Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation

25 Jan 2020 – 22 Mar 2020
Gallery 1, The Lighthouse, 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, Scotland

Artists include Nicky Bird, Susan Brind, Justin Carter, Alan Currall, Marianne Greated, Christina McBride, Shauna McMullan, Michail Mersinis, Lesley Punton, Frances Robertson, Ross Sinclair, Michael Stumpf, Amanda Thomson, Gina Wall and Hugh Watt.

This exhibition brought together the work of sixteen The Glasgow School of Art researchers, who are part of a research group called ‘Reading Landscape’.

Collaboration is a vital part of the Reading Landscape Group Ethos. This show included collaborative works: Nicky Bird with Alice Andrews; Sue Brind with Jim Harold; Alex Hale, Historic Environment Scotland; Creative Centre for Fluid Territories members and Rachael Flynn.

Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation
Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation:
The flickr portfolio, March 2020

Exhibition Review, The Scotsman, 4 March 2020

TOP IMAGE: Alan Currall, ‘Four Pools, Wanlock Dod,’  2019

Practising Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation Symposium, 19 & 20 March 2020

Professor Ross Sinclair prepares for the Symposium, 8 March 2020

Postponed due to COVID 19.

Practising Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation is a symposium organised by the Reading Landscape Research Group, formed by artist-academics from the School of Fine Art at Glasgow School of Art. The symposium was due to take place on 19 and 20 March 2020, as the closing event that informs an exhibition of work, under the same title, by Reading Landscape Research Group members. Both the exhibition (which ran until Tuesday 17 March 2020) and the symposium were to be held together at The Lighthouse, Glasgow. Ticket costs £20 and £70, with allocation of free tickets to GSA Postgraduate Taught and Research students.

The symposium will be re-scheduled later in the year. 

The format of the Symposium includes two invited Keynote speakers – Ingrid Pollard and Dr Louise Purbrick – followed by thematic sessions chaired by a respondent from the Reading Landscape Group.

Presentations contributing to the Symposium, were selected through an open call and double peer review process. The symposium continues to draw on themes informed by an exhibition.They further the discussion of four key themes of interest:

– Histories (including land ownership, commons, cultural perspectives, border territories, heritage and preservation);

 – Wild spaces (including peripheral territories, deserts, forests or ideas of remoteness);

 – People and Place (including alternative voices and experiences of landscape including embodiment and auto-ethnographic practices);

 – Contentious Landscapes (including sustainability, interventions, conservation and ecology).

About the Speakers:

Keynote: Ingrid Pollard

Mixed-media artist and researcher, Ingrid Pollard uses digital, analogue and alternative photographic processes, also incorporating printmaking, image-text and artist books, installation, video and audio. Pollard studied Film and Video at the London College of Printing and MA in Photographic Studies, University of Derby and holds a PhD from the University of Westminster. She was one of twenty founding members of Autograph (the Association of Black Photographers), and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. In 2018, Pollard was the Inaugural Stuart Hall Research Fellow in the same year. She has worked as an artist-in-residence at a number of organisations, including Project Row Houses, Houston Texas, US, 2004; Croydon College of Art, 2011; and Glasgow Women’s Library, 2019. Her work has been exhibited widely, including Tate Britain, Victoria & Albert Museum & Photographers Gallery, London; NGBK, Berlin; the Caribbean Cultural Centre, New York; the National Art Gallery of Barbados; and Camerawork, San Francisco. In 2019, she received the BALTIC Artist Award and was a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award.

Ingrid Pollard is presently in residence at Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL), as part of Glasgow International 2020. Having taken part in GI2018 with Deep Down Body Thirst, curated by Radclyffe Hall, Ingrid returns to Glasgow and the festival with a new exhibition exploring Lesbian history and culture.

