TUESDAY 29 MARCH - SATURDAY 2 APRIL 2022
CIRCUS ARTSPACE @
INVERNESS CREATIVE ACADEMY
Gym Hall, Stephen's Street, Inverness IV2 3JP
FREE ENTRY | OPEN DAILY
Tue & Sat 10am-8pm, Wed / Thurs / Fri 10am - 5pm
TUESDAY 29 MARCH, 6 - 8PM
Meet some of the artists and join us for a celebratory drink! Please tag us in your social media posts using #terrafabulations
TERRAFABULATIONS brings together the work of four artists to take a fresh look at notions of place and belonging in the Highlands. The exhibition investigates boundaries and relationships with land, sea and ecology, unearthing tensions and vital connections. At a time of disconnect and uncertainty, how can we reimagine our entangled place within a myriad living world?
This exhibition is part of the Circus Graduate Associates programme and features Becs Boyd, Isabel McLeish, Rosie Newman and Fiona Percy.
Some of the highlights of TERRAFABULATIONS include a celebration of the 800-year-old Wych Elm tree that stands at Beauly Priory, sculpture and painting inspired by indigenous art that explores Scotland’s complex relationship with deer, textiles revealing the forgotten women of the great Culbin sandstorm of 1694 and work exploring transitional states, shaped by the tidal forces of the Cromarty Firth and changing human relationships with the sea.
land or territory
(in science fiction) planet earth
To engage in the composition of fables or stories, especially those featuring a strong element of fantasy
Becs Boyd, an artist and ecologist on the Black Isle, graduated from Moray School of Art in 2021. She won the New Highland Contemporary 4 award and has exhibited widely, including a solo show on Art North’s Projectroom 2020 and recent work selected for the Society of Scottish Artists and Visual Arts Scotland. She received a Visual Artist and Craft Makers Award 2021-22.
Becs Boyd uses painting and sculpture to create installations that challenge narratives of control and anthropocentrism in an unpredictable, more-than-human world. Often motivated by a specific experience or event, she uses natural and man-made materials to interrogate our tangled relationships with the environment, from the lived experience of time and daily rituals to climate change. Her work as an ecologist fuels her interest in the way physical experience places us within a universe of other life-forms and time-frames. The resulting work explores vulnerability and resilience, separation and connection, and the creative energy of what is unknown and unresolved.
Do My Fences Keep Me Safe?
My practice comes from many years working in the natural environments of the Highlands. The installation Do My Fences Keep Me Safe?, inspired by a coast-to-coast walk, wrestles with Scotland’s cultural myths. Across large areas the stag, Scotland’s icon of wildness, roams a landscape grazed bare of vegetation while miles of fencing are needed to protect trees. As the work developed, the ‘Stagman’, the grazing deer and the seedling became figures in a broader exploration of the tension between the urge to control, and care for the natural environment. Drawing on the indigenous art of Finnmark and Kilmartin, Argyll tracing 5000 years of coexistence with deer, the work reflects on boundaries, fear, identity and power against today’s backdrop of social division, conflict and global crisis. What role do boundaries play in safeguarding what we value? How do we negotiate our own fears? Do My Fences Keep Me Safe?
Isabel McLeish is a visual and socially engaged artist based in the Scottish Highlands. She has a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Art Practice from Gray's School of Art and recently completed her MA in Art and Social Practice with UHI. Her practice considers our innate connection to nature and themes of place, rurality, ecology and care. She is also a certified Forest Therapy Practitioner, offering guided nature experiences and workshops involving mindfulness, meditation and expressive arts activities.
Isabel's current work explores the ancient Wych Elm tree at Beauly Priory. The tree is nearly 800 years old and believed to be the oldest Wych Elm in Europe but is sadly dying of Dutch elm disease with only 5% of it still living. Isabel hopes to encourage dialogue about the implications of climate change, disease spread and ecological loss in the Highlands as well as celebrate our relationship with an ancient Scottish tree.
Rosie Newman, a graduate of Camberwell School of Art (BA Hons) and Shetland College UHI (MA), is a visual artist and educator who lives near the Cromarty Firth. She exhibited at Relate North Symposium Exhibition, Russia (2019) and was Research Associate in The Liminal Zone Project UHI (2021). Recent work exhibited in the Liminal Zone group exhibition, which is currently touring Scotland, explores the seashore as a metaphor for the boundary between teaching and creative practice, funded by the Carnegie Trust. Rosie is a John Muir Award Leader and recently received a Visual Artist and Craft Makers Award in 2022.
With a background in sculpture, Rosie includes a wide variety of materials in her practice, including painting, film, reused objects, technology, people, and events. With an interest in the role that art can play in tackling climate and biodiversity issues, she aspires to create intrigue, awareness, and respect for the natural environment.
The work on display in TERRAFABULATIONS brings together her recent work in her ongoing Song Tides project. Over the pandemic, Rosie has been swimming regularly in the Cromarty Firth and this inspired her interest in the littoral zone and the tidal cycle.
