Residency : Duncan Wilson - May, 2011



A large canvas, adorned by an intricate mix of tree roots, leaves and other organic matter can be seen on one side of the Connect workshop. This is where Duncan Wilson, artist in residence for the month of May, has been working for the past four weeks.

Duncan studied painting at the Glasgow School of Art from 1992 to 1996. “At Art School, I initially worked figuratively, however, during my undergraduate I also became interested in abstract painting”. Although semi-abstract at first glance, his current work trades on the idea of ‘the body’ and clearly refers to something organic.

“I don't work with pure abstraction, I prefer to work with some subject matter. In the case of these paintings I have used  trees, leaves, bones and the body, to give me a starting point for the paintings. With this series of works, I have worked from memory and free-hand."

Duncan Wilson’s compositions also reflect his interest in minimalism. “There is a minimal aesthetic to this body of work and, with these paintings, I have used simple shapes such as a curve, a circle and a triangle to house the subject matter.

Duncan was encouraged by tutor John Fitzpatrick to apply for the residency. “As I don’t have a practice at home, my intention was to use the residency to begin to paint again. I haven't painted for some time now because I don't have a studio and I have been working full-time in the voluntary sector. The residency has given me a chance to re-engage with that aspect of my practice.”

While he didn’t have a precise plan or a specific theme, “I did have the idea that I wanted to work on a bigger scale as I can’t do that at home, and that I wanted to use paint.” 

Duncan's practice has always focussed on drawing: “For me, drawing is central to my practice and I have drawn since leaving art school”. This is particularly obvious with the piece he is working on at the moment: delicate drawings with areas of colour. “Initially, I was going to leave it as a one colour piece, a drawing on canvas but I felt that it was crying out for colour. So, I decided to add colour very gradually. It’s now a painting, and no longer a drawing.”

Has the residency been a positive experience then? “Being here has given me the opportunity to think about my practice again. As opposed to thinking about it for a day and then going to work and focussing on that, I can continue what I started the day before. It’s been great to be able to do that. I really like the space and there is a really nice atmosphere in the studio. There's a great mix of people working and having fun and it’s been great to meet and work around the other artists who use the space”.

Duncan Wilson’s work will be exhibited in January 2012 in Project Ability gallery, as part as the Residency group show. Duncan has previously exhibited work at Recoat in Glasgow’s West-End.