Keynote: Dr Louise Purbrick (Principal Lecturer, History of Art, University of Brighton)

Louise Purbrick is an academic and activist who works on sites of political and ecological violence. With Ignacio Acosta and Xavier Ribas, she is part of the Traces of Nitrate collective that has examined the historical legacies of nitrate mining the Atacama Desert, Chile. Their recent photographic installation, Trafficking the Earth (2017), has been exhibited in London, UK, Santiago, Chile, and Huesca, Spain (tracesofnitrate.org). Louise has written widely on the remote or neglected places of exploitation, conflict and imprisonment. She is an editor with Jim Aulich and Graham Dawson of Contested Spaces: Sites, Histories and Representations (Palgrave, 2007) and co-author with John Schofield of ‘Brixton: Landscape of a Riot’ published in Landscapes (2009). She is currently completing a book, ‘An Architecture of Conflict: A History of the H Blocks’. Louise Purbrick is Principal Lecturer in the History of Art, University of Brighton.

Histories:

Seán Laoide-Kemp (Masters by Research student, IADT Dún Laoghaire), Landscape as Witness: Aftermath Photography, Oral History, and Ethnography in Representing the Public Works Scheme of the Great Irish Famine. 

Joe Crowdy (PhD student, Oslo School of Art and Design), ‘Writing Rack Fen: 1583-1606 and 2019-20’ 

Dr Frances Robertson (Lecturer, Design History & Theory, The Glasgow School of Art) ‘Alien Introductions: trees, memory and landscape history’

Wild Spaces:

Dr Nalini Paul (Lecturer, Fine Art Critical Studies and Design History & Theory, The Glasgow School of Art), ‘Embodying Language in Wild Spaces: Place, Memory and Transformation’

Dr Elizabeth A. Hodson (Lecturer in Fine Art Critical Studies, The Glasgow School of Art), ‘The Posthuman Sublime: The Art Practice of Katie Paterson’

Sam Nightingale (PhD Candidate, Goldsmiths, University of London), ‘Salt: a crystal image of time’

People and Place:

Nicky Bird (Reader in Contemporary Photographic Practice, The Glasgow School of Art), ‘Raging’

Jordan Whitewood-Neale (M. Arch student, University of Brighton), ‘Epistemological Hinterlands: Non-Normative Embodiment and Sublime Perceptions of Landscape’

Dr Jo Vergunst (Senior Lecturer, University of Aberdeen), ‘Exploring landscape decision-making with the arts: agency, scale and temporality’

Contentious Landscapes:

Minty Donald (Professor of Contemporary Performance Practice, University of Glasgow, artist), ‘Erratic Drift: approaching human geological performance’

Jane Brettle (Practicing Artist) ‘Mine – walking’

Jasper Coppes (Artist/ tutor, Royal Academy of Art, The Hague), ‘Nature Represents Itself’

While the exhibition had at its heart contemporary art practice and practice-led research in diverse visual disciplines, the Symposium also welcomed proposals from a diverse range of disciplines – such as archaeology, architecture, design, ecology, geography, literature, music, virtual reality etc – and reflected in contributions from the selected twelve speakers that respond to the themes in inter-disciplinary ways.

Symposium: Keynote Speakers

The Glasgow School of Art’s Reading Landscape research group is delighted to announce two keynote speakers, Ingrid Pollard and Louise Purbrick, for the symposium Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation symposium, 19 & 20 March 2020 at The Lighthouse, Glasgow.

Mixed-media artist and researcher, Ingrid Pollard uses digital, analogue and alternative photographic processes, also incorporating printmaking, image-text and artist books, installation, video and audio. Pollard studied Film and Video at the London College of Printing and MA in Photographic Studies, University of Derby and holds a PhD from the University of Westminster. She was one of twenty founding members of Autograph (the Association of Black Photographers), and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. In 2018, Pollard was the Inaugural Stuart Hall Research Fellow in the same year. She has worked as an artist-in-residence at a number of organisations, including Project Row Houses, Houston Texas, US, 2004; Croydon College of Art, 2011; and Glasgow Women’s Library, 2019. Her work has been exhibited widely, including Tate Britain, Victoria & Albert Museum & Photographers Gallery, London; NGBK, Berlin; the Caribbean Cultural Centre, New York; the National Art Gallery of Barbados; and Camerawork, San Francisco. In 2019, she received the BALTIC Artist Award and was a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award.

