Mollie on Metamorphosis
Mollie Forsyth used to work at The Longship every Saturday and during her summer holidays. Her beaming smile and positive outlook is still greatly missed by customers and the Longship Crew alike. Though we were sorry to see her go it’s exciting to hear that she's making a name for herself in the big city, where she studies interior design at the Glasgow School of Art. We caught up with Mollie to find out about what she’s been doing during lockdown; it turns out she’s been very busy…
Tell us about your time in Glasgow.
I wake up to the buzz of Sauchiehall Street below my window, with the powerful Mackintosh Building being re-assembled right in front of my very eyes. It’s an invigorating way for the day to begin as an art school student. Glasgow has such a free energy, which feeds into The Glasgow School of Art massively, producing so many compelling artists and designers. The uplifting ethos of GSA has not only allowed me to begin to blossom as a creative designer, but also as a person.
The lockdown has forced you to move from Glasgow back to your roots in rural Orkney. How has this change in scenery affected your work and creative process?
At first the transition felt overwhelming, as I had to leave behind the stimulating studio environment, a place where I’m constantly surrounded by the exciting work and discussions of my peers, and return to the life I packed away two years ago.
Like many students returning home, after building such a vibrant life away, home can often feel distorted – a place where you once belonged but don’t anymore. But this time returning back to to the old stone house I grew up in, surrounded by twinkling waters, looking on to the rolling Hoy hills, I felt endless amounts of gratitude. I’ve began to appreciate quiet island life in relation to my creativity. The initial change from the bustling city to the countryside has sparked new thinking processes for me.
Talk us through your working space, what’s the setup?
One of my favourite places to work, is in our unfinished conservatory, where I can sit surrounded by rose bushes and hear the birds singing all day. It’s a dream!
In your new project ‘Metamorphosis’ you explore the idea behind ‘the beauty of change,’ Tell us more about the project.
Metamorphosis is a community space designed for those with hair and skin conditions. It aims to help them familiarise, rehabilitate, and restore the scalp, skin and soul. I have taken inspiration from my own experience with alopecia, depicting the shapes and forms of my own scalp. I make large use of bespoke terrazzo, which embodies the forms of alopecia areata, and the irregularity of skin conditions like acne, vitiligo and eczema. As the interior is freely dappled with these shapes, people can begin to see the beauty in the shapes their bodies hold too.
Metamorphosis - Thermal Pools featuring shapes that have been traced and upscaled from the alopecia patches on Mollie’s head.
You explain in your project how metamorphosis is ‘a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one.’ Like everyone else in the world, within just a few short days our working practices, rituals and lifestyles have changed out of all recognition. How do you cope with change personally and creatively?
Ever since I was a child, I would say change has been something I have found particularly difficult. It was often the cause of stress, resulting in hair loss. However, as I have matured, I have managed to shift this mindset through my creative practice. I’ve realised that it is in fact change that propels my work forward, and keeps me on my toes. I now tend to crave it and see it as a window of opportunity for growth as opposed to associating it with sadness and loss. I think as humans we like to stay safe and avoid as much change as possible. I feel as though the current situation will expose many to their inner strength.
Throughout lockdown you have been creating pieces of art that explore humanities reactions to isolation. They will be available as prints and booklets, with 10% of profits going to Woman’s Aid.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your Isolation Series
Adapting to lockdown life, I felt as though my body was itching to create and highlight the positives of solitude. When we are alone we can truly appreciate what is around us, but also listen inwards to our minds and souls. I believe for many of us, we have an opportunity to re-enter daily life with an uplifted energy. Which I felt was a necessity to communicate through my Isolation Series.
I’ve been having powerful dreams lately, full of dappled sunlight and colour. I think this is where the dreamy aesthetic of my visuals came from for my Isolation Series.
You capture beautifully in your Isolation Series how lockdown has created for many of us a newfound appreciation of the ‘little things’ in life:
“But didn’t the people get bored being trapped in their homes? The people got incredibly bored, sometimes it felt unbearable, however within these moments they noticed things they never had before, like birds gliding past their window, the sun’s hues and the delicate shadows their homes created. This connected them back to their spirituality, which often got lost prior to isolation, due to the rush of everyday life. Once the virus passed people remembered to take time out to notice these small precious moments.”
Apart from the ‘little things’ of everyday life, what else has been brining you joy and inspiration?
In Praise of Shadows by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, an essay on Japanese aesthetics which gives me goosebumps every time I read it. Another book I read recently is The Comfort of Things by Daniel Miller, where he enters the homes of thirty individuals who all live on the same street and reflects on the relationship between their identities and the interiors which they inhabit.
The space around us seems more important now than ever, as we are all confined to the four walls around us. The home has regained an even greater importance by becoming our refuge in recent weeks. Do you think this experience could spark new perceptions in how we view interiors and the importance of space around us?
This time has been particularly interesting for myself and my studies in interior design. Due to isolation the interiors we inhabit have become central to our lives, which is a rather powerful shift in society. For many people, I think it has been a time to massively reflect on the way in which society has been living, and whether we have been creating a society which in fact tormented us more than nurturing our natural needs. I think the future is full of exciting new prospects for design.