Posts Tagged ‘art’

An Open Letter in the Dark | The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination

November 28, 2014

“We are sorry it has taken so long to get back to you, but this letter has not been an easy one to write and things have been difficult here. We are also sorry that what began as a letter has perhaps become a long “manifesto against a world that we hate” (to quote one of the lines in your festival’s statement of purpose).” continue reading …

Eden3: Trees are the Language of Landscape

April 5, 2013

Eden3: Trees are the language of landscape exhibition image

Exhibition – April 22 to May 25, 2013
Tent Gallery, in Art Space and Nature
Edinburgh College of Art
Evolution House (corner of Westport and Lady Lawson Street)
Edinburgh, EH1 2LE, Scotland
Phone: 0131 651 5800
Hours: Tues-Fri 12noon to 4:45PM or by appointment on Saturday.

The Collins & Goto Studio presents an on-going series of works with trees, including Eden3 an installation of trees and technology that provide an experience of photosynthesis through sound, and Caledonia: The Forest is Moving a series of expeditions and related inquiry about specific forests. The exhibition includes a brief overview of previous work from Pennsylvania and California to provide context for the current creative inquiry.

This work has evolved through collaboration with other artists, musicians, scientists and technicians. The exhibition is partially sponsored by Trilight Industries, Glasgow. Engineering support for the development of Eden3 is provided by Solutions for Research, Bedford. Special thanks to Helen de Main, Sogol Mabadi and Chris Fremantle.

Opening – Thursday April 25, 4 to 6 PM
Artist’s Talk – Thursday May 16, 4 to 6 PM

Collins and Goto will host an open discussion with friends and colleagues about their work and the role of art in relationship to a changing environment.
Space is limited please RSVP if interested in attending the artist talk

Eden3 Exhibition Flyer w Image

Eden3 Exhbition Press ReleaseSM

Louis Helbig at ECA, 4pm on 2nd April

March 25, 2013


ecoartscotland is pleased to announce that we will be co-hosting a talk by Louis Helbig, Canadian environmental photographer, at in the Main Boardroom (Level 5) Evolution House (corner of West Port and Lady Lawson Street), Edinburgh College of Art at 4pm on Tuesday 2nd April.  For more information, email

Louis Helbig is a Canadian aerial art photographer and social commentator.  His best-known project, Beautiful Destruction – Alberta Tar Sands Aerial Photographs, uses the evocative power of art to create space for viewers to reflect, imagine and think for themselves.  He depicts one of the largest industrial projects of our time.

Also ongoing is Sunken Villages about what disappeared and has re-emerged; ten communities flooded by the St Lawrence Seaway in 1958.  That industrial project was the pride of the Commonwealth in its time.

Raised in rural British Columbia, Canada, Louis Helbig’s work is informed by the eclectic.  His background includes membership of Canada’s national cross-country ski team, several academic degrees, flying bush planes, and employment with various public agencies and government departments, NGOs and education institutions.  He left Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs in 2006 to pursue art.

Dalziel + Scullion | Edinburgh Lectures

March 15, 2013

Dalziel and Scullion have been invited to give a lecture entitled Ecology of Place as part of the Edinburgh Lectures series. It takes place Monday 27th May 2013 at Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.

Other speakers in the series include the zoologist Aubrey Manning, specialist on the lynx Dr David Hetherington, Geddes expert Dr Walter Stephen, author on the arctic Ken McGoogan, marine biologist Prof Murray Roberts, natural history television producer Nigel Pope, local food advocate Lady Claire Macdonald and geologist Prof Iain Stewart.

From Fukushima – Pt 5

March 11, 2013
Link, 2013, Su Grierson, with permission

Link, 2013, Su Grierson, with permission

I am sorry for the delay in sending this Blog. We have had an exhibition of the work we have made during the residency, and with lots of entertaining besides, time has just evaporated. Yesterday I gave a talk as part of a series at the exhibition.

Exhibition space in rice Kura with Link exhibition installed, photo and permission Su Grierson

Exhibition space in rice Kura with Link exhibition installed, photo and permission Su Grierson

I was asked to talk about Scotland and decided to tell the story of the evacuation of the Scottish Islands of St Kilda in 1928. This involved a lot of internet research to get good information, images and video. My feeling is that there are many similarities with the forced evacuations here in Fukushima as a result of the tsunami disaster 3/11. During the research my feelings were re-enforced many times. While the St Kildans chose to evacuate, the reasons were largely outside their control. The encroaching modern world and their awareness of their own precarious and simplistic life eroded their centuries-old community structure. The slow migration of younger people to Canada and America had started the decline.

The subsequent handling of the financial and personal aspects of their re-homing was as complex, inefficient and time consuming, just as the process we are seeing here in Fukushima has been. And one can imagine that the success of the move for the St Kildans was as dependent on personal attitudes towards making a fresh start, as it is here with the Tohukans.

