Sketchbook notes from the drifting spaces

Windswept Carn an Tuirc and Glas Maol


waga iho wa
koshi no shirayama
kouri mo yuki mo
kumo kakari keri

my Koshi
white mountain
cozy winter den
ice and snow
overlaid by clouds

Eihei Dogen



The voice of the valley is endlessly preaching.
The colour of the mountain is nothing but pure body.
During the night, I heard eighty-four thousand verses.
How shall I expound this to others?

Su Dongpo, composed when visiting Mount Lushan overnight (quoted from ‘The Wholehearted Way’ by Koushou Uchiyama Roshi)




Ben Ledi – pulsating mountain

Ben Ledi 1 (

Ben Ledi 2 (

Ben Ledi 3 (

Ben Ledi 4 (

Ben Ledi 5 (

Ben Ledi 6 (

Ben Ledi 7 (

temporal voids
of cerulean blue –
ice holes, pulsating –
falling apart rapidly

unravelling – snap shots, walking and cycling, through scottish cityscapes

exterior of multi floor removed

beam through bars, structure behind

wrapped in red weathered cloth

red towers, rising

red tower in distance, modernist tower neglected

electric lights glint, clouds gather above shopping complex

gateway closed, steps amidst modern ruins

High Bridges – Walking Drawing Tokyo West from Naka Meguro

Walking and Drawing Tokyo 1 (

along suspended riverblocked by oncoming vertical flyovernanamemeeting high polished walls isolating the residential worldfloating gardens flowing into alloy platforms

Walking and Drawing Tokyo 2 (

Walking and Drawing Tokyo 3 (

intertwined shafts, containers hummingneutral perimetersemerging and reshaping the ground and drawing out energy lines

Walking and Drawing Tokyo 4 (

Walking and Drawing Tokyo 5 (

overlapping populous spacessuffusedabove a tandem rotor flying heavilyleaden

Walking and Drawing Tokyo 6 ( and Drawing Tokyo 7 ( and Drawing Tokyo 8 ( and Drawing Tokyo 9 (

quick descent and dark blue chill moving onundulating and avoiding trafficsoon underground in quiet waiting zones, south of shibuyaflashingflashingyellow glazed surfaces, shards from blackness and fluorescent memory

‘Shuffling’ (popped into Glasgow School of Art Degree Show with ‘friends’)

Shuffling (blairthomson) from Blair Thomson on Vimeo.

City Walking – Glasgow School of Art Degree Show and MFA 2013

Concrete Lines 2 (

With the work rapidly continuing on the new GSA Design building by architect Steven Holl, it is a pleasure to walk from the area around the Master of Fine Art exhibition at the Glue Factory, next to the Firth and Forth Canal, down into the city centre and uphill again to Garnethill, take in the Degree Show at the Mac and then head to the temporary Skypark design campus via the Clyde walkway (and through various infrastructure too).

Looking out from the Mackintosh School of Art we see straight over to the fantastic array of negative spaces and soon to be light-filled, glass clad interior of the new campus structure (replacing the old Newbery Tower which was a striking piece of Brutal British architecture) which Holl aims to make a contrast to the Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece in a ‘complementary’ way. Inside the Mac the 2013 Degree Show highlights the next new wave of multi-talented and disciplined graduates who use a varied array of media to investigate their chosen themes rather than concentrate purely on the one art-form. In keeping with this the Mackintosh gallery space works are fairly quiet this year, with much of the interest being found along the corridors in the sensitive details of many of the artists’ works, and some quirky postmodern adventures too. The installation and painting/ printmaking pieces by David Farrar were particularly fascinating, with excellent compositions and colours in his paper works of sections of buildings and furniture reworked and contextualised anew into curved and linear blocks. Likewise there is an experimental crossover between painting and printmaking being picked up on by a good few others like A M Sutton, moving off the square and off grid totally with her varied vista of textures and more earthy colours and curious shapes floating over intricate landscape surfaces..

Generally you can see there is a greater influence of the digital world and its post Leeman shock vulnerability on the mindset and interests of the students, with nevertheless mature, comical and really creative takes on the post-modern urbanised world and fluorescent colours and atmosphere. This digital aspect is apparent even where the final works have used analogue devices, old TV monitors or Super 8, subverting the more commercial side of the whole digital experience perhaps. You can take a tongue in cheek excursion into the celebrity and service sector in the fun and games yet very clever performance and video (and their own lounge-installation which becomes yours too as you settle a bit too comfortably in the leather sofas) works of Justyna Ataman and Alexandra Roch. They are wittily photographed and filmed in various parts of the city with mesmerised bystanders, bus commuters and shoppers, posed in their bizarrely over the top costume/retail-air hostess uniform of lycra and blonde wigs.