Ingrid Pollard
Photo: Emile Holba

Ingrid Pollard is presently in residence at Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL), as part of Glasgow International 2020. Having taken part in GI2018 with Deep Down Body Thirst, curated by Radclyffe Hall, Ingrid returns to Glasgow and the festival with a new exhibition exploring Lesbian history and culture. 

Louise Purbrick is an academic and activist who works on sites of political and ecological violence. With Ignacio Acosta and Xavier Ribas, she is part of the Traces of Nitrate collective that has examined the historical legacies of nitrate mining the Atacama Desert, Chile. Their recent photographic installation, Trafficking the Earth (2017), has been exhibited in London, UK, Santiago, Chile, and Huesca, Spain. Louise has written widely on the remote or neglected places of exploitation, conflict and imprisonment. She is an editor with Jim Aulich and Graham Dawson of Contested Spaces: Sites, Histories and Representations (Palgrave, 2007) and co-author with John Schofield of ‘Brixton: Landscape of a Riot’ published in Landscapes (2009). She is currently completing a book, An Architecture of Conflict: A History of the H Blocks.

Louise Purbrick is Principal Lecturer in the History of Art, University of Brighton.

TOP IMAGE: (top) Alan Currall, ‘Four Pools, Wanlock Dod’ (2019)

Early 20th Century women photographers and filmmakers in Scotland

The main aim of this ongoing research is to show the breadth of work the women made, inspired by highland and island landscapes, as well as Scotland’s city life.


Jenny Brownrigg (The Glasgow School of Art)

Research themes include how the women recorded communities; the ways in which they captured historically significant moments and often changes to ways of life, work and industry; how they observed; how they observed place and nature; and how they recorded the place of women in both rural and city society. This research will result in a survey exhibition at City Art Centre, Edinburgh, in early 2022.

Brownrigg is currently researching thirteen women, including Edinburgh photographer Violet Banks (1886-1985). Veronica Fraser, an archivist at Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) wrote about Banks’ life in
‘Vernacular Buildings’ (P67-78, ‘Vernacular Building 32’, Scottish Vernacular Buildings Working Group 2008-2009, ISSN:0267-3088):

Violet Banks (1886-1985) was born near Kinghorn, Fife and educated at Craigmont, Edinburgh, and at ECA (Edinburgh College of Art). In 1927 she was senior arts mistress at St. Oran’s, a private school at Drummond Place, Edinburgh’.

Banks’ photographs of the Hebrides were the result of a tour she made during the late 1920s / early 1930s. In 1935, Violet Banks established her own commercial photography studio in Edinburgh, going on to take numerous photographs of Scotland’s capital city.

A Day in Edinburgh, (1934, Grant & Murray), Photographs by Violet Banks and J. Campbell Harper, writing by H.B. Kay

In Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation, Brownrigg presents ten original photographs that Banks’ produced as postcards as well as one brochure entitled ‘A Day in Edinburgh’ (1934, Grant & Murray). Brownrigg has collected these items via separate eBay purchases, an action mirroring the precarity of women’s work in archives. Indeed, Banks’ own photography of the Highlands and Islands only came to light when discovered by John Dixon of Georgian Antiques, in a drawer in a sideboard that had been part of a furniture purchase and then gifted to Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) to become The Violet Banks Collection.

Exhibiting Artists: Shauna McMullan

Shauna McMullan considers time and landscape. SITTING is an ongoing series of actions created for and in response to specific locations on the edges of Europe; places with complicated historical, geographic and political landscape identities.

The first SITTING took place in Agios Sozomenos, Cyprus, next to the UN controlled Green Line separating the south and north of the island. The second was in Telavag, on the edge of the west coast of Norway; a village deleted from maps during World War II by German occupation forces.  On 31stJanuary 2020, coinciding with the Practising Landscape Exhibition in the Lighthouse, she marked what was Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland’s last day in the European Union, by sitting on the Scottish / English border at Scots’ Dike.

