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I am an Illustrator and artist based in Edinburgh. My interests lie largely in drawing, although this takes various forms. I particularly enjoy working in medium that allows natural error, as I feel that this gives the most lively of results. This book is a summation of all the work I have completed over the course of my Foundation year at Leith School of Art in 2012. My work this year is based on a theme of ‘edgelands’the anonymous spaces between city and countryside. My focus within this theme are the human elements. Edgelands as a concept of class, ideas of identity and safety, personalities of the human effects we throw away. I welcome any form of commission, collaboration or communication. If you would like to get in touch, please do not hesitate.

Josie Vallely

i.am.josie@gmail.com

(Next page) I spent time exploring the Dombidyke high rise flats in Holyrood. From my original sketches I created multi media collages, from which I painted these large pieces. My interest was in the unusual sharp lines, perspective and colours of these overlooked buildings.


Boat cafe on the Union Canal, on location sketch


A concept of edgeland When presented with a brief of ‘edgelands’ as a theme for a whole year of study, I felt underwhelmed. There seemed little scope of exploring varied topics, and my mind was already flooded with cliché images of discarded shopping trolleys and wasteland. It took me a few weeks of really immersing myself in an edgeland for me to start thinking beyond the comfort of a literal interpretation of the topic. My reading of the subject has been varied. The original essay on the subject by Marion Shopard was the piece that had the most resonance with me. She looks at the edgeland in a very pragmatic light, without what I feel is the perhaps voyeuristic nostalgia of Micheal Symmons-Roberts and Paul Farley’s “edgelands”prose. She understands the importance and relevance of the edgelands today, along with why they have been ‘discarded’ in a way from day to day life. In a recent Radio 4 ‘open country’ broadcast, she challenges Micheal and Paul’s ideal that the edgelands are ‘beautiful’. This was a very interesting debate and one which will require much more thought on my part. In this summer project, I explored the union canal as my ‘edgeland’ of choice. It offers a perfect example of edgeland imagery and character. It is currently being gentrified by businesses and Edinburgh council, to create a recreational space. This provided a wonderful juxtaposition of brand new office blocks with dilapidated demolished buildings. In the 5 weeks I spent exploring the canal , an eight story building was slowly and delicately reduced to a pile of rubble, sorted and sifted. While the canal originally offered me a purely literal and geographical interpretation of the theme, it also open my eyes to more conceptual elements that I started to, and continue to, explore.

Edgelands and class

Edgelands as a male dominated space

I believe that much of the edgelands concept as it is commonly discussed is based on class.

Part of what edgelands are to me is shaped by my gender. From a young age children are encouraged to explore their worlds in different ways. Boys are taught to play outside, explore, run off steam and take risks. Girls are encourage to please, play ’domestics’ and participate in crafts. This translates into boys exploring edgelands much more readily than girls. Add to this the pressing fear of abduction by mysterious men into the teenage years of a girls life, and the edgelands become out of bounds, particularly for girls who dare to enjoy wandering alone.

A review of Micheal and Paul’s book by Sean O’Brien of the Times helped me to sum up my thoughts on this. He observes of the Edgelands “their climate is strongly working class”. He suggests that they represent the ‘untidiness of life’ and call up memories of “intense industrial labour performed in harsh conditions for low wages”. These are feelings that can be nostalgically reflected upon by now middles class generations, but will be seen in less fond light by the construction worker or street cleaner working within the edgeland itself. The edgelands are, crudely, ‘edgey’. This feeling of uncertainty, the dodgy feeling you get going through underpass, the fear of a hooded figure- are partially driven by misguided stigma based on class. Although, as Symmons suggests, the edgelands do make a good habitat for unlawful activity, most of the fear I feel when exploring edgelands can be put within one of two categories. The first is the naive link I make between certain groups of people- early day drinkers, bleary eyes vagrants, BMX riders and addicts- and a threat to my own safety, and the second is that I am a woman.

This also is echoed in the inhabitants of edgelands- the construction workers, train spotters, twitchers, photographers, drunks and truck drivers- who are almost exclusively male. This reinforces some of the feelings i have when exploring edgelands, that i am an unusual visitor at best, and at worst that i am in danger.


The politics: edgelands as property Edgelands often seem unused and barren, which can lead to contentious issues of ownership. Is common land owned by the landowner or the users? Perhaps it was edgeland that the diggers fought for back in 1649? One particular and recent example that caught my attention was the plight of Hackney’s edgelands that have been taken over by Olympic development. In a wonderful short documentary by Sally Mumbycroft many people who used these edgelands speak out against the developments. What seemed like free space to big city developers where in fact essential spaces for the Hackney community. Allotments that had been worked on for years, football leagues with pitches no more, dog walkers fenced out by the bright blue security. It would seem that planning permission does not give much consideration to the merits of edgeland? My thought on this where confused again by the recent news about Dale Farm, in Basilton. Here traveling people have made an edgeland their home and now face eviction. What rights do they have over an edgeland that was once discarded by a society that now wants it back? The experiences of traveling people is something that I would like to explore further in my work. Edgelands as a personal journey Reading a blog by LA Reads, i was presented with the idea of edgelands as a personal journey. This persuaded me to reflect on my own personal transition from a medical degree to an art degree, and recognise this summer as a personal edgeland. She suggests

“You can’t live well in an edgeland for long. Edgelands are edgelands because the black and white exist somewhere else, somewhere we reach for. But cheers to them, because they make us who we are.”


