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

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