SITTING – Agios Sozomenos, Cyprus
33°3’57”N 33°26’18”E      
25 March 2018 (10am – 5pm)      
Photo: Duncan Higgins

The deserted village of Agios Sozomenos is 30km east of Nicosia in Cyprus.  Until 1964, the village was mixed, inhabited by Greek and Turkish Cypriots, but the last residents fled during the 1974 conflict and were displaced to nearby villages.  The UN controlled Green Line, which divides the north and south of the island, runs along the side of the village and a UN look out post situated on this line was McMullan’s point of focus throughout.

SITTING – TelavagNorway 
60°15’46”N 04°59’11”E      
14 November 2018 (9.30am – 4.30pm)       
Photo: Jane Sverdrupsen 

Telavag is a fishing village situated on the very west coast of Norway. The village was deleted from maps during World War II by German occupation forces and subsequently rebuilt by surviving families who returned following the end of the war. Looking west is the North Sea and Shetland, to the east is Bergen, central Norway and Sweden.  The small hill from where villagers were taken, on 30thApril 1942, to watch the burning of their homes was McMullan’s point of focus throughout.

SCOTLAND AT MY TOES, ENGLAND AT THE TIPS OF MY FINGERS
Scots’ Dike, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland / England
NY 3307 7367 NY 3872 7319
31stJanuary 2020 (10am – 5pm)
Photo: Shauna McMullan

On 31stJanuary McMullan marked what was Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland’s last day in the European Union, by sitting on the Scottish / English border at Scots’ Dike.  Scots’ Dike is a three and a half mile long, low, interrupted earth ditch, constructed by the Scots and English in 1552 to mark the division of the Debatable Lands and to define a section of the border between Scotland and England. It is currently under mixed land-use. 

TOP IMAGE: Shauna McMullan GONE SITTING
2 colour photos, stool, text.

Installation view. Photo: Jack McCombe

Portal

Hugh Watt’s work aims through a practice-led research approach to explore the relationship between nature, culture and spirituality within the Scottish landscape.

Hugh Watt (The Glasgow School of Art), Martin Wildgoose (Archaeologist / AOC Archaeologist Group) 

portal-bone passage 02 red 2

Portal-Bone Passage 57° 12’ 50’’ N, 6° 0’ 40’’ W, (2019/20), Hugh Watt

Through inter-disciplinary enquiry with archaeologist Martin Wildgoose, Watt has been undertaking field trips to two locations on Skye, namely High Pasture Cave and Cave of the Seed. Watt is interested in how these sites, from mid bronze age, through to the Iron age, were occupied and used during the mid-bronze age and iron age, prior to its closure in 80 BC. In particular, Watt’s research has drawn on the use of these underground spaces as ceremonial spaces. For the exhibition Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation, Watt shows new video work which explores the notion of a threshold or liminal space, within landscape that connects the physical with the spiritual. In addition, he exhibits a new piece which works with a 3D scan of, the cave’s area known as ‘Bone Passage’. Watt has experimented with having a scaled down 3D print, cast in plaster, which is about the size of a human spine. He is interested in how this print can make reference to the human body and also tree roots, trees being that which was understood to sit between the physical and the spiritual.

Portal-Slippage, (2019-20). 2 channel video, 200cm x 226cm, Hugh Watt

 

TOP IMAGE: Hugh Watt, Portal-Bone Passage 57° 12’ 50’’ N, 6° 0’ 40’’ W, (2019/20), (Detail)

Revisiting two works: Raging Dyke Network (2012) and Heritage Site (2014–2016)

The aim for revisiting two works for the exhibition Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation was to demonstrate how the vernacular postcard has been instrumental in leading to alternative voices that reveal a landscape’s latent histories.

Raging Dyke Network: Nicky Bird (The Glasgow School of Art), Alice Andrews (volunteer, Glasgow Women’s Library)

Heritage Site (2020, Version 1): Nicky Bird, Stuart Jeffrey, Clare Graham & Mike Marriott (The Glasgow School of Art), Calder History Group, Mark Daniels (New Media Scotland), Isabella Mason Kirk and family.

This research takes two existing works in which the vernacular postcard has been instrumental in leading to alternative voices that reveal a landscape’s latent histories. By revisiting Raging Dyke Network (originally 2012) and restaging Heritage Site
(originally 2014-2016
) in 2020, Bird considers the passage of time for both works, and the collaborations so essential to their realization. For Heritage Site, this has shifted from living memory to history as the work’s storyteller – and her generation – has now passed. For Raging Dyke Network, the cultural landscape of LGBTQ and accompanying discourses have evolved significantly.

