The Ghost Artist.
My PhD research project unfolds as both a written and a painterly investigation into a previously unstudied manuscript book of watercolours held in the archives of Glasgow University library. The Manuscript is anonymous and undated: nothing is known of its making and it has only slight provenance. My research began with artistic curiosity and with the uncanny hunch I was looking at the work of an unknown woman artist. I pursue this through close art historical reading of the material object, and seek to date the work, locate it within a culture and place, and consider what sort of artist may have been behind its making. The 52 paintings that make up the book sit on a pivot of time, looking back to natural magic, and forward to both scientific image making and to the pyschologically inward gaze of the early Romantics.
The Ghost Artist is written in the voice of an artist-as-amateur-detective, writing up my findings while wondering what underlies my engagement with such an untimely object that seems to have jumped out at me from a fold in the archive. Ageing, time, and uncertainties of the body and the world seem to connect my own artistic practice to this older unnamed voice, and I consider how such a 'ghost' history seems to require the imaginative gesture of creative work alongside historical research to find an identity that is conversant with today.
Janice McNab studied fine art at both Edinburgh College of Art and Glasgow School of Art and is Head of the MA in Artistic Research at The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. She has exhibited her work widely across Europe.