Claire Blyth Art

Inch 13 Thoughts like flowers 11x11 cm

Working Perspectives Blog

A selection of artists from Crossing Borders have been invited into unexpected workplaces in Peebles: Castle Warehouse, Grandison's Plasterworks; Renwick and Weir joiners and Go Ape amongst others. For me, it's Nomad Beat, the charity-run music school. We've to find inspiration in these venues and use it to make new artworks. With a ceramicist, a jeweller and a couple of textile workers as well as painters, the resulting exhibition in the Tweeddale Gallery in early 2015, should be worth a look. We're pleased to have support from Scottish Borders Museums and Galleries services and from Peebles Creative Place.

By clairebb, Jan 15 2015 10:22PM

It's been very difficult to get back to this blog after the sudden, shocking death of Alison, manager, creator and spirit of Nomad Beat, and all round lovely person. In the space of the three or four meetings we had, she gave so much and always with such good nature. I thank her for the welcome, the wisdom, the drumming workshop, Airs and Gracenotes, the enthusiasm, the encouragement and the laughs.


By clairebb, Nov 30 2014 10:17PM

And here's a sculptural work that is far removed from my usual pensive, even sombre, paintings!

By clairebb, Nov 30 2014 10:14PM

This residency is taking me to some surprising places.

Feeling the need to move into 3D work, I went to a workshop by Brigid Collins called "Making a Poem House." I now plan to use her techniques to make music-inspired structures.

By clairebb, Nov 1 2014 09:09PM

I've now done a number of "people playing instruments" paintings so it's time to explore how to make a different visual response to music.

What I hope is coming through is rhythm, in the repetition of shapes;



harmony in the use of colour;



and an arrangement of elements that holds together in a satisfying way;


What do you think?

By clairebb, Sep 19 2014 07:56PM

I fancy drumming.

So when I heard that Nomad Beat was running a drumming workshop, I overcame my fears of being thought daft and joined the kids on the djembe drums. Alison is a brilliant teacher, leading us from ignorance to perfect playing (in my opinion) of a three part rhythm in the round (not sure if that's the correct technical term, but it was impressive).

There is the sense of consciously and clumsily acquiring a physical skill, then putting it aside and trusting that it will appear unconsciously when the music requires it. You have to concentrate and not concentrate at the same time. You stumble, fall off the beat, can't find your way back then a good teacher helps you back to your place as part of something bigger.

This is the sort of crossover activity that the Working Perspectives project seeks to inspire: I wouldn't have gone to the workshop if I hadn't already sussed out the friendliness and inclusiveness of Nomad Beat; in going, not only did I have a great afternoon, I also met a woman who spoke to me about her visual perception of sound, which will in turn inform some of the work I intend to make - and so the ideas blossom, as long as you concentrate and don't concentrate at the same time.

By clairebb, Aug 9 2014 09:15PM

I enjoy time spent on my own in the studio but of course, too much of your own company can make you go a bit odd, so it was good to be asked to meet up with Alison (Nomad Beat) and Richard (Creative Place) to discuss, over a cup of tea, how the residency is going.


"Doing away, doing away," is the answer, "but no breakthrough yet." It felt as if I was hesitating at the threshold still and not making the most of my access to the music and musicians.


For our meeting I had to formulate my thoughts and express my experiences coherently to Alison and Richard, then they bounced back their enthusiasm and knowledge; this was what had been missing - it gave me the stimulation and encouragement to explore more adventurously. Rather than just looking at the musicians, I intend to quiz them about their experiences and use this information from outside my own observations to shape my work.


That was a most refreshing cup of tea!



By clairebb, Jul 27 2014 08:15PM

Nomad Beat has been busy creating a treat for everyone - a fabulous collaborative outdoor musical performance with added sunshine....


Well done, Alison for composing a beautiful tune and bringing together pipe and silver bands, traditional and classical musicians, choir and goodness knows what else.,

I have played music - piano, cornet and guitar, always very badly, but with generous people who were willing to accommodate me, so I have experienced that amazing moment when the music takes off and you are part of something bigger and better than the sum of the parts.


As for my response as a visual artist, having done a lot of figure drawing in the past, I'm interested in the relationship between the human body and the instrument - does the body dictate the form of the instrument or vice versa - or is it another collaboration?

While I ponder that, here are some earlier sketches:


Wrestling or dancing?



Like a bird.



Loved hearing this girl giving it laldy on the drums - wish it was me!



By clairebb, Jul 6 2014 08:16PM

I've been away for a week and now Nomad Beat is on holiday, so it's good thinking time. Still exploring the notion of rhythm. Even when it's quiet, there's loads of visual rhythm:




I'm also pondering whether there's such a thing as visual rhyme - not a strict repetition, but an echo...





Some of the shapes lend themselves to print methods and will help provide unity within and between paintings. Watch out for rows of dots appearing in my work!




You've seen this photo before but I can't see how to delete it. Any ideas?

By clairebb, Jun 28 2014 08:24PM

"We are bemused by a rhythmic association of sounds, in ritual, in rock 'n' roll, in poetry. There's a pulse which persuades us beyond reason."

Rhythm is a repeated pattern, so the idea of rhythm translates easily to visual art. If rhythm is strictly regular it is reassuring but may become boring:


Syncopation may be unsettling but is more exciting:


My first group of paintings for this project will begin with the heartbeat of rhythm.

By clairebb, Jun 23 2014 08:13PM

Finding plenty of scope for abstract work, and collecting loads of composition ideas.

Compared to my quiet first visit to Nomad Beat, the second one was like a surprise party! There were people everywhere, smiling and milling around, and every door I opened had a different musician behind it. The recorder was sweet, the double bass was sophisticated, but it was the drums that really did it for me! Is it possible to translate any of that into paint?

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