Raging Dyke Network (RDN) was commissioned by Glasgow Women’s Library. Raging Dyke Network was a group of radical separatist lesbians active in the late 1990s. It spanned across 52 locations from the UK, Europe, Canada and USA. At the network’s centre was an activist in Norwich, who donated materials – including personal letters and zines –o the Glasgow Women’s Library and the Lesbian Archive in 2000. The postcard series represents the network’s scale and makes visible an overlooked history, without revealing personal and political content of a group who identified themselves through their separatist gender politics.

Installation detail, 20 January, 2020
Heritage Site (2020, Version 1) by Nicky Bird

Heritage Site (2014-2016) centred on an industrial heritage landmark known as the ‘Five Sisters’ on the edge of West Calder, West Lothian in Central Scotland. 240 metres high, these spoil heaps, products of the oil shale mining industry active in the 19th century until the early 1960s, were given Scheduled Ancient Monument status in the 1990s. Heritage Site responded to local community memory of a house that is buried deep within the Five Sisters. Prompted by an Edwardian postcard of Westwood House and the memories of Isabella Mason Kirk, the project asked how can art and heritage visualisation practices come together to investigate a site of layered histories, memory and imagination?

TOP LEFT IMAGE: Raging Dyke Network, 2011: No 2 of 20, Nicky Bird with Alice Andrews
Courtesy the artist and Glasgow Women’s Library

TOP RIGHT IMAGE: Heritage Site, 2014-2016, Nicky Bird
Photographic postcard, photographer R. Braid c.1910. Courtesy the artist and Davie Rennie

National Islands Plan — Embedded Artist

Following work undertaken on the ‘Law, Arts & Island Resilience’ project, Susan Brind and Monica Laiseca (GSA) invited visual artists living on Scottish islands to apply for a Residency and Commission responding to the development of Scotland’s first ever National Islands Plan. The selected artist, Saoirse Higgins, joined the consultation team on a number of events taking place on different islands in the summer of 2019. Higgins is producing new work based on this experience for exhibition.

Monica Laiseca, Susan Brind, (The Glasgow School of Art), Islands Team (Scottish Government)

Saoirse Higgins, the artist selected to be National Islands Plan – Embedded Artist, is based on Papa Westray; a small island in Orkney with a population of 88 people. She brings an environmental focus to her work as well as extensive experience of working in community settings. Her work is directly focused on environmental concerns and the sustainability of island life. In addition to undertaking this commission, she is currently in the process of completing PhD research by practice under the title, ‘Survival tools for the Anthropocene’.

Commission funded by Scottish Government.

Exits and Entrances

To find audience-facing forms for translating an ongoing dialogue, between artist and writer, around ideas of the invention of a romantic mythos of a specific landscape.

Alan Currall (The Glasgow School of Art) and Professor Emeritus Colin Cruise (Aberystwyth University)

Over the course of a year, and along a regular walking route, Currall produced a series of photographs of small, but modestly spectacular, hill pools in the Scottish Southern Uplands. These pools, formed as a result of historical lead mining activity in the area, sit atop the hill that stands behind Currall’s home.

When a friend and former tutor, Emeritus Professor of Art History, Colin Cruise saw these photographs he felt compelled to respond through a collection of poems written from the perspective of these pools. Currall’s own existing research around ideas of knowledge, belief and perception found a provocative foil in Cruise’s interest in the Romantic, and the imaginative potential of invented mythology. During an extended period of dialogue they worked on several ideas for the future development of this project, which may include a publication and/or exhibition.

In this particular work, for the Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation exhibition, Currall has reworked a number of these photographs for video, and created a soundtrack to accompany Cruise’s own readings of a selection of his poems.

Installation View. Alan Currall, ‘Exits and Entrances’, 2020; Video with sound (20 mins)
Photo: Jack McCombe

Exits and Entrances, 2020 from Alan Currall on Vimeo.