Sculpturally, there is a lot of works fusing modernist and post-modern aspects which at the same time complement 2D works nearby. Louis Skehal’s wooden frame like construction of three large angular interconnecting shapes make for a skilful piece and ambitiously corresponds with the high ceilinged and bright windowed spaces of the studios. Reminiscent of artists like Serra and Gormley, steel rods, sheet metal and plaster and clay figurative excerpts of heads and hands come into the works, such as at the Master of Fine Art exhibition at the Glue Factory. Here one of the larger scale pieces that stands out is the overturned bulk of a broken filing cabinet with reverberating sound emanating from speakers inside, as well as tiny spinning tops whizzing above it. This is by Gabriel Leung, from a series of pieces related to the Tohoku Earthquake of Japan in 2011. There are several works in this show which challenge and interact with the strength of the charismatic old factory.

Concrete Lines (

Mountains walking – Ben Lui quartz and snow lines

Ben Lui ridge

super clear water streaminggravel growing tiny trees roots flowing into crumpled steel sitting on dry river stonesup and running momentarily slow walking sun-dazed meandering in and out of the waterfall sound edge grasses dry then wet, on the scree wall purple shadows falling onto vertical scarred snows

Ben Lui ridge 2Ben Lui ridge 3Ben Lui ridge 4Ben Lui ridge 5Ben Lui 6Ben Lui 7Ben Lui 8Ben Lui 9 ( Lui 10 (

moving through cold shadow areas nowledge ascent strangely calmalternating looking, up and down, everything close upslight pick-up in the cooling windshards of brightness diffusing black rocky triangles above

Walking and Drawing, Cairngorms, Scotland, Part 2

Cairngorms 3

snow flakes
dancing around
in the sunlight

Shadow RocksDeep Sky 2

snow ridge
Snow Ridge 2

Deep Sky 1
Snow Ridge 3

no more haiku
just footstep after footstep

Cairngorms 4

Walking and Drawing, Cairngorms, Scotland, Part 1

not disassociated
edges of chaos

Cairngorms 1

Heading up through Glen Tilt we found piles of old logs and bare wood, massive tyre tracked and gouged layers of mud. A brief glimpse of a spotted woodpecker? Gradually heading uphill over mossy ground with open aspects over the winding river below and to the snow covered tops of Beinn a Ghlo. Memory of a walk around here two years before, creaking down the long quiet slope of Carn a’ Chlamain after a dark blue moonlit midnight walk south of the remote, majestic Beinn Bhrotain. After taking it slow and seeing no one for quite a while, and sitting eating a simple breakfast, we were passed and waved to by some estate workers on Yamaha buggy and shiny Land Rover (carrying another many wheeled vehicle) going uphill out of the forest towards the mysteriously hidden Beinn Dearg. This was the start of a long route which took in a lot of possibilities for drawings too.

Wet Tundraslip
timber stackGlen Tilt
RemnantGlen Tilt 2
Glen Tilt 3Cairngorms

green ochre and vandyke, hill dynamic
beware the stacks, sensing the massif beyond
exposed and bleached purple desert of heather
burnt silvers, sudden blue open void

Cairngorms 2

tectonic, pushing back
multiple, blurred
through to, or across

Tracks, trails, omens

snow track

Has been a long winter in Scotland and have been out through various trails. Wandering through these half forgotten, foggy forestry roads in the hills. Spider webs and open voids, condensed silence shattered by heavy wingbeats. Have been thinking more about Matsuo Basho, and Ryokan’s roaming too and mountain living.

dreams lost in the grasses, fleeting glimpses

subtle snow smell, looking up and looking outwards

tree closewebs
tree fog 1tree fog 2
tree fog 3tree fog 4

Ryokan’s twilight climbs, life stirred up in the piles of old leaves, playful signs

Thinking about contrasting essences, empty-full, muddy-untainted, speed-slow, darkness-light

skull bridge

over the winter river
an eagle gives me a sharp glare
from the mountain ridge

translation of Ryokan haiku