The question my talk posed was basically … is it possible to go back and re create a shattered community? Will it be forever changed? Is a fresh start needed wherever refugees settle? Where is home? Does it lie in the past, or the future, or is it now?

Bewery Gallery Kura, image and permission Su Grierson

Bewery Gallery Kura, image and permission Su Grierson

Our exhibition has been short but successful in that we have attracted many local people to come and join us. Some of us have always been on hand to welcome and chat to visitors, even if it was only to smile and use sign language. Part of the brief of this project was to help re-establish a cultural life in this area internationally blighted by the nuclear disaster which happened in an area hundreds of miles away but carrying the same Prefecture name.

The two Norwegian artists and I seem to be the only westerners in town and as we were on TV together with our lead Japanese artist Yoshiko Maruyama early on we seem to be known wherever we go. The fact that we are holding the exhibition in the most historically important Kura has also attracted people who rarely get a chance to see inside this privately owned building. It is preserved but un-restored with no glass in doors or windows and only limited electricity, so a chilly place in sub zero temperatures. It is the largest Kura in town, being three separate Kura buildings linked together. A Kura is a traditional rice storage barn and, with the town being in the centre of a very large and fertile rice growing area, there are huge numbers. The Mayor told us there are estimated to be 20,000 Kuras in and near the city. There was a saying that every man born in Kitakata should build his own Kura, and with a current population of 40,000 the numbers still stack up.

Exhibition Kura, photo and permission Su Grierson

Exhibition Kura, photo and permission Su Grierson

The massively thick doors and windows were a feature designed to protect against fire. Clearly with so much flammable material inside if one Kura went up in flames those adjacent would soon stoke the furnace and the whole city could be ablaze. But with solid doors and windows quickly closed the fire could be contained.

Rural Kura, photo and permission Su Grierson

Rural Kura, photo and permission Su Grierson

The walls are made of rice straw and mud with heavy wooden beam structures. The roofs are today usually covered with shiny ceramic wave shaped tiles which allow the water and snow to run off, in particular snow doesn’t build up. Before that they were thatched with thick rice straw. The style is consistent and they have raised roofs with air space to allow good ventilation. I learned from artist Aeneas Wilder that even today in rural areas rats and the snakes they attract – the snakes eat the baby rats – are still a problem. Today the Kuras continue variously as conversions into housing, shops, offices, fire stations, and cafes. Some of course are in terminal decline and others just surviving. Bringing our art into this culture has been a unique experience.

Kura in decline, photo and permission Su Grierson

Kura in decline, photo and permission Su Grierson

For my part having to decide early on in the residency what form my work would take, and with a requirement to connect with local issues, I decided to take an in-depth look at the snow that deeply covers this area. While snow of this depth was a great surprise to me I soon discovered that all of the local people and the refugees housed here really hated snow. They actually used that word ‘hate’ which is very strong in the Japanese culture who rarely show their feeling, especially negative ones, so easily. Could I make images that might show this element in a different light? Avoiding the obvious ‘ touristic’ beautiful shrines in snow – although I couldn’t resist putting a few of those on Facebook – I looked firstly at the power of snow to remove landscape. All the human details of habitation, agriculture and communication and the cultivated land itself are simply removed from the landscape.

Tree mound, 2013, Su Grierson with permission

Tree mound, 2013, Su Grierson with permission

What still shows are the clues or residues of our occupation and this concept fuelled my initial images made in the foothills of the mountains near the village in which we were staying. Then spending more time in town I was interested in the effects of snow on the light and the way that in turn affected window reflections. The Japanese have a habit of blocking out light – or maybe just prying eyes – with thin patterned curtains, adhesive patterned plastic sheets, cut glass, or with paint which often carries the scratches of wear and tear causing an interesting effect. The reflection of the snow and snow covered building in these semi-clear windows created many unusual layered views of these locations.

Scratched Window, 2013, Su Grierson with permission

Scratched Window, 2013, Su Grierson with permission

I also began looking at the concepts of Japanese Sumi-e painting. The ancient concepts of essence of place in which information was omitted and selected detail used to stand in for the whole, and of the broken paint technique which simply suggested form and movement through abstract marks seemed to have much resonance with the work I was making. And it began to direct my interest. I named my exhibition ‘link’ after one image in which by using computer rotation I created a long line of trees each linked by a single branch. This very much reflected the many conversation I have had with local people who talk much about the connection with nature and between the forces of nature. Many people live by these concepts in their daily life.

Agricultural calligraphy, 2013, Su Grierson with permission

Agricultural calligraphy, 2013, Su Grierson with permission

Yoshiko, who knows my previous work, commented that I seemed to have moved away from my normally more conceptual approach into something more personal and free. She is probably right although I am still not entirely comfortable with that. It is the nature of residencies in another culture, they can break into your established patterns of thought and action if you are willing, like the Refugees, to let it happen.

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