Spiritual thumbnail
Spiritual gordon
Cicely and Gordon crouching on a polished gallery floor amidst an exhibition of photographs and archival material. They are clearing up a dusty tarpaulin, tent and accompanying tent bag after a performance. 12-Hour Action Group, Cooper Gallery, Dundee, 2016. Photo: Ross Fraser McLean

This is the photo we sent to Hospitalfield because they needed an image for their Summer School 2017 announcement. We didn’t really have a portrait of the two of us because we’d never been co-programmers of something before, but I remember you suggesting this one, taken just after the performance of mine that you and Sophia Hao commissioned for the Cooper Gallery. You must have downloaded it directly from the office hard-drive when you were working there because the photos I was sent were only of the moments between the beginning and end of the performance. Like a behind-the-scenes shot. I’m really glad you suggested it—we both look good, even though I’m covered in all that dust. I wish Ross could take all our photos.

I like how in that shared ritual of tidying the work, the division of labour between artist/curator evaporates. I never even mentioned how it’s us caught in the act of doing art (perhaps maintenance art?). One difficulty I had with it at the time was that the picture doesn’t necessarily capture the imbalances without captioning, the mess we were tidying was the result of an artwork—it’s *my* (the artist’s) mess.

I’m sorry for not bringing up that uneasiness before, I knew you liked it, and I liked that you liked it. Don’t get me wrong—I like it now too! At the time, I think I wanted to portray us as equal collaborators. Although one of us is an artist and the other a curator, we were jointly responsible for bringing that summer school together and maintaining it over the three days—hosting, circulating, cooking breakfast etc. We instigated the mess, we looked after the mess, and we cleaned up the mess (kinda). Maybe those elements of care were things you were thinking about and why you suggested the photo in the first place. Maybe those elements of care are still relevant now.


Spiritual 2 nearly full
A dark background with white text overlaying—a message from postmaster@outlook.com to Gordon Douglas, sent Yesterday. Your mailbox is almost full. In the centre of the image is a red bar indicating how full the mailbox is, it’s so close to being full. There’s a slightly sassy sentence below telling Gordon that if he wants to make room in his mailbox, all he has to do is delete items he doesn’t need anymore. There’s also a link to a guide on Storage Limits.

This is a screenshot of an email I get twice a day from Outlook about my Hotmail account. The message reads ‘Your Inbox is almost full’, and then there’s a bar below that is red and indicates that I’ve used 14.8GB out of 14.85GB of my storage. There’s a hyperlink button underneath that asks me to ‘manage my storage’. It’s been vaguely threatening me for a couple of months since I passed a limit of 14.75GB usage, informing me that when I hit the end of my storage then emails sent to me will start to bounce.

I really like this idea of everything bouncing away and me being full, hitting saturation point of admin. I speak to a friend about it and they tell me to delete it all as digital storage is causing significant harm to the environment. When I click on the link to begin deleting things there’s no easy way to get started, like, no button that guides me to ‘download everything’ or even just ‘download attachments’. I find it hard, and my ego is probably wrapped up in it because I feel like correspondence is a significant part of my art practice and I want to keep these things—maybe the recipients of these extensive emails have already engaged in digital culls and the archive of our correspondence can no longer be assumed to be our shared responsibility.

I look up how emails are stored in a .pst (personal storage table) file, and then try to find it on my computer. Maybe I can just rip the data from online and keep it in a more portable chemical channel like a hard-drive (rather than centralised in the tanks that hold anchor the aetherial cloud)? Would that be better for the environment? I’m reminded of that recent cultural moment of minimalist living, inspired by Marie Kondo, when my partner decided to give away most of his belongings to a charity shop. He didn’t get rid of everything—the determining factor between what is kept and what is not kept was whether an object gave you ‘joy’ or not. You discard anything with a lack of joy—what does that mean in the context of my emails?

Gordon Douglas


Rodin Spiritual
A sculpture by Rodin in the Burrell Collection, Glasgow: a pregnant woman standing, unfinished sculpture. Installation shot by Cicely Farrer

This bronze sculpture by Rodin is in the recently reopened Burrell Collection in Pollock Park in Glasgow. It wasn’t shown for years after its making as Rodin considered it to be unfinished. His model had been pregnant at the time and hadn’t been able to maintain the energy to continue the pose as long as Rodin required. Therefore, as her body had changed every modelling session, the sculpture was left unfinished. Only years later did Rodin decide that he could show this ‘unfinished’ sculpture, in an ‘in progress’ state, to an audience.

A person explained to me last week that no one wants to see our uncertainties, that we should act beyond them, so no one can recognise them.

Cicely Farrer



Gordon Douglas is a performance artist in Glasgow. He plays games with organisational staff and their stakeholders, celebrates birthdays amidst austerity, and holds it together before breaking down in offices. He is currently cardbearer for Good on Paper.

Cicely Farrer is a curator on the North East Coast of Scotland. Day to day she facilitates artist residencies, pedagogical events and workshops and supports artists to create new work including performance. She invests her time considering the invisible support structures for artists.

​​Good on Paper is a research project initiated by Gordon Douglas and Cicely Farrer looking into the futures of performance art making in Scotland. They are working with MAP Magazine on a series of texts through spring/summer 2022.

Click on links below this article for the second invitation appendices.