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Sunday, 9 January 2011


It's one of those words that sounds like its meaning. From the Latin struere, to build, structure sounds stable and strong and reliable. But in practice, working with structure is a constant dance between support and limitation, isn't it?
I've been thinking a great deal about structure. Probably because it's winter, and I've been doing lots of studies using skeletal trees to structure and shape space. And because I'm cutting and assembling cradling for wooden panels that will provide grounds for paintings. I like working on panels because they can withstand scraping, sanding and all sorts of distress without the basic structure collapsing. A painting can be built, possibly several times, on its solidity.
I like the idea that a confined and limited panel with firm edges can be used to suggest something infinitely more slippery and elusive. Light. A moment.

Language is similar, really. Margaret Atwood, in The Year of the Flood, has a character propose that by saying "I'll be dead", you're still alive inside the sentence and the idea of the immortality of the soul is a consequence of grammar.
Structure. Is it confining or liberating for you?


  1. Lovely, thought-provoking post. I too was struck by how the heavy snow this winter lying on tree branches redefined the space between the branches, almost added another dimension. But I didn't go any further than just taking a few snapshots.

    Ah, Margaret Atwood - I loved 'Cat's Eye' when I was a teenager, have read most of hers; would you recommend 'The Year of The Flood'?

  2. Hi Julie, thanks for stopping by.
    I really enjoyed 'The Year of the Flood', and Atwood's hymnal for God's Gardeners had me in stitches. I think I could read Margaret Atwood's shopping list and feel edified. Yes, I'd recommend 'The Year of the Flood', especially if you enjoyed 'Oryx and Crake'.

    Happy painting. I have six pairs of fingerless gloves. I can't fathom what you'd need in Scotland.