When I started gathering bits and pieces for this theme, I wasn't sure which direction I would go in, but I soon found a route-map through the 'URBAN' landscape. Collage Club: URBAN"You are HERE."

Having recently returned from a trip to New York, I know first hand just how manic, busy and fast-paced urban environments can be.

Colours and lights and skyscrapers and buildings and people and buzz and rushing around to meet deadlines and communicate through time zones.

Time is precious and seems always to be in short supply in the urban landscape.

The edges can become frayed between reality and fantasy, and when I read about Skignz, it reiterated to me how technology and the invisible 'noise' of data connections are infiltrating every area of life, augmenting our own personal reality and the visual space around us, a la Minority Report.

Collage Club: URBAN"Is everyone 'GONE'?"

The image above conjures the idea of 'all the world being a stage', of places and spaces having a voice, of desertion and diaspora.

I love the empty windows that appear derelict, the statues and horses posed in stone, almost caught mid-sentence yet preserved forever, through art and as art.

Cities and urban environments are places where information and knowledge is stored.

They are financial centres of the world.

They become the hearts that send pulses of knowledge rippling out to other hearts, other centres.

They are LOUD with the voices and accents of a thousand languages, and yet the universal language of the world can be navigated through recognisable brands like Coca Cola.

Collage Club: URBAN'COOL GEOMETRY' was a fashion trend I designed a collection around at college, circa 2001.

It fits the theme of URBAN for me because urban environments are about a hotch-potch of structures coming together; old and new, modern materials adjacent to beautiful old bricks, colour-blocking in funky urban playgrounds, parks, schools, art installations, galleries, allotments and street art/graffiti.

Modern = glass and transparent, clever spaces.

Councils post blueprints of plans for residents to see what is happening in their community (complete with spy-holes through security fences, sometimes).

People take pictures and a few months later the landscape has changed.

Focus shifts and petitions spring up and words are written all over cities in a bid to keep things the same, to increase or stem the flow of urban regeneration.

Collage Club: URBANI found this huge cut-out of a watch, returning me to the concept of time, but also of the cyclical nature of things, of the world.

I like the idea of urban cogs, of recycling, of green spaces circled on a map, of the rotation of people through different cities that join together through connecting modes of transport, and then the return journey through the same or different route - so many possibilities - never just one straight line.

Rain falls from the sky and is processed for people to drink again.

Everything RETURNS and renews - but there is only so many times that is possible, too.

Collage Club: URBANFinally, I thought of urban crime scenes and police project rooms set up with markers on a board connecting pieces of evidence together.

People go missing in cities, yet there is always someone who sees something, or perhaps even takes a photograph. Maybe it's CCTV because 'big brother is always watching', especially in an urban space.

Trains connect people as well as separate people, and although I don't like to end on a sad note (because that's not inspiring!), so many times people feel isolated and alone in an urban sprawl; less connected to the earth, to land, to other people.

But then it all comes full circle again, because nothing stays the same.


Celebrating the Season of Happy!

The sun is shining today and it feels like a good time to post my latest art journal pages, inspired by the Get Messy Art Journal 'Season of Happy'.

Happiness as a concept is so different for each of us, but here's a few thoughts, images and ideas that make me feel happy"

Season of Happy - Wk 1&2Season of Happy - Wk 1&2 Season of Happy - Wk 1&2

I love the image of blowing bubbles because it takes me back to the carefree days of being a child with wild, chaotic, outdoor summer fun.

I've used a contact sheet of thumbnail images that came with the processed analogue film from my fisheye camera - the images were all taken on the beach at St Andrews in winter but the sun was shining and the waves were crashing and it was beautiful.

Being happy is about perspectives. Viewing life through a fisheye lens certainly makes me smile!

Smiling is key to happiness I think, and I love the idea of secret doors (through the clouds, in phone boxes, odd numbers - anywhere).

The last image features a radio (sewing box) because music = 'happy' for me. Different moods require different sounds and there's nothing better than creating a playlist of happy songs or making a mix-tape for someone special.

