it was probably a folly and built fairly recently (I realised when he said that, that I thought it was old and painted pink later on).
We talked about his upcoming trip to Scotland and he described how going with him on a photography-focused trip isn’t much fun for anyone as he’ll stay in one place for a very long time, waiting for the exact moment to get the photo he wants, which might take hours. I really related to this description as that’s how a particular idea or thing will snag somewhere in me, and I will have to write/draw/paint something from it. I might overhear something which confuses/amuses/irritates me and I just have to write it down “for later”. I may or may not do anything with it, but I always love going back to read them. It’s also how I work with people 1:1; I don’t try and listen to everything in perfect focus. I wait for The Thing to stand out and then I might ask them more about that, trusting that it catches/snags for a reason.
If you’d like to take a look at Ewan’s architectural illustrations, you can go to this instagram, or his photography instagram here (including the places mentioned above). His website can be found here.