Celebrating coastal cultures
Throughout our research partnership on micro-cluster networks, a clear pattern emerged amongst our members, steering group and place makers. We discovered how the experiences and stories of our coastlines featured prominently in the arts, heritage and culture created in Argyll and the Isles. Coastal cultures do not just exist as heritage but are entwined with contemporary life, influencing our engagement with and movement through the landscape. At CHARTS we see this as an intrinsic part of the region’s identity and believe in continually helping to develop opportunities to build on this unique cultural asset.
In Argyll and the Isles, there is a high standard of work being produced that either directly reacts or interacts with coasts, be this physically or thematically. With COP26 recently happening in Scotland we have seen, more now than ever, how work being produced in our region interacts with other work being made nationally and internationally, directly influencing the discourse on our current and future interactions with coastlines.
Below is a cross-section of CHARTS members whose works relate to coastlines, celebrating and amplifying coastal cultures uniqueness to the region. These range from collectives, such as, KNOCKvologan who have worked with creatives internationally to produce Magical Octopus, to individual artists such as Katie Harris-MacLeod who’s work relating to coastlines has expanded to Australia where she collaborated on Topography for Reflection, part of Floating land, exploring ‘Weyba’s natural and cultural timescape’.
Katie Harris-Macleod is an interdisciplinary Australian/Scottish artist. Katie graduated from Duncan of Jordonstone College of Art & Design (2017) and since then has been awarded a residency placement on the Muir is Tìr sailing residency funded by SAIL BRITAIN and AN LANNTAIR, as part of 'YEAR OF YOUNG PEOPLE 2018'. Katie has explored Gaelic culture and coastlines through works such as Cluas Mara/Sea Ear.
Images: Katie Harris-MacLeod and Bianca Tainsh, A Topography For Reflection, Floating Land Biennale, 2021. Photo by Jennifer Dean.
Mhairi is an interdisciplinary artist working with mark-making, sculpture and installation on Iona and has undertaken numerous residencies and research projects on neighbouring islands helping to develop her ‘preception of island environments’.
Mhairi’s current focus is ‘on the presence of the MoD in the Hebrides and throughout 2021/2022, [...] working on a project commissioned by COMAR in partnership with the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust and in collaboration with composer Fergus Hall researching the impact of anthropogenic sound, during the NATO exercise Joint Warrior, on the behaviour of cetaceans in the Sea of the Hebrides.’
Image: Mhairi Killin, Fata Morgana, Meggitt BTT-3 Banshee military target drone; worn and washed by tides (it holds in its form, function, and name the paradoxical nature of the military presence in the Hebrides).
Image: Mhairi Killin, Detritus Island, Screenprint, photographic image on acetate, ink and graphite.
Naoko is a freelance curator in contemporary art curator who lives in Oban. Naoko explored coastal cultures when she was invited to conduct this year CLIMAVORE: On Tidal Zones Residency on Skye setting the questions:
‘ ✳︎“How can we collaboratively activate the intertidal zones as a forum for critically thinking about and taking actions towards the climate crisis?”
✳︎“How can we approach, understand and share the complex ecology, stories, heritage and challenges around the intertidal zones in an inclusive way?” ’
Image: Naoko Mabon, The second open session with Jessica Giannotti, Renuka Ramanujam and Dr Leslie Mabon, At Oban shore by Corran Esplanade, part of On Tidal Zones research residency, hosted by ATLAS Arts and CLIMAVORE, 2021.
Image: Naoko Mabon, The fourth open session with the Oban Gaelic Choir, at George Street Square by Oban Bay, part of On Tidal Zones research residency, hosted by ATLAS Arts and CLIMAVORE, 2021.
KNOCKvologan is a residency space on the Isle of Mull using interdisciplinary methods to explore and study the landscape, run by Miek Zwamborn (artist, writer, bookmaker and translator) and Rutger Emmelkamp (artist, educator and program maker).
‘We believe that a landscape, looked at through different eyes, worked with and mapped out in omnifarious and sensory ways, will grant new insights and outlooks, generate stories and offer possibilities for a more sustainable relationship between humans and their habitat. With our approach, we aim to contribute to a smarter and more sustainable culture, enhancing biodiversity and thus the health and prosperity of ourselves and the environment.’
KNOCKvologan’s archive of work
Image: KNOCKvologan, Eamonn Harnett creel making during residency, 2021.
Image: KNOCKvologan, Magical Octopus Sequel, 2021.
Pippa is a musician and composer, her album ‘Driftwood Harp’ explores the folklore, myths and legends of Argyll and surrounding areas. Pippa’s score ‘Elements II: From the Ocean’ address the fragility of coastal climates and expresses her ‘strong emotions and concerns regarding issues facing the world we inhabit.’
Image: Pippa Reid-Foster, Playing the harp, 2021.
Organisations contributing to coastal cultures
Archipelago Folkschool works to connect people, communities and environments through collaborative and democratic working. They are a social enterprise that connects people with craft through kayak building, canoe building and residencies. Celebrating the use of coastal communities through coastal crafts and boat building courses.
Cove Park offers a 'unique programme of residencies respond to the diversity of contemporary practice in all the art forms, providing the time, space and freedom required to develop new work within a supportive and inspiring context.'
Creative Carbon Scotland 'Initiated by Creative Carbon Scotland and Festivals Edinburgh in 2013, the Green Arts Initiative supports Scottish arts and cultural organisations to reduce their impact on the climate and environment, and to be at the forefront of creating a sustainable future for our sector and beyond.'
Cultural Documents is Directed by Deirdre Mackenna acting as a ‘process that connects micro-local with global contexts in order to reify intangible aspects of society such as identity, language, place and environment. Operating from production locations in coastal west Scotland and rural central Italy, Cultural Documents generates opportunities for people to translate and share their ideas through the production of contemporary visual art’. Their most recent exhibition Towards The Water – Ecotone explores our relationship to coastlines by examining ‘the challenges of Argyll’s environmental stewardship during COP26’.
Sail Britain is running Between Land and Sea in 2022 'Led by artist Ellis O’Connor this residency will explore both the islands of Western Scotland and the ocean with which they are intimately connected as part of a sailing voyage. The programme will form a journey through the islands in sketching, painting and varied mixed medium techniques using the unique vantage point as the fuel for creating new work. We will creatively explore various themes from the varied geology found here to the abundant wildlife whilst building up new ways of capturing landscape and ocean alike'.