Taking the radio into the garden conjured the idea of music 'dancing on the petals of flowers'. I love that.

I also love a well-stocked and organised craft room. Those threads in a rainbow of colours make me want to get my own sewing box out...

I've designed a new blog banner for 2016 too. It makes me happy because I love the pastel colours - mint, lilac and lemon reminiscent of spring-time and summer and flowers and leaves. Oh leaves!

Be kind, be grateful, be happy.

Join the fun at Get Messy.

Collage Club: MAPS

MAPS is such an interesting theme for a collage. There are so many ways to interpret it.

Actual maps, routes, places, imagined lands, finding a way, roads, travel, timetables, instinct, old-fashioned ways to orientate (the sun, vegetation, water?), labyrinths, getting lost, lost but now found, finding yourself...

And then I thought about my mind. Mind-maps. Mapping a route through my own consciousness. But not in the traditional 'spider diagram' way of a corporate boardroom.

My first thought was that my mind is like a ball of wool. Tangled. There is no map. Strands of thought bisect and influence each other while each tiny facet, each jewel of memory or thought or emotion is required to complete the whole.

Thoughts reflect back on each other in a mirror, or a labyrinthine mosaic. It's a huge jigsaw in there, and sometimes I am lost inside it. A nest of words and emotions all bound together in a tight ball. Emotions seep or spill or tsunami from the centre. Each compartment holds infinite bytes of life. There's a central processing unit. It's at the heart of everything.

The colours that came to mind were black and white and red.

Mind Map Collage

I experimented not at all. I've got loads of actual maps and images of lines and geometrics and patterns, but I needed this to be direct and strong and clear; the opposite perhaps of what I imagine my mind to be? An interesting dichotomy.

I used images and words ripped from a magazine, stuck down and then photocopied into a fragmented mosaic. I cut the piece into a square and edged it with black and white striped washi tape, and then spilled some red wool all over it. The text I overlaid digitally.

The colours might have been inspired by seeing this image at the Riverside Museum in Glasgow.

Old map of Glasgow

It has good strong lines and features the same colours. I also think this bold style is inspired by the visual artist Barbara Kruger, who's work never fails to make me think.

This is my second 'hybrid' collage; produced using both physical and digital elements (the first was for the theme WOMAN.)

It's experimental in its own right, and very different from my other pieces. And I'm still inspired to create for this endlessly inspiring theme of MAPS.

Join the Collage Club on Facebook.

Collage Club: SEASONS

The excitement of the 'SEASONS' is being able to immerse yourself in the abundance of nature's wardrobe. The colours, the patterns, the scents...

My first thoughts on the theme of SEASONS:

Adventures, blossom, sunsets, blackberries, time marching on, feathers, leaves, colours, sand, avenues, paths, routes through the snow, snowflakes falling for the first time, fires in the heart and in the sky, picnics, woodlands, migrating birds, and as a thread flowing through it all, photographing and documenting the passing of the SEASONS.

Which is what led me to: A Girl for All Seasons. I'm a girl for all seasons!*
SEASONS collage

My interpretation of this theme is an eclectic and overlaid prickly kaleidoscope of patterns and prints created using photographs I took using my own Diana Flash Lomography camera (like the girl in the collage), images from magazines (including some Marimekko prints sourced while visiting Helsinki in July), a colourful map created for Glasgow's Merchant City festival, and a feather and a crushed kernel which I picked up on a recent walk. I loved the ombre effect of the feather and the butterfly shape of the kernel.

I LOVE living in Scotland and enjoying the different elements of each passing season, each quarter of the year that has its own tone and feel.

The joy of spring buds, daffodils, lighter nights and that magic in the air of renewal and possibility, the firecracker sizzle and sunsets of late summer, the possibility of picnics and the gradual shift into autumn(*autumn, autumn, always autumn), and the 'festivals' that take us into winter: Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas. Darkness, being cosy, crafting, hibernation, snow patterns on windows. They all have their good and their bad and I enjoy being able to celebrate them all.

You can also view the Facebook group page.