Sessions 1-6, ‘Practicing Landscape Land, Histories and Transformation’, 6 Nov – 11 Dec 2020
The symposium Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation was organised by the Reading Landscape Research Group, formed by artist-academics from the School of Fine Art, Exhibitions Department and Design History Theory at the Glasgow School of Art. Read more about the symposium here. This page shares recordings of Sessions 2-6.
All material is subject to copyright of the speakers.
Session 1: KEYNOTE Dr Ingrid Pollard, Respondent Dr Tiffany Boyle (GSA)
Ingrid Pollard is a mixed-media artist and researcher, using digital, analogue and alternative photographic processes, also incorporating printmaking, image-text and artist books, installation, video and audio. This recording is not available for public viewing.
Session 2: WILD SPACES
Speakers: Dr Elizabeth A. Hodson, (Lecturer in Fine Art Critical Studies, GSA), The Posthuman Sublime: The Art Practice of Katie Paterson; Dr Nalini Paul, (Lecturer in Fine Art Critical Studies and Design History and Theory, GSA), Embodying Language in Wild Spaces: Place, Memory and Transformation; Sam Nightingale (PhD Candidate, Goldsmiths), Salt: a crystal image of time; Respondent Justin Carter (GSA)
Session 3: HISTORIES
Speakers: 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 Candidate, Oslo Centre for Critical Architecture Studies), Writing Rack Fen: 1583-1606 and 2019-20; Dr Frances Robertson (Lecturer, GSA) Alien Introductions: trees, memory and landscape history; Respondent Michail Mersinis (GSA)
Session 4: KEYNOTE Dr Louise Purbrick (School of Humanities, University of Brighton), RespondentDr Marianne Greated (GSA)
Session 5: PEOPLE AND PLACE
Speakers: Dr Nicky Bird (GSA), Raging: Revisiting Raging Dyke Network; Jordan Whitewood-Neal (MRes student, University of Brighton), Epistemological Hinterlands: Non-Normative Embodiment and Sublime Perceptions of Landscape; Dr Jo Vergunst (Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen), Exploring landscape decision-making with the arts: agency, scale and temporality; Respondent Dr Frances Robertson (GSA)
Session 6: CONTENTIOUS LANDSCAPES
Speakers: Minty Donald (Professor of Contemporary Performance Practice, University of Glasgow), Erratic Drift: approaching human geological performance; Jane Brettle (Visual Artist, in collaboration with Musician Robin Mason) Mine – walking; Jasper Coppes (Artist / Tutor Royal Academy of Art, The Hague), Mud; Respondent Susan Brind (GSA)
The symposium Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation was organised by the Reading Landscape Research Group, formed by artist-academics from the School of Fine Art, Exhibitions Department and Design History Theory at the Glasgow School of Art.
It ran over six Fridays, from 6 Nov – 12 Dec 2020. The symposium comprised of two Keynote speakers – Ingrid Pollard and Dr Louise Purbrick – and four thematic sessions, each with three 20 minute presentations, chaired by a respondent from the GSA. Read the speakers biographies here
The symposium asked: How do contemporary art and other interdisciplinary practices engage with (and expand) the themes of Land, Histories and Transformation? How can such practices work with contested histories, identities and remoteness in specific locations? What do land and other material practices reveal in terms of transformation, heritage and sustainability? Which practical, creative and critical theoretical frameworks are currently being utilised to interrogate the politics of Land, Histories and Transformation? How can a reflexive curatorial process activate these themes?
The Symposium had four key themes:
Wild spaces (including peripheral territories, deserts, forests or ideas of remoteness);
Histories (including land ownership, commons, cultural perspectives, border territories, heritage and preservation);
People and Place (including alternative voices and experiences of landscape including embodiment and auto-ethnographic practices);
Contentious Landscapes (including sustainability, interventions, conservation and ecology).
The schedule was as follows:
SESSION 1: Fri 6 Nov 2020
Keynote Dr Ingrid Pollard, Respondent Dr Tiffany Boyle (GSA)
A mixed-media artist and researcher, 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.
SESSION 2: WILD SPACES, Fri 13 Nov 2020
Dr Elizabeth A. Hodson, (Lecturer in Fine Art Critical Studies, GSA), The Posthuman Sublime: The Art Practice of Katie Paterson
Dr Nalini Paul, (Lecturer in Fine Art Critical Studies and Design History and Theory, GSA), Embodying Language in Wild Spaces: Place, Memory and Transformation
Sam Nightingale (PhD Candidate, Goldsmiths), Salt: a crystal image of time
Respondent Justin Carter (GSA)
The panel expanded upon the theme of ‘Wild spaces’, to encompass contemporary art practice, peripheral territories, ideas of remoteness along with notions of the sublime, embodiment and materiality.
