News posted here dates from April 2021. For other news items, see my curriculum vitae. Most recent items are at the top. Scroll down to read older items
New Article, The Importance of Place
The article for Luminate, Scotland's creative ageing organisation, was published on 1st August 2022. I am a great fan of Luminate, for their advocacy of creative activity for older people as well as for older artists, like myself. In 2013 our Cold War Projects received a Luminate Commission for Recount. It was such a joy to work with their Director, Anne Gallagher, who made the effort to come to Shetland. Subsequently she has generously offered her time to give talks for students on our MA Art and Social Practice. at UHI Shetland. Luminate is now ten years old and has developed so impressively. Earlier this year I was invited to take part in a Roundtable discussion to help them identify ways to move forward. It is a "listening" organisation not only because it asks the people with whom they work for feedback but because they act on this feedback.
Image: Recount, Sumburgh Post. Cold War Projects 2013.
Nordic Connections: Learning from the past to shape the future
In my role as Research Fellow in UHI Shetland, I was part of the team which delivered this pilot project, along with my collaborative partner in Cold War Projects, Susan Timmins. We explored two issues that threaten contemporary society — catastrophic climate change and nuclear disaster — through dialogue and mutual creative enquiry by young people, university researchers, partner organisations and individual members of the local island communities. The project linked two communities, the island of Unst in Shetland and two islands, Onøy and Lurøy in northern Norway. The islands share histories as well as a deep concern for the future viability of our planet. Through the course of the project we also learned about a range of other common issues and qualities linked to daily life.
Partner organisations include: Baltasound Junior High School, Unst; Nord Universitet, Campus Nesna; Northern Isles Community Development, Shetland Islands Council; Onøy/Lurøy Skole; Centre for Island Creativity, Shetland UHI; Moray College UHI; Unst Heritage Centre.
As part of the project we produced a prototype game, developed by Finlay MacDonald. You can access it here.
Home and Belonging
The Home and Belonging Exhibition took place from February to May 2022 at Da Gadderie, Shetland Museum and Archives, as part of the Festival of Care: Tending the Light.
The exhibition is part of the larger Home and Belonging project, which was an arts-based exploration of home and belonging founded on mutual creative enquiry by care experienced young people alongside their communities. The project started in 2019 and was led by the Centre for Island Creativity at UHI Shetland in partnership with Who Cares? Scotland. This work is supported with funding from the Life Changes Trust. The Trust is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.
The core of Home and Belonging is the #ShetlandCrew: a group of amazing young, care experienced people who are working to improve things for those who come after them. I was part of the core team with Dr Siún Carden (UHI Shetland) and Sian Wild (Who Cares? Scotland).
The exhibition includes a wide range of work the young people have made with film maker Rozi Peters, poet Jen Hadfield, Minecraft artist Adam Clarke, theatre director Tony McBride and me. I led a short project during the first year of the pandemic based on the Swap Shots project I originally created in 2007.
You can access the catalogue here.
A selection of images from my body of work Landscape in Pain was selected for the annual Relate North exhibition, Everyday Extremes. The exhibition presents a diverse collection of visions and insights on the broader perspective of collaborative practices in design, art, research and education within the Arctic region.
Everyday Extremes focuses on a more specific perspective of human and non-human wellbeing in the Arctic region. The concept of extremes aims to highlight and describe the particular sensitivity that enables and supports creative and sustainable interaction between human/non-human actors and the everchanging, severe environment of the Arctic. Moreover, with the current speed of climate change, when the notion of the extreme environment is to be expanded towards most parts of the "Spaceship Earth" in the next 20-50 years, the challenges of nature and their social and cultural implications will call for a creative response.
The virtual exhibition includes artworks by 50 artists and designers from 8 different countries. The collection builds strongly on multidisciplinary arts. In addition to visual arts, there are artworks using video, installations and design products, architecture and painting. The virtual exhibition is designed and arranged by the Arctic Design School, National Research Tomsk State University, in collaboration with the ASAD thematic network coordinated by the University of Lapland. The Curator Svetlana Usenyuk-Kravchuk is the head of the Arctic Design School and a senior researcher at Tomsk State University.
Link to virtual exhibition: http://arcticdesign.school/relatenorth2021
Download the exhibition catalogue: Relate North 2021 exhibition catalogue(pdf)
I also gave a presentation in the related Symposium. You can find the programme and links to the recordings of each session here.
Hidden Flowers Bloom Most Beautifully
This group exhibition brings together the work of 16 contemporary artists from Shetland and Switzerland is open during August 2021.
The exhibition is the result of ongoing dialogue between eight artists based in Shetland and eight artists based in Appenzell Ausserrhoden, a rural area in the east of Switzerland. Each artist has explored the perceived geographic limits of the art world, viewed from these two rural locations.
Artists Paul Bloomer, Daniel Clark, Amy Gear, Aimee Labourne, Vivian Ross-Smith, Roxane Permar, Andrew Sutherland and Roseanne Watt make-up the Shetland cohort, whilst Caroline Baur, Florian Gugger, Martina Morger, Maria Nänny, Dorothea Rust, Harlis Schweizer, Birgit Widmer and Wassili Widmer represent the Swiss contribution.
Hidden Flowers takes place at Mareel from Saturday 31 July to Friday 27 August 2021. The exhibition is supported by the Swiss Arts Council (Pro Helvetia), Creative Scotland and Shetland Arts with support from Swiss galleries and individuals - Steinegg Stiftung, Dr. Fred Styger Stiftung, Susanne and Martin Knechtli-Kradolfer-Stiftung, TISCA Tischhauser Stiftung, Metrohm Stiftung, Stiftung für Ostschweizer Kunstschaffen, Kulturförderung Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Innerrhoder Kunststiftung.
Photo: Film still from my series of digital images and films, Landscape in Pain. Photo used is courtesy Sustainable Shetland.
New Web Site - Landscape in Pain
This wind farm (VEWF) is industrial scale and will become one of the largest onshore wind farms in Europe. Construction commenced in September 2020, after many years of public debate and local dissent. It coincided with lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been painful to watch the VEWF construction make visible inroads to the landscape, like an occupying force, violating our land, which has been made vulnerable and helpless in the face of the human hand of destruction. I have questioned the potential impact of low level noise and infrasound since it was first proposed, and made work about this issue for an exhibition over ten years ago in Shetland at Vaila Fine Art. Making art work for this project helps to mend the pain I feel as well as creating artefacts that record my response to the destruction. The VEWF has severely divided the Shetland community, and is a cause for collective pain.
Landscape of Mutability
On Line Mail Art Exhibition for the research project, Landscape of Mutability, initiated by the University of Glasgow.
Participation in this project involved sending three postcards to the researchers by late May 2021 for an online exhibition. Participants across Scotland, were asked to explore how landscapes are experienced in a time of limited movement. This project aims to help us reflect on the insights brought by enforced immobility and consider how different media can contribute to a sense of community. Lockdown restrictions have enabled me to refresh my connection to Shetland and reacquaint with the Shetland landscape more deeply, bringing sharp focus to my view of it. In particular I have experienced increasing despair about our relation to the environment. It has been painful to watch the VEWF construction make visible inroads to the landscape, like an occupying force, violating our land. My friend and colleague Susan Timmins suggested doing something about the Viking Energy Wind Farm, such as writing postcards to future generations of Shetlanders to apologise for the horrible legacy it is creating. My post cards for this exhibition have formed the starting point for a new project, Landscape in Pain.