Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Holly Muir–AIR 2016

"My week in Outlandia was more challenging than I expected, but as rewarding as I had hoped. I spent each day there reading, writing and sketching to develop ideas for my installation, the construction of which will begin this month. I began by gathering knowledge about the social history and iconic visuals of Glen Nevis, researching various ideas about wilderness and what it means for cultural identity. I soon felt overwhelmed by the situation I had put myself in. How could I succinctly capture the essence of this beautiful and complex location, a place that I had naively expected to have little human history? My answer was to frame the work around my personal experience and imaginings of the area. I have decided that my installation is going to take the form of a wooden diorama, similar to something you might find in a Natural History Museum. The subject of the scene is the idea of rewilding; the diorama proposes a historical event in which the Glen has been rewilded with Scottish Picts. It will consist of a wooden frieze - depicting a landscape sourced from my photographs and film footage taken during the residency - which provides a backdrop for two figurative sculptures that are dressed in hand-made costumes. It will be a playful work, but should provoke thoughts about real issues within the Scottish landscape. I found Outlandia an incredibly peaceful and inspiring environment and am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work there."

Holly Muir is an artist who uses historical and fictional narratives as a basis for timber installations, which also often include textiles, figurative painting and printing. She is interested in romantic tropes, mass-media imagery and notions of authenticity. Holly also designs stage sets.

All images courtesy the artist

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Exhibition in the Window, Caol, Fort William

Stories from the Glen

[wish] [miann] brings together the work of two Lochaber based artists, Jen Deschenes and Ali Berardelli who have created a series of images and text in response to time spent in Glen Nevis at the artist’s treehouse, Outlandia. Exploring local folklore and examining historical objects synonymous with the area Jen and Ali have created a pictorial epitaph representing people and their stories alongside charms and votives used in the past as methods of protection. The exhibition has been showing in the Window, Caol, and is transferring to the West Highland Museum, March–May 2016.

Jen Deschenes and Ali Berardelli are both graduates from Glasgow School of Art and for the two friends this is their first formal collaboration.

Jen was born and brought up in the Shetland Isles and now lives in Spean Bridge. Jen creates sculptural work based on her origins as a textile artist using screen printing, embroidery, and drawing. Storytelling has been at the core of her work and she has a love of exploring new materials and resolving her designs with a variety of mediums.  Ali Berardelli has always lived in Fort William and she is greatly influenced by the community around her and nature and the stories embedded within it.  Ali has been coordinating art projects for many years within Lochaber and alongside this has continued her practice in drawing, collage, photography and typography.

All images courtesy of the artists

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Bethan Maddocks–AIR 2015

It is the penultimate day of the residency so perhaps it is apt that this morning was spent talking about goodbyes and loss. I am surrounded by mountains everywhere and this landscape makes me think of my father who was a keen mountaineer and died 15 years ago. It makes me wonder of how much these mountains have seen, how many passings, how much change over the millennia and epochs since they were born and shaped out of ice and fire.
This landscape is poetic and Outlandia is a place of solitude but not loneliness, a place of contemplation and connection. [Extracted from Bethan Maddocks' web site.] 
Read more here.

All images courtesy the artist

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Claire MacLeod–AIR October 2015

Claire Macleod explored clans, calligraphy & culture during her Outlandia residency. "The stories of people who have lived in the glen through ages and generations was especially interesting, and having studied these stories and met some of the people who have lived in the glen in the past century, I cannot fail to see the place in the context of these stories. This is especially true when walking across the Peat Track, past the pathway into Outlandia and down into the glen. It is because of the Nevis area that I moved to Lochaber and is a place I hold very dear. I have been on the Board of Trustees for a charity called Friends of Nevis since 2011, whose aim is to help the local community look after and manage Ben Nevis and the surrounding landscape. In the past year I have enjoyed exploring grafted calligraphy and would like to work with words and stories from people who have lived in Glen Nevis, giving them a voice, using text and textiles. Although I am mainly involved in design and film, I would welcome the opportunity to explore stitched word further".
Claire speaks briefly about her residency in the following video.

Video courtesy the artist

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture published by Ashgate

  • Edited by Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson, both at London Fieldworks, UK and Tracey Warr, Oxford Brookes University, UK
  • This book explores the relationship between place and forms of thought and creative activity, relating Outlandia and the artists there to the tradition of generative thinking and making structures that have included Goethe’s Gartenhaus in Weimar, Henry Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond and Dylan Thomas’s writing shack in Laugharne.

    Based on a series of residencies and radio broadcasts produced by London Fieldworks in collaboration with Resonance 104.4fm, the Remote Performances project enabled twenty invited artists to consider and engage in transmissions, sound performances and dialogues on their artmaking strategies immersed in this specific rural environment of mountain, forest and river; flora and fauna. Some artists engaged in dialogue with people living and working in the area with a range of specialisms and experience in, for examples, forestry, mountain culture, wildlife, tourism, and local history. This book explores the ways in which being in the field impacts on artists and permeates through to the artworks they create. It considers the relationship between geography and contemporary art and artists’ use of maps and fieldwork. It charts these artists’ explorations of the ecological and cultural value of the natural environment, questioning our perceptions and relationships to landscape, climate and their changes. The book is an inspiring collection of ways to think differently about our relationship with the changing natural environment.