SESSION 3: HISTORIES, Fri 20 Nov 2020
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 Candidate, Oslo Centre for Critical Architecture Studies), Writing Rack Fen: 1583-1606 and 2019-20
Dr Frances Robertson (Lecturer, GSA) Alien Introductions: trees, memory and landscape history
Respondent Michail Mersinis (GSA)
The panel expanded upon the ways art practice and historical research investigate this theme to address land as witness, oral histories, cultural perspectives shaped by politics and memory, through issues of heritage, ecology and conservation.
SESSION 4: Fri 27 Nov 2020
Keynote: Dr Louise Purbrick (School of Humanities, University of Brighton), Respondent Dr Marianne Greated (GSA)
Purbrick’s keynote reflected upon empty, or almost empty, distant landscapes, examining the ruptured nitrate fields of the Atacama Desert. From the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, the Antofagasta and Tarapacá regions of north Chile were extensively and intensively mined for nitrate. The industry, which supplied the agricultural economy of Northern Europe with fertiliser and its chemical industry with explosives, was driven by British capital. Residues of a history of the past exploitation of life remain in the desert landscape and appear in the present in other landscapes and in other forms: archives and images. Purbrick also considered the once derelict site of the H Blocks. 12 miles south-west of Belfast, it was the largest male prison for those serving life sentences for ‘conflict-related’ offences and frontline in the Northern Ireland conflict. Through the political stalemate of the peace process of the last 20 years, this site of conflict became a source of disagreement, a space of denial and silence. Most recently, it has been transformed, ecological and economic forces taking their effect, yet the site of the H Blocks still raises the question of how the material forms of history remain in landscapes of loss.
Louise Purbrick is an academic, activist and artist based at the University of Brighton. Principal Lecturer in the History of Art and Design at the University of Brighton, her work is devoted to understanding the sites of extraction and incarceration; she investigates the material culture of conflict and everyday life.
SESSION 5: PEOPLE AND PLACE, Fri 4 Dec 2020
Dr Nicky Bird (GSA), Raging: Revisiting Raging Dyke Network
Jordan Whitewood-Neal (MRes student, University of Brighton), Epistemological Hinterlands: Non-Normative Embodiment and Sublime Perceptions of Landscape
Dr Jo Vergunst (Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen), Exploring landscape decision-making with the arts: agency, scale and temporality
Respondent Dr Frances Robertson (GSA)
in this session on the theme of ‘People and Place’, the panel teases out questions of community, alternative voices, gender politics and experiences of landscape including embodiment and auto-ethnographic practices.
SESSION 6: CONTENTIOUS LANDSCAPES, Fri 11 Dec 2020
Minty Donald (Professor of Contemporary Performance Practice, University of Glasgow), Erratic Drift: approaching human geological performance
Jane Brettle (Visual Artist, in collaboration with Robin Mason: Musician) Mine – walking
Jasper Coppes (Artist / Tutor Royal Academy of Art, The Hague), Mud
Respondent Susan Brind (GSA)
Led by three distinct contemporary art practices, the final panel draws out the tensions and legacies of between the human and non-human environment, including sustainability, interventions, conservation and ecology.
Mixed-media artist and researcher, 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 has been in residence at Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL), as part of Glasgow International, now 2021. 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.
Respondent: Dr Tiffany Boyle (GSA) is a researcher, curator and writer, based in the Department of Design History & Theory at GSA and working as part of the curatorial duo Mother Tongue. Forthcoming projects include ‘7×7’ – a solo presentation from artist susan pui san lok for Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2021. Between Spring 2019-2020, she was a Postdoctoral and Senior Scholar Research Fellow with the Hauser & Wirth Institute NY.
Dr Louise Purbrick
Louise Purbrick is an academic, activist and artist based at the University of Brighton. Principal Lecturer in the History of Art and Design at the University of Brighton, her work is devoted to understanding the sites of extraction and incarceration; she investigates the material culture of conflict and everyday life. . With Xavier Ribas and Ignacio Acosta, she is part Traces of Nitrate, which examines legacies of mining colonialism and political ecologies of extraction.
