Flying from Prestwick

A rose grows wild in the country / A tree grows tall as the sky /
The wind blows wild in the country / And part of the wild,

wild country, am I

I try walking around to see if I can strip off this mood, but it doesn’t really work out. My surroundings are corrupted when my feelings break down their door to the world. The air that holds and forms the days bears new colours with the texture of oil paint. Emerging new tones are so hot they are timeless. I spot a symbolistic fountain, a perfect excuse to sit down and call my friend. The odd silhouette cast from the back might be a killer, but I pay no attention to whatever is around me. Night and day are laughable old terms. My friend had a wacky dream. She was a dog in a pub where a cloud of smoke invaded the room and suddenly everything smelled of lavender and everyone around her fell asleep because of beer, because of lager, because of Tennent’s. I witness my attraction to alluring objects that tickle my ignorance. I witness beauty when the centre is threatened by the periphery. A sliding surface of jesmonite takes over the central lines of the picture framing it. In another room, unpredictable energy spurts from a tree growth, from a burr, from a wart, from a torn mushroom, from a spellbound mound, from the wild textures of paper. I have the audacity to believe I am a chameleon when I try hiding against the wall. Circulating in the space, I make up meanings as quickly as I undo them, examining the textures of these pieces as a platform for me to linger, agitate my brain, confront or escape. And so I write, always withholding the fear that I am making it all about myself.

A heart beats wild in the country / And here with a dream
in my heart / Part of the wild, wild country, am I

In 1960, returning to the United States from his army national service, Elvis Presley landed in Glasgow’s secondary airport, Prestwick, and changed the life of fan Ann Murphy: “I’ll never forget the day I saw my idol face-to-face. I might have been a naive, Scottish 16-year-old but it changed my life forever. It might have been 50 years ago but it feels like yesterday.” Prestwick is also the name of a collective art show at the New Glasgow Society curated by the participating local artists. This exhibition of painting, drawing and sculpture happened between the 4th and the 6th of June, a week before Glasgow International, a bi-annual festival of visual art. In conversation with Stephen Polatch, he mentions that the intention was to pick a deliberately boring title for the show, like an ‘alternative GI’. It needs to be said that even though big festivals can boast opportunities, they can also cause wreckage and asymmetry in the scene and a cultural drought in the rest of the year.

There is little incentive to come together with those who are next to me, right here, right now and to find out what they are up to—and most certainly the pandemic hasn’t helped. The great realisation that it’s not enough to do it yourself and for yourself grants me the power to move forward and to do it together, learning more about my fellow artists’ work, looking at it and feeling it through, celebrating it along with my own, instead of framing it as a competitor.

In the wild country of Prestwick, there is not a sight of Elvis, but we look at each other and realise that the community is the real star.

Prestwick was presented at New Glasgow Society (East) between 4 – 6 June 2021. The exhibition featured work by Coral Brookes, Ewan Murray, Felix Zandt, Hannah Reynolds, Isabella Widger, Isobel Neviazsky, Jessie Whiteley, Lilian Ptáček, Patrick McAlindon, Paul McKee, Rhett Leinster and Stephen Polatch.


Stephen Polatch, Fountain, 2021, oil on board
Coral Brookes, 2021, mono print and jesmonite frame
Patrick McAlindon, Crazy in the Pub, 2021, oil on canvas