Jim Collins Artwork

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Following my exhibition, “New Beginnings” in February 1994, I had moved into Courtyard Studios at Irvine’s Harbourside and spent most of that year experimenting with light reactive media. I had built a small dark room in the studio with fluorescent and ultra violet lighting so that I could see the different effects on the work I was producing.

1995. Music and Mystery

“New Beginnings” was a collaboration with local composer/music teacher Bill Kerr. Bill’s ambient music added to the overall effects of the exhibition and would be the beginnings of an exciting time for both of us, each inspired by the other’s work.

We were commissioned by Cunninghame District Council to produce an installation in the main hall of the Valley Arc arts centre Glengarnock as part of the Cunninghame Festival. We would also collaborate with the Council’s Parks Department in turning the venue into “Another World.” Lighting and music was controlled from a small room outwith the hall, but with a window looking into it from a high viewpoint. I had prepared hundreds of feet of calico by staining it with various colours of ink, giving the cloth a tonal quality under UV light. I then spattered it with Luminous and fluorescent paint, which made it eerie in darkness. Tropical plants were laid round the walls and an island was created in the middle of the room, as there was a grand piano that was too heavy to move. We just built around it by using the plants and three palm trees were hired to give height. On top of the piano, I sat a plaster cast of an Ian Cooper head sculpture on a piece of luminous paper which lit up the head in darkness.

All the plants were sprinkled with luminous pigment first, then fluorescent, so that they would be colourful, and also seen when there was no light. I made lava by mixing luminous and fluorescent pigment with wallpaper paste and laying it in two basins at different heights with the tubes from a fish tank pump going into each batch and under cut down buckets so that air built up before escaping and causing large bubbles. Bill’s piece of music had a part that sounded like bubbles bursting. He also had thunder in the piece and the lighting was disconnected by a rocker switch, giving the effect of lightning. I made musical notes with Willow, painted them luminous and hung them from light fittings in the ceiling. String was also dyed fluorescent and dotted luminous so that you had broken lines moving in the dark from the two office type fans that were set up. Before anyone entered the installation, smoke was released as the music began.


Following the success of “Music and Mystery,” I was asked to produce another Installation in the heckling shop at the Glasgow Vennel Museum Irvine for the children at Christmas time. This was once again well received and Bill’s music was perfect. We had the loan of Paisley Museum’s lion as our Aslan.

1996. Out of the World and into Largs.

Renowned Spanish writer, Medardo Fraille, was commissioned by the council to write a short story with a Largs connection and this would be the community event for the Arts Festival. His story was scripted and various local groups of young people were to be the cast in this multi media production. I provided the setting in the Brisbane Centre, Largs, and Bill composed music once again.

1998. Santa’s Twinkle Grotto

I was commissioned by Kilmarnock town centre to produce Santa’s grotto in a vacant shop within the Burns shopping mall.

1999. The Land o’ the Leal

This would be the biggest Installation to date as it was in a Nissan hut measuring eighty five feet by thirty five. Eglinton Country Park commissioned this one as part of environment week and most of the material used came from within the park.

2002. Africa

I was commissioned by North Ayrshire Council to create an installation on the theme of Africa for the storyteller Malcolm Green. I transformed a classroom at the Abbey Primary School in Kilwinning into an African jungle for National Tell a Story Day which was 25 October 2002. All primary 7 pupils from Kilwinning's schools attended the event.

2003. Fairy Tales and Fantasy

This Installation was commissioned by North Ayrshire Council, and held in St Mary's church hall, Saltcoats, as part of the 2003 Children's Festival. It was installed so that storytelling sessions for school children would be more ambient. The storytellers were Margaret Smith, Kate Hibbert, Wendy Welch, Jack Beck and Frances Logan.

2004. Stepping Stones to Sea Stories

This year's installation for the storytellers that was held in St Bridget's Primary School, Kilbirnie.

The Beast's Lair

Installation at the Magnum Leisure Centre prior to the panto, Beauty and the Beast.

If you have managed to get this far, then you will have noticed that I managed to cut down on the secrets!