Respondent: Dr Marianne Greated is Acting Head of Drawing and Painting at The Glasgow School of Art. Through her painting practice Greated explores how sustainability manifests within the landscape. Her work addresses landscape painting, constructing uncertain narratives around human intervention into the landscape. The paintings focus on renewable power structures, displacing the notion of the site and redressing histories of landscape painting. Greated’s research includes field trips, such as a site visit to Southern India from which these paintings stem, and ongoing explorations of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The visual representations of the environment are informed by the complexities of sustainability, public and political influence and how the landscape is forged by industry and power.
Dr Elizabeth A. Hodson
Dr Elizabeth A. Hodson is an anthropologist (PhD Uni. of Aberdeen) working in the interstices between contemporary art, anthropology and art history. She has conducted ethnographic research on art in Iceland and Scotland, exploring a range of topics including drawing, interdisciplinarity, alterity, the imagination and materiality. From 2013-2016 she was a Research Fellow on a five year ERC-funded project at the University of Aberdeen called ‘Knowing from the Inside: Anthropology, Art, Architecture and Design‘ (KFI, 2013-2018), led by Professor Tim Ingold. Recent publications include: the edited volume ‘Imaginations – Interiors – Surfaces: An Exhibition of Artefacts’ (2017); ‘Drawing’s Alterity’ in Collective and Collaborative Drawing in Contemporary Practice, ed. J. Journeaux and H. Gørrill (2017); ‘Cracked Glaze’, in An Unfinished Compendium of Materials, ed. R. Harkness (2017). Elizabeth has also published with the Journal of Material Culture, Journal of Visual Art Practice and ART/E/FACT, amongst others, and written on the art practice of Margrét H. Blöndal, Haraldur Jónsson, and Steingrímur Eyfjörð. Alongside her written work she has also curated a number of interdisciplinarity exhibitions both here in the UK and abroad including: ‘Jaðarsýn’ (2010), at Kling og Bang Art Gallerí, Iceland; ‘Beyond Perception’ (2015), University of Aberdeen; ‘Drawing the Anthropological Imagination’ (2016), University of Durham.
Nalini Paul’s poetry is inspired by natural landscapes, walks and memory. Born in India, she grew up in Vancouver, Canada, and has been living in Scotland for most of her adult life. She is widely published and has collaborated across various art forms. She was George Mackay Brown Writing Fellow in Orkney from 2009 until 2010, where she worked with dancers, musicians, visual artists, archaeologists and the RSPB. Her first poetry collection, Skirlags, was shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Award in 2010. Her collection, The Raven’s Song (2015) is inspired by raven and crow myths from Orkney, Shetland and Canada. Nalini’s poetic work for stage with Stellar Quines Theatre Company, Beyond the Mud Walls, is set partly in 1940s India and was showcased for ‘Rehearsal Rooms’ at the Traverse, Edinburgh, in September 2016. She was a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellow in 2017, spending a month at Grez-sur-Loing, France writing poetry partly inspired by The Bhagavad Gita. Nalini undertook a residency in Lewis and Kolkata as part of the ‘New Passages’ project (2017-18), exploring connections between India and Scotland. Since December 2019 Nalini has been working with Enough! Scotland on an artistic response to climate change, which includes writing exploring language, memory and belonging. She works as a lecturer in Fine Art Critical Studies and Design History and Theory at The Glasgow School of Art.
Sam Nightingale is an artist and researcher working in environmental media. He uses experimental forms of photography and speculative fieldwork to explore ‘spectral ecologies’ and the geopolitical interface between history, ecology and the image. His work explores how ‘spectral ecologies’ trace human and nonhuman histories and events enmeshed within organic and inorganic life, of salt, soil, and plants, as well as in the built environment. The work draws as much on technical media as it does on a biophysical environment’s capacity to act as ‘elemental media’ or ‘natural media’.
Nightingale is involved in various interdisciplinary projects, including running field-labs, and working with rural communities, scientists, geographers and social scientists in Europe and Australia. Residencies include Røst AiR, Norway; Ecology of Senses (Bioart Society, Finland); Practicing Deeptime (TimeSpan, Scotland); Dark Ecology, (Sonic Acts, Russia/ Arctic Circle). Recent publications: ‘Para-photo-mancy: notes on biochemical images,’ Antennae (2019); ‘Cinétracts – cinematic cartography in the Australian Mallee’, Living MapsReview, (2019) ‘Photochemical Alchemy,’ CAA Art Journal Open (2019). He is also co-editor of A Guide to Experimental Fieldwork for Future Ecologies (Onomatopee, under contract). His artwork is held in public and private collections. Nightingale is undertaking a practice-based PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Respondent: Justin Carter is Reader in Contemporary Practice: Art and Environment and Lecturer in Sculpture & Environmental Art at Glasgow School of Art. “My research is an attempt to understand the natural environment we are part of. How do we sense it and make sense of it?How can a connection be made with a particular place and shared with an audience or viewer? The artwork is an attempt to make this connection tangible”.
