Sketchbook notes from the drifting spaces

Tokyo Omotesando Exhibition, Gallery 80, November 2012

I’ve been busy working away on various art projects for this show, which I’m greatly looking forward to. I am grateful to be invited to make new work for this my first show in the buzzing heart of Japan that is Tokyo. Ometesando and Shibuya area are dynamic parts of town which will be inspiring to work with in themselves. The gallery is in the lively Omotesando Hills development and is a modern, simple yet sleek designed space with large windows that focuses on art and design. Preparation is also underway from the organisers on the Japan side and I’ll be keeping you updated here and on the Exhibitions page.

In the last year or so I’ve been having fun with photography and installation as well as much looser abstract drawings and ‘free-form’ paintings not tied down to particular media, and more spontaneous, often non studio based pieces… So the plan is to continue these projects for this show, plus any other ideas that come up! Recently sound and moving images are coming in to my practice too so it is an exciting time, and the show is a chance to bring many of these elements and way of seeing and working with reality together, and communicate with the viewers in this busy, artistic area. The majority of the sites/waymarks I’m working from are Scotland based so I’m hoping this will be quite an interesting contrast for folk in the skyscraper metropolis.

I’ll be getting organised (at some point in the not tooo distant future) with transport and logistical preparations and thinking about presentation and technology to make everything work. If you are interested in supporting some of the costs involved in this show it would be a great help. It is fun just now working on the various creative intertwining strands and it will be good to really push these forward and work hard in the next months. Will keep you posted!

Recent work and studies

Recent studies using mixed media on card, paper and sketchbooks have been leading to much more free and abstracted pieces that is the way I’m trying to push forward into more poetic, less pictorially restricted territory… ‘Flowing Through Space’ (top-left) was a bit of a breakthrough. Many of these pieces are moving fluidly through city and landscape waymarks working from sketches, memory, sometimes photos or other distorted images, a mix of these or from other pieces, essentially distilling the process. Nevertheless I’m trying to keep it real! by not overworking and not too flat. So it can be pretty hit and miss!

Okamoto Taro (mid to late 20thC Japan), whose spirit and passion for art I really admire, said ‘Art is Magic.’ Although I don’t go for all his work his sculpture and D&P was often free and playful and he never wanted anything to get in the way of experiencing his work, such as any artistic compromise or even just framing with glass which apparently particularly upset him. Picasso was also perfectly on the ball when he said ‘Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.’

Drifting Snows, Folded Forms

End of December 3 day trip to the Trossachs National Park

Central Scotland

8 and a half hours walk, crampons on at around 400m

Exhilarating but tough crunching through snow and ice

Carrying materials, limited time for sculpture

Drifting snow along the ridge from Ben Ledi to Ben Vane

Snowmelt, deer and headtorches for walk back through Glen Finglas

Studio work and prep


Have been drawing from various sculpture and my other objects in the studio, this was a quick continuous line drawing from a clay piece. The image on the right is of preparation for new work, this kind of prep is an enjoyable art in itself!

December 2011

Studio work in progress…

Blair Thomson's Studio, November 2011

From the Hill Top

Some one from below
Is looking at the whirling
Of the cherry snow.


Recently I have been reading and considering the 7th Century Hua-yen Chinese philosophy that influenced Zen in terms of that concept of interconnectedness and impermanence and I’m pulling this into my worldview behind the art and expanding yet simplifying my process. Currently I have some small pieces on show, please check the exhibitions page.

‘There is only incessant change and flux’ (Hua-yen)

‘..blooming, buzzing confusion…’ (Whitehead)

November 2011

‘Art is Explosion’ Okamoto Taro

Konstnärshuset, Stockholm

November 4th to November 9th: ‘HOPE Somalia‘ exhibition at Konstnärshuset, Stockholm, of local and global artists raising funds for the starving millions in Somalia. I’m delighted to participate in this very worthwhile show with two new pieces (including ‘Rising’ below) in this Venetian style palace in the centre of Stockholm and to organising artist Jacob Anckarsvard best of luck with the exhibition.

RGI Annual Exhibition 2011

Until 12th November 150th Royal Glasgow Institute Annual Exhibition, showing one large abstract work (from my city structures series) at the Mitchell, in this one of the UK’s largest open shows. Last month I streamed a live talk from Tokyo by artist Christo whose work I often find inspiring, conceptually and on a staggering scale.

RGI Annual Exhibition 2011

Through Argyll, Barra and South Uist

Summer has been really busy, creative and joyful and we managed to get out the city for a few trips and even caught the best weather too! We went to the Outer Hebrides for the second time this year, this time loading up the bikes with gear, a colourful and motley mix of art and camping stuff. I was focussed on wrecked sites where the semi-organic, man-made shapes and poignant, quiet atmosphere were speaking to me as it were, and I was sketching, making calligraphic and other 2D work, simple sculpture and spending a while with the (digital) camera…. Since returning from all this outdoor work in such a wonderful setting I have been developing these works and I think I will be for quite a while as there are so many creative possibilities and new ideas emerging…