A combination of free, loose drawing with practise in more sustained tonal studies has given me a strong basis of skill to work from.


The brief for this project was to create a garment that was based on a chosen edgeland area. The area I was interested in was the the Union Canal.There were a few aspects that I had defined as important to work into my garment. The edgelands as practical places of work The edgelands as gendered spaces The edgelands and class


Drawing as Mapping Desire paths A desire path is a path developed by erosion caused by footfall or by bicycle. The path usually represents the shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination. The width and amount of erosion of the line represents the amount of demand. Desire paths manifest on the surface of the earth where original movement by individuals indicates, thereby encouraging more travel. Explorers tread through foliage or grass, leaving a trail “of least resistance� for followers.


Mattresses Tipped down the embankment, they sprawl like sloshed suburban wives, buckled and split, slashed by rain, moulded by bodies dead or disappeared and reeking with secrets. A lineside museum of sleep and sex, an archive of thrills and emissions, the histories of half-lives spent hiding in the dark. Arthritic iron frames might still be worth a bit, but never that pink quilted headboard, naked among thistles, relic of some reckless beginning, testament to the usual miracle: the need to be close, however it stains and bruises. Jean Sprackland


The Helmet as protection

deaths. Last year 208 people were killed on Scottish Roads.I evoke this with the base of my sculpture.

The primary concern of a bicycle helmet is to attenuate impacts to the skull of a cyclist in falls while The viewer, in order to observe the sculpture, must minimizing side effects such as interference with lie on the gravel. This is uncomfortable- increasing peripheral vision. the viewers feelings of unease and disatisfaction. this It has an expanded polystyrene foam liner and a hard echoes the uncomfortable truth of road and cyclist casualties. polycarbonate plastic shell. Polystyrene is made up of multiple small units or beads of Molding Expanded Polystyrene. In moulding these beads are expanded up to 40 times their original size and each contains a small vacuum and is infinitesimally different. EPS is 98% air, so is very lightweight.

The coloured gravel represents each of the 104 deaths in 2009. Each is individually labored over. This evokes the importance and individuality of each of these lives.

The original layout of the gravel is within a rectabgle with the height of 128cm. This is the average height The protection offered by repeated units of matter can of an 8 year old child. This small size of laying area for the viewer will make them consious of tehir be seen throughout nature and design. From scales, own size, but also evoke childhood and perhaps the feathers and skin cells, to bricks, and bollards. influence that parents have in keeping their children I explore this in my sculpture by building my helmet safe. structure from ‘almost identical’ units with air spacing between them. I am interested how a structure can be The lack of ‘enclosure’ for the gravel is important. It is to suggest how easily lives can be lost, and how strong and stable without the use of adhesive but by the overwhelming statistics of road casualties can be using only the geometry of a repeated unit. easily dispersed and covered over,. It also evokes how memories of lives can change over time. The Helmet as a symbol of safety The helmet offers a security to the parent as a symbol of safety isn a potentially hazardous situation. It is a control in an relatively spontaneous environment. A Cochrane review of five case-control studies found that helmets reduce the risk of head injury in a collision by 63-88% and injury to the upper and mid face by 65%. However, in 2009 there were 104 cyclist

It also harks back to the sculpture of Carl Andres. This work influenced me in terms of sculpture not just being about ‘sculpting’ things, but also about rearranging things. My careful arrangement of the helmet ‘units’ will be in contrast to the organic rearranging that the viewer will be involved with when they lie down on the gravel.

The Helmet as a symbol of restriction Right wing press and government are currently obsessed with how ‘health and safety’ are taking over from common sense. Despite not feeling that they are quite right in their sentiment, I do feel that there is a developing neurosis of parents towards their children. I experienced this in my childhood and often felt as though my adventures were restricted by safety precautions. I am also aware, however, that this probably does prevent tragic loss of life in some cases. The helmet i chose to focus on particularly is one that i hated to wear. Now as an adult i often opt not to wear a helmet despite knowing why it is important to do so. In order to evoke this restrictive side to the protection a helmet offers, i have composed a piece of sound art. This is made up of 2 types of sound. The first the is the rustling, banging and scratching that one experiences whilst wearing a helmet. They are clumsy noises and evoke a cumbersome and bulky sensation. The second sound is altered voice repeating, “stop. look.listen” the childhood road safety mantra. At first this elemnt seems to be quite pleasent in comparision with the repetative and awkward sounds of the helmet. However, it builds up to very uncomfortable levels for the listener and becomes quite overwhelming, evoking the unpleasant and engulfing nature of neurotic parenting.