Justin has been artist in residence at Tate Liverpool (2001), Grizedale (2002) and Berwick Gymnasium (2004). In 2013 he was commissioned by Trust New Art to make a response to Leigh Woods in Bristol where he developed a project which sought to reconnect the urban museum with the rural wood through the practice of walking. More recently, in 2018 he worked on a residency at Fermynwoods Contemporary Arts in partnership with the Forestry Commission where he made a series prints alluding to habitat loss and species extinction. These prints were produced using ink made by combining rust from giant excavation equipment with oak galls from local trees.
Seán Laoide-Kemp is a photographer based in Ireland, who completed his studies on the BA (Hons) Photography programme at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dún Laoghaire (IADT). He has also recently completed a practice-led Masters by Research course in IADT. Laoide-Kemp practices mainly in the genre of Aftermath Photography (the photographing of dark events after they have taken place). This particular genre combines two of his great passions in life: history and photography. An example of this union can be seen in his ongoing project, Landscape as Witness, which aims to visually represent the constructions that were built as part of the Public WorksScheme in North Clare during the Great Irish Famine (1845-52). The project consists of images takenof these constructions and their surrounding landscape, accompanied by oral history and ethnographic accounts. By using these methods, Laoide-Kemp hopes to shed light on histories that are at risk of being forgotten.
Joe Crowdy is a PhD candidate at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, researching the built environment of the Fens as it became the object of intense speculative development in the early seventeenth century. His research – provisionally titled The Anti-Projector Anew: The Administrative, Vegetal, and Rebellious Architectures of the Seventeenth Century Fens – responds to the words and practices of those who opposed the newly imposed architecture of drainage and enclosure, who rejected depictions of their environment as a barren wasteland in need of ‘improvement’, by asserting its existing economic and ecological vitality.
Crowdy holds an MA in Architectural History from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, and a BA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art and Design, UAL. Prior to his PhD studies, he worked in London as an artist – producing installations, performances and texts for exhibitions and commissions in the UK and Europe – and a gardener, and these practices continue to inform his academic research.
Dr Frances Robertson
Dr Frances Robertson teaches at Glasgow School of Art. She researches practices of drawing and print with reference to the history of technology, visual communication, and the constructed environment. Recent publications include: Print Culture: Technologies of the Printed Page from Steam Press to eBook (2013); ‘Power in the Landscape’ in Kjetil Fallan, ed. The Culture of Nature in the History of Design (2019). Her landscape observations are carried out in words and through drawing—in parallel investigations of the interactions between landscape representation, notions of national and regional identity and the cultural politics of design and landscape shaping in Scotland. In her drawing practice she aims to develop an immersive contemplative practice of being in the environment through such long-duration drawings as that in the Practicing landscape exhibition currently in the exhibition at the Lighthouse. Previous projects include exhibitions and workshops with the art collective ‘Composition’ project and artist book publication 2004-2007, funded by Glasgow City Council Cultural Fund and the National Lottery Awards for All Scheme working with the poets Nalini Paul and Gerry Stewart with exhibitions at Tramway, Glasgow; Glasgow Women’s Library; the Mitchell Library; and book launch at the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh.
PEOPLE AND PLACE
Nicky Bird is an artist work considers contemporary relevances of ‘vernacular’ photographs and latent histories of specific sites, investigating how they remain resonant. She is interested in a key question: What is our relationship to the past, and what is the value we ascribe to it? Her work incorporates new photography with oral histories and collaborations with people who have significant connections to the original site and its photographic archive. Alongside commissioned projects she has exhibited nationally and internationally, with whose published essays on themes of erased place and digital exchange of photographs. Nicky is also a Reader in Contemporary Photographic Practice at The Glasgow School of Art.
Jordan Whitewood-Neal is a MRes student and independent researcher currently exploring relationships between disability and landscape infrastructures through autoethnography. Having previously completed his undergraduate degree at the Canterbury School of Architecture, Jordan then went on to work for Stirling Prize winning practice de Rijke Marsh Morgan, before then starting his Part 2 at the University of Brighton. Over the past 2 years he has developed research interests in the themes of body, pedagogy, semiotics and epistemology and completed his first Masters thesis on Spatially Augmented Machine Intelligence.
