Fragments by Karen McPhail, Credit Karen McPhail

Karen McPhail, EVOLVE Arts and Tourism

Karen McPhail, EVOLVE Arts and Tourism Tighnabruaich, Argyll and Bute

CHARTS supported the Drey workshop over two projects linked to EVOLVE, which enabled Karen to finesse a work she had been developing for several years. CHARTS financial support allowed Karen to refine ideas, experiment with imagery found in Argyll and make a body of work in response, while CHARTS staff supported Karen with how her Fragment Project could be engaged. Out of this support, Karen was able to develop work that communities could interact with, as the finished pieces, and allowed Karen’s work to ‘live’ outside her studio.

Fragment resulted in hundreds of highly decorated glazed ceramics fragments placed in earthenware ‘lady pots’ to be placed at sites of public interest around Tighnabruaich. Those who discovered the work were invited to take away their own fragment. Karen was supported by CHARTS Communications Coordinator, James Coutts, who discussed the involvement of social media in recording the fragments’ journeys. Through conversations, it was decided the works would be interacted with in real-time giving them uniqueness. This allowed for organic conversation around the work to develop when they discovered the fragments, as documented below:

  • Two sisters from Poland excitedly start to photograph each other holding the fragments and, after hearing about the project, emotionally shared that it was one of their birthdays and will treasure their fragments as a memento
  • The local ‘Branching Out’ group (a network for mental health support) found a jar during a walk through the woodland and one member took pleasure in asking each other member to choose their own fragment and discuss where they would leave them.
  • An archaeologist visiting the area on holiday Tweeted after seeing a jar in the Tighnabruaich Gallery window, “this is archaeology of the future”.

“CHARTS support has made it possible for Drey Workshop to engage with the local and wider community, which has resulted in our practice becoming more relevant in our setting. Links have been created and future plans for projects discussed with local groups. Working in the creative industries can be isolating, especially in a rural environment, and CHARTS has facilitated a more ‘expansive’ outlook.” Karen McPhail


Image: Drey workshop dinner set 2022