    The book includes essays by Jo Joelson, Francis McKee, Tracey Warr and Bruce Gilchrist, and texts, images and drawings by the artists: Bram Thomas Arnold, Ruth Barker, Ed Baxter, Johny Brown, Clair Chinnery, Kirsteen Davidson Kelly, Ben Drew, Alec Finlay & Ken Cockburn, Goodiepal, Sarah Kenchington, London Fieldworks & Mark Vernon, Lisa O’Brien, Lee Patterson, Michael Pedersen, Geoff Sample, Tracey Warr and Tony White, reflecting on the notion of contemporary remoteness and creative responses to Outlandia and its wider context.
  • Contents: Introduction, Jo Joelson; A survey of the terrain, Francis McKee; Kelpies, banshees and pibrochs heard in these parts, Geoff Sample; Like like, Michael Pederson; Selections from The Hut Book, Alec Finlay; From a train, Goodiepal; The sound of Lochaber, London Fieldworks and Mark Vernon; Geo graphy, Tracey Warr; There’s a monster in the nest-box, Clair Chinnery; In search of silence, Lisa O’Brien; Composing with place, Kirsteen Davidson Kelly; A sense of distance, Lee Patterson; Notes for a video, Benedict Drew; The contemporary remote, Bruce Gilchrist; Second sketch for ascent and descent, Ed Baxter; Euphonium at sea, Sarah Kenchington; Notes after a week of wandering, Bram Thomas Arnold; Echo. Genius loci, Ruth Barker; Into Outlandia, Johny Brown; High-lands, Tony White; Endnotes on remoteness, Clair Chinnery, Lisa O’Brien and Bram Thomas Arnold; Further resources; Index.
  • Purchase the book from the Ashgate website with the following 50% discount code: 50DCB15N

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Mike Dodd–AIR

The work I produced during my week in Outlandia was in response to reading Nan Shepherd’s wonderful account of the many years she spent living in, and responding to, the Cairngorms, called ‘The Living Mountain’. Among her observations of natural phenomena in a mountain environment were two which leapt out as bases for artistic activity. The first was this: ‘… the peculiar motion of the current among the ice-floes [in winter] has woven the thousands of floating pine-needles into compacted balls, so intricately intertwined that their symmetrical shape is permanently retained.’ Using glue which I made from natural, organic constituents, I mimicked the formation of these spheres and placed them near the river and streams in Glen Nevis. They would be washed away in autumn’s and winter’s floods.

She also writes: ‘… pluck a feathery grass… hold a sheet of white paper behind it and see how the shadow stands out like an etching… a miracle of exact detail.’ When the sun shone, during a week blessed with good weather, I chose a number of different plants and trees to hold my sheet of white paper behind, before photographing their shadows.

Another activity occurred to me just a day or so before I started my residency. I packed a small, old-fashioned letter stamping kit and used it to stamp Gaelic words on trees and stones in the area around Outlandia. They were words or concepts taken from, or relating to, Nan Shepherd’s book. The one shown here is: MATHAIR (mother/origin or source); [others not shown] SAMHCHADAS (quietness, silence); SAORSA (freedom, liberty); MI-CHINT (uncertainty).

My other activity during the week was to make ‘rain drawings’. I was prepared for the ‘sun shadow’ photos (see above) but realised that I would probably have some rain during my five days’ residency. When it did rain, I stayed in the treehouse at Outlandia and used water-soluble pencils and ink to produce rain trace images, some in the form of monoprints.

All images courtesy the artist.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Justin Carter–AIR September 2015

All images courtesy Justin Carter

One of the first things that struck me about Outlandia is how it remains something of a secret. Few people seemed to know exactly where it was and what exactly it was for. Even finding the treehouse structure became something of an adventure, building up my expectation of what it would be like. This sense of anticipation is further heightened as you finally come across the sign for Outlandia at the beginning of a floating wooden walkway which guides you slowly through the dark forest on the final part of your journey.

Despite, or perhaps because of this hidden and uncertain quality, you do get visitors, and this slow stream of unexpected ‘guests’ reminded me of other residency situations where the artist can become something of a curiosity, an exhibit even - in this case framed within the wooden architectural structure. In a heightened state of (self)consciousness this sense of theatre worked its way gradually into my thinking as I struggled to make sense of the amazing physical location of Outlandia.

My initial proposal asked about ways of making connections with the mountain landscape. Was the lookout architecture an aid or a hindrance in this respect? A breakthrough came as I began to construct rudimentary devices capable of holding pen and paper. With open windows and wind assistance these devices began to slowly perform uncertain movements intimating scribbled drawing or shaky handwriting. I left one such device (made from pig wire and stone) balanced on the studio chair looking out towards Ben Nevis, free to do its thing - free to be discovered by unexpected (and unsuspecting) guests: the artist as automaton. I call this work Waiting for Nature to speak to me. (folly).

Later on, I took these basic devices further up Cow Hill to make more elaborate gestures in the open air. We had a great time. I would now like to further explore these ideas by testing the dynamic possibilities between object (sculptural device), activity (mark making), the physical drawing (paper) and documentation (video or photograph of set-up). Even though there is no real connection between what is drawn and the view (or backdrop), I’m interested in the way the viewer is compelled to make meaningful connections between drawing and landscape. It is this aspect I would like to research further through exhibition and documentation.