His current work is design-research based and is currently conducting a series of derives in the Ashdown Forest. These derives are documented via a bespoke filming device which uses the unique distortions created via the wheelchair to project speculative augmentations of the landscape at varying scales. Alongside this work he is also writing an extended research study on body and tools in reference to objectivity, and is studying the work of theorists such as Ranulph Glanville, Paul Feyerabend and Donna Haraway. The hope being to establish a new understanding of how his personal disability affects more general epistemological understanding of place and self.
Jo Vergunst’s anthropological research is about people’s relationships with their environments. Most of his fieldwork has been in Scotland and he focuses particularly on the intersection between everyday experience and wider political circumstances. Vergunst’s early work was on farming and rural development, and over recent years he has worked on a wide range of themes – from walking in rural and urban areas, to landscape history and heritage, and wood as a craft material and landscape. He is especially interested in anthropology that works with artists and through creative practice.
Dr Frances Robertson (GSA), see HISTORIES
Minty Donald is an artist, researcher and Professor of Contemporary Performance Practice at the University of Glasgow. Her practice-research, which she regularly undertakes with artist, Nick Millar, explores interrelationships between humans and the other-than-human environments that they shape, build and inhabit; environments that also, reciprocally, mould and permeate them. Her practice takes multiple forms, determined by the context in which she is working, but often entails performance, sculpture, participatory events and writing. In her practice, she treats other-than-human matter as a collaborator, acknowledging its liveliness and agency, while also recognising the limits and inequities of human/other-than-human collaboration. Recent practice-research focused on interrelationships between humans and watercourses. Current interests see a shift towards human-geological interrelations. Projects include: THEN/NOW a public art project with/for the Forth and Clyde Canal in Glasgow (with Nick Millar and Neil McGuire), 2014—20 http://www.then-now.org ; Guddling About, an iterative performance practice with water (with Nick Millar), 2013— http://www.guddlingabout.com; Erratic Drift a participatory performance and installation (with Nick Millar), Architecture Fringe, 2019.
Jane Brettle studied Fine Art at the West of England College of Art, Fine Art and Photography at the University of Sunderland and MA Photographic Studies at the University of Derby. She lives and works mainly in Edinburgh and in South West Cornwall. Her work is a response to the way in which our man-made environment defines us through the construction of institutional and domestic spaces – more recently through landscapes that appear to be ‘natural environments’ but are culturally ‘managed’ for our education and pleasure.
Awards and Bursaries include the Arts and Humanities Research Award, SAC Artist Award(s) and a Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Trust Bursary. Commissions, include the National Galleries of Scotland, the Royal College of Surgeons London, Glasgow Year of Architecture and Design, and Photo 98. She has exhibited and published nationally and internationally and has work in various public and private collections including the Deutsche Bank Art Collection, City Art Centre Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland, and Royal College of Surgeons, London. She is currently developing a work in collaboration with musician Robin Mason, supported by St Andrews University, The Hope Scott Trust and Help Musicians UK.
She was Associate Lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art and Associate Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University involved in developing the Contemporary Photographic Practice Course, teaching theory and practice at undergraduate and postgraduate level. She has worked as External Examiner, PhD Supervisor and Course Adviser and occasionally writes on Photography.
In 1984 she established the Education Project at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh and in 1987 co-established Portfolio Gallery, Workshop and Magazine in Edinburgh.
She has been a board member of several arts organisations and awards and consultancy panels and invited to chair, speak and lecture at numerous academic and art/photography events.
Jasper Coppes (NL, 1983) questions the dominant stories we tell about the natural environment in his work. Long-term dialogues with specific sites, people and other entities form the basis of his practice. Coppes’ works take shape across a variety of different media, such as, film, writing, sculpture, architecture and sound. Recent exhibitions include: ‘Calling for times to Come’ ITGWO, Vlieland (2019), ‘Cabinet Interventions’ Glasgow International Festival, Glasgow (2018), ‘Flow Country’ Glasgow Short Film Festival, (2017), ‘Roineabhal’, Galerie van Gelder, Amsterdam (2015). Coppes is a tutor at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, MA artistic Research – and at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam.
Susan Brind (GSA)
Susan Brind is a Reader in Contemporary Art: Practice & Events based in the Dept of Sculpture & Environmental Art at The Glasgow School of Art. She co-leads, with Nicky Bird, GSA’s Reading Landscape research group and is also a member of the Creative Centre for Fluid Territories (CCFT), an international interdisciplinary research group undertaking practice-led research focused on constructions of place identity. Within her collaborative practice with Jim Harold, she is interested in how our first-hand experience of different places allows us to reflect on culture, on geo-politics and, most importantly, upon ourselves as beings.