Prize Winner

Essay Prize

Painting & Printmaking School of Fine Art

Suzie McGhee

I witness the materiality of my existence and wonder on its verity.
How do I absorb it? – through visual stories and material connections.

The materials I am attracted to are not traditionally utilised as tools for questioning, exploring and understanding, such as fabrics, yarns, ribbon, threads and netting.

My work aspires to dwindle the ties between painting, sculpture and installation and push into the realm of story. The platforms use myth making and the histories of specific site locations, as a vehicle to discuss otherness, whether it is the otherness of material attraction or the otherness of perspectives.

A sensation of cosmic horror permeates throughout my work. This is the idea that humans are insignificant on a universal scale and allows the works to dismantle the commonly accepted stereotyping and associations to the colour pink and materials linked to female practices.

For the Want of a Bone – Part 2
For the Want of a Bone – Part 1

For the Want of a Bone – Part 2

It was here at the Samson Stone, when the first villager started to feel the heavy burden of looking after a giant’s bone. They carried it to this location, on the first of the warm days after that winter,
that winter, when they hunted for the lost funeral party crossing Corpse Pass,
that winter, in which they found the giant’s corpse,
that winter, where their bodies ached and they soothed the sores on their hands and feet, from dragging the giant’s corpse down to the village,
that winter, when they hoped to make a bit more ends meet from the makeshift museum in a cottage kitchen, where the torn and naked, ridged body lay, way too long to lay out flat, but with limbs flopped on the stone floor,
that winter they tried to forget the images of the two hundred-person funeral party, sprinkled through the now frozen solid Stank loch, like one of Gran’s frozen fruit salads.

On this warm day, they did climb the wet and slough mud paths,
on this day, they saw the Samson Stone for the first time,
on this day, they felt summer coming at the bottom of the hill and winter staying at the top,
on this day, their head started to crackle, crunch, and feel heavier to carry,
on this day, they struggled down the slope, shoes not gripping, fearing that they would have to take them off and go barefoot, committing to the cuts and tears that would accumulate on the soles of their feet,
on this day, they found wanting for a bed, as coming off the hill had taken their all, their face could no longer move as well, and their jaw sagged refusing to lift,
on this day, they lay down, lay down their head, so heavy, so rigid, so tight and frozen,
on this day, their head turned to stone while clutching a giant’s bone.

A few days later, someone came in,
someone came in, to see the village, still and serene,
someone walked down, to see a friend,
to see a friend lying still in bed,
to see a friend with a rock for a head.

Installation Sound

Can you really take a giant back home?

It is good to collect bones?

What are rocks, are they all in our head?

Passageways, do they always lead to the place you wish to go?

Giants ongoings used to be forecasted in weather maps.

Do rocks want to go back home?

Watch out! Amber warning, risk of flying rocks NW Stirlingshire.

One last hurl

Every year people tread Corpse Pass, but one year they didn't come back.

Why are kitchen tables never long enough?

Been to Ben Ledi, saw to much, will never eat frozen fruit salad again.

I was always told never to throw stones.

When your head feels heavy, is it safe to sleep?

What are the right shoes for coming down a hill top?

There are so many big things

For the Want of a Bone – Part 1

The strange thing is, there are lots of Samson stones in the UK, all thrown by giants.


The Walken Twa

Ah, ti climb the hill, ti see a stane, never wis it done in vain.
The glacier stane, a massive sight,
it’s perched on an edge, with a dreadful, fearful, unforgiven ledge.

A wumman in pink darted about, clofting a massive bit of sewn cloth,
it would try an catch the wind, trying ti tak her doun,
doun ti the distance grownd.
The stane wid nae abide, nae fabric wid clad its strappin side.

Twa men passed by and saw, the wumman entangled way the stane and awe.
She spoke of a tale between the mountain and hill,
and of a giant way great stane-throwin skills.
From away up high on Ben Ledi’s tap,
the giant hurled it 3 mile, nae sweat ti their brow.
It burled, it spun and wis buffered by wind,
till it lay doun on a mound, a hill, a wee bit o grownd.

I’m nae sure of the wumman in pink,
but the stane looked gid,
adorned way the cloth, doun under its rugged chin.

Fir me and me pal, we come here to awe,
at the huge erratic glacial bolder,
picked up from bedrock far aff,
dragged across the land,
where the giant glacier drapped it, right here, right here
here, where it’s sat still, beyon all human will.

Summer was at the bottom, winter was at the top.

What are you doing up here, are you alright?