Her first sculpture involved working with the harbour master to suspend three small steel sheets in the water column to capture the play of the air, moon, sun, and sea on the surfaces of the metal over the first lockdown. This work is on display at this exhibition.
The second in the series involved five curved, steel pillars that were submerged overwinter 2021/22. These were created into a sculpture and audio artwork called Bell which is currently being exhibited across Scotland as part of the Carnegie funded Liminal Zone group exhibition.
The third in this series of sculptures is Spiral made of a 3.7-metre long steel bar which is the tidal range of the Cromarty Firth. The sculpture responds to the giant industrial geometric shapes on the horizon of the Firth, with a contrasting Fibonacci inspired curve, a shape often seen in nature. The structure has been placed on the seashore, emerging and submerging, exposed and hidden. The wind and waves play a part in transforming the metal from shiny silver to rust. In the exhibition, Spiral hangs from the rafters and the audience is invited to play a part in the continual transformation and alchemical changes of the surface of the metal through ‘painting’ the sculpture with seawater. They are asked to do this whilst imagining how they would like the marine environment to be in the future.
The Diptych painting Beyond the Sea drew inspiration from the shapes of land on either side of the Cromarty Firth's horizon, drawn together here to create an archway. The paintings contain torn antique maps of the Moray Firth, fused back together with a healing balm of beeswax. The arch is coloured with the mesmerizing and dry texture of ultramarine which translates to beyond the sea a replica of lapis lazuli or heaven stone which was sourced from faraway lands and considered sacred, a pigment renowned by painters for its spiritual properties.
The artist would like to thank Newhall Smiddy, Cromarty Harbour Trust, Bryn Leyshon, CroMighty Mermaids & the Liminal Zone project.
Fiona Percy is a visual, mixed media, textile storyteller. Her methodology cycles through continual creative loops; gather, create, destroy, and repeat. Material choices, including flora, fibre, and folk knowledge provide imbued provenance. Copper is of alchemic significant representing conduction, transformation, and protection. Fiona plays with ideas relating to nature’s reciprocity, its recurring iterations echoing her own bodily interactions. Exploring connections between self and place, individual and collective, through working with textiles the thread becomes both bridge and barrier. Her artefacts are tactile repositories of the traced and forsaken. A challenge to the empirical via lived experience.
Disappeared Village, Tenant Pincushion series (2021-2022)
In 2021 I was selected for the Northword Storytagging Project development grant with Robert Gordon University and the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme. These pincushions are the result of that research and development, the story I responded to can be read here.
I currently live on the edge of Culbin forest in my partners family home that she grew up in. We moved here after experiencing being flooded out of our previous home on the other side of the river. The climatic changes of 1694 the Culbin residents experienced resonates with our current global climate state of flux and is surely story worth listening to and taking heed of.
Exploring my process, some thoughts on the creation of the series.
At the time of the great drift pins were used for holding clothes together and on. Clothes were pinned in place with straight pins across all levels of society, gender, and age, even babies’ nappies were secured with them. They were everyday objects and pincushions would be commonplace in the home. Sand was used as a traditional filling in pincushions to sharpen and clean pins.
A list of Kinnaird’s holdings shows sixteen tenants over six crofts in the years previous. This list of names gives no indication of age, marital status or children what is recorded is the number of ploughs and rental dues. The women of Culbin are as disappeared as the ‘village’.
The women would have had skills in dyeing and, although brighter expensive imports were available, crofters would work with what could be found in the land.
I used four trees which crop up in the stories surrounding the Culbin. Apple from the laird’s orchard, briefly uncovered and fruiting hundreds of years later. Elder common to farmlands and presently marker of the great house. The Rowan traditional protection against witchcraft and the influence of Isabel Guthrie whose curse is said to be one cause of the disaster. The Silver Fir, native and growing amongst the forest today steadying the sands beneath.
All four trees are part of the Oghan alphabet the Celtic runes of divination used by Pict ancestors. Each tree belongs one of the four ‘aicne’ of Oghan. These are cardinal points of North, south, east, and west in a spread as are the suits within playing cards for fortune telling. This echoes stories of the laird playing cards with the devil and the prophecy of Guthrie.
I printed my fabric with blown leaf litter gathered beside the woods and foraged from local trees to dye all the threads and yarns producing subtle variations of colour. These can be seen on the backs whose stitch echo shifting sands patterns. Fancy work such as bargello was fashionable then and I took inspiration from examples held in the V&A.
Each front has a copper compass rose drawn from maps I became fascinated with in the national library of Scotland archives. They shift from hand drawn fishing spots to military and land utilisation before the most recent ordinance survey and google maps charting the shift from farm to sand to forest and the value of the land. The houses stitched in silk and metal thread are taken from the older maps as well as sketches of cruck houses.