This body of work was influenced by my interest in Big Issue Vendors as people placed in a sociological Edgeland. The main aims of my project were to portray vendors as themselves, without the stigma that is attatched to the Big Issue. Selling the Big Issue is a job that requires much organisation, determination and know-how. It is not a form of begging and should not be looked upon as such. This project was conceptually very diffiuclt for me, as one of the most important elements of it was to avoid voyerism or alienation.


Oil painting of Staithes, Northeast Seaside Village. The Northeast is an edgeland in terms of national borders, as well as in the self identity of the people that live there. My family ties with the Northeast and my time spent there at Univeristy mean that it has become a particularly important place for me in my childhood and young adult life.


As-yet unsigned Newcastle quintet ShiftStatic are, thankfully, more melodious than their name might suggest. Elegant and mysterious, their sound is soft words and sound loops that weave and float over a topography of sublime atmospherics. Singer Laura Smith’s eloquent vocals waver between Julianne Regan’s melancholic tones and Kate Bush at her birdlike best; her silvery coos and flutter effortlessly in and out of slowly rippling guitars. Smith further asserts her mature versatility in her transition to a Middle-Eastern style vibrato on ’11-1 . The track echoes the ethereal opulence of Cocteau Twins’ ‘Beatrix’: dark, seraphic chimes and chants conjure dark church halls and angeladorned cathedrals, and the band’s vocal polyphony carries a majestic divinity that transcends well beyond their youthful years. ‘Father Footsteps’ and ‘No Rush’ are equally finely crafted; textured swirls of static loop around discarnate whispers and sighs with a curious combination of lute-like strings and electromagnetic waves. And if there’s ever a hit in the making, it’s ‘Haystacks’. Surprisingly danceable, the drums beat to heart-rending syncopation as Smith tells a bittersweet tale of regret and lost love (“don’t follow my foray/I know I’ve gone astray“). Shift-Static sound like electronic voice phenomena from beautifully sad spirits, forever wandering in a fruitless search.


This body of work explores the potency of possesion- how people’s personalities and individualities are created and maintained by what they own. I began by looking into different types of ownership- consumerism, collections, obbsessive consumption. This led me to think about children, and what they percieve to be valuable. My view further narrowed to the hobbiest rock collector, allowing me to develop my own short term obsession with rocks and semi precious stones.


These shiny polished balls of everyday mud, called doradangos, are typically created by Japanese children. They were a perfect example of a simple conversion from mundane to precious through obsessive process.


Learning to polish, cut and finish semiprecious rock


No Globe are a group of young creatives interested in the breakdown of borders of culture within international arts and music. We champion new, progressive music and contemporary art from across the world and bring it to Scottish audiences in partnership with the artists. This piece of work was about communicating our rejection of the term ‘world music’ through an expression of the huge breadth of music genres across the globe.


My response to a brief asking me to explore the theme of ‘lunch’. I chose to focus on South Indian cuisine, in particular the Thali, which is a dish that comes with many small ‘taster’ courses and is traditionally served at weddings and other celebrations. This was inspired by my experiences at Tanjore restaurant, which I am particularly fond of. The proprietor was very please with the final booklet.


A canty neuk whaur Almond joins the Forth. Ye daunder doun the brae Wi’ views o’ Fife’s green “Kingdom” to the north Ayont the wee bit bay Whaur Cramond Island rises frae the sand, Its “haufway” causey raxin oot frae land. Amang the tombs the auld Kirk seems to hide Wi elms abune its heid. The white-washed biggins by the water-side Are crouned wi’ tiles o’ reid, Whaur Charon, yachtin-capped (his fee saxpenny) Will oar ye, no’ to Hades, but Dalmenny. The Kirk, the Inn, the Ferry - a’ historic, But lang afore their day They spak a lingo here that wasna Doric: Professor bodies say That ance the Romans had a muckle fort, And diggin for its founds is a’ their sport. Noo leggy lads and lassies steer their Hornets Aboot the narrow reach While weans frae Pilton sook their ice-cream cornets Or picnic on the beach And jos, stravaigin on the esplanade, Can view the gasworks through the gatherin shade. But still the sea-birds pipe their oorie cries Athort the Lothians mud And still the sunset pents the evenin skies Wi’ palette maist gane wud And aye its colours fade afore the een As gloamin casts its glamerie on the scene. Douglas Fraser 1963


This series of drawings is based on a poem by a Scottish poet, Douglas J Fraser. It describes, in colloquial modern scots, the sea side village of Cramond. Cramond was an important place for me in my childhood, I spent many long days there exploring its flora and fauna. I wanted to capture the nostalgic feeling that adults get when reading picture books, as well as observing the slightly comical determination of Scots to have beach holidays whatever the weather.


Foundation year work  

A presentation of work completed in the academic year of 2011/2012

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