TOP IMAGES: Alan Currall, stills from the video Exits and Entrances, (2020)

Exhibiting Artists: Susan Brind and Jim Harold

Susan Brind and Jim Harold’s contribution to Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation comprises three elements: ‘Looking South – Facing North’, a painted area of wall and vinyl text; 3 x Digital Photographic prints from within the Cyprus Buffer Zone, also known as the ‘Dead Zone’; and Letter worksa selection of letters specifically relating to Cyprus, extracted from a larger series of works known as ‘Coffee Letters’.  The artists are interested in the politics of landscape and our of physical experience of place.  This specific body of work relates to their visits to the UN De-militarized Buffer Zone in Cyprus, a country which has been divided since 1974 and contains the only politically divided city in Europe.  This new configuration of work is part of an ongoing collaborative project with CCFT (Creative Centre for Fluid Territories, People, Places and Processes, an international research grouping started in 2016).  The differing modes of representation presented here aim to de-stabilise any singular reading of place within what is a very complex political history. It also enters the Buffer Zone itself as a liminal space of otherness.  

Susan Brind and Jim Harold
‘Untitled – from the ‘Coffee Letters’ series’, 2000 ongoing; Archival digital print on paper, presented on lecterns and table.
Photo: Jack McCombe

TOP IMAGE: Susan Brind and Jim Harold,‘Untitled – from the ‘Buffer Zone’ series’, 2016; Three archival digital prints. Photo: Jack McCombe

Exhibiting Artists: Ross Sinclair

How can the process of practice-led research make visible the contradictions of a wild and beautiful landscape punctuated by weapons of mass destruction secreted deep within the military industrial complex? What could be the most appropriate ‘voice’ through which to reflect the complex paradox of questions emanating from this heavily coded landscape? 

Ross Sinclair aims to interrogate the agency of an individual art practice set against such a coded landscape, proposing a new constellation for the Lighthouse, seeking to explore empathetic formal manifestations conjured by these questions where certain forms, for example, the photographic or aural, may be too fixed or formalised to simply readthis particular landscape.

Over a full Calendar year, Sinclair repeatedly walked a 10km route along the spine of the Rosneath Peninsula in close proximity to the Nuclear Submarine Bases at Coulport and Faslane, on the Firth of Clyde – Gare Loch/Loch Long. This investigation was undertaken in all seasons and in all weather, with Sinclair observing and documenting the changes in light, weather flora and fauna at the destination of the walk: Trig Point OSBM S5140. 

However, for this manifestation of the research the images and sounds collected are put to one side and instead a vignette is created conjuring a palimpsest of reflections and reveries  conjured by this repeated journey. The works are further informed by Sinclair listening, while walking, to a series of audio books and lectures charting one paradigm of the culmination of human knowledge and understanding; The history of Philosophy, from the Pre-Socratics around the 7thand 6thCenturies BCE, walking through 2500 subsequent years toward the 21stCentury. As the distances and the knowledge accrues, the landscape itself becomes a dark mirror reflecting the end game of this rarefied philosophical discussion of Epistemology and Ontology. This knowledge and sense of being and ceasing to exist  troubles our thoughts, as the cognitive dissonance of this sublime landscape with its invisible underground stores of Armageddon repeatedly fails to resolve into focus. 

A series of T-Shirts are displayed announcing, ‘The Real Life Nuclear and Philosophical Resurrectionists Research Ramblers Society: Faslane & Coalport Chapter.’

Why not sign up for membership today?

Sinclair sees this new work as a manifestation of discussions around coded landscape themes undertaken as part of ‘Reading Landscape’ Research Group’s enquiries. Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation offers an opportunity to further develop this research through public dissemination and engagement.  

Ross Sinclair, ‘The Real Life Nuclear and Philosophical Resurrectionists Research Ramblers Society: Faslane & Coulport Chapter,’ 2020, Details and Installation view. Photos: Jack McCombe

TOP IMAGE: Ross Sinclair, ‘The Real Life Nuclear and Philosophical Resurrectionists Research Ramblers Society: Faslane & Coulport Chapter,’ 2020, (Detail). Photo: Jack McCombe