Dunnottar Castle to Host Art Exhibition on 23rd/24th March

Behind the Scenes: Why We Had Two Archaeologists On-Site
7th December 2018
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Six students from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen will be displaying their work in Dunnottar Castle in a first for the historic site.

On Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th of March, the students will showcase their work inside the Castle during the visiting hours.  The work will be displayed around both internal and external areas of the Castle, giving visitors the chance to see their work in the unique setting and presenting certain challenges to the artists.

Jade Smith, one of the students preparing to display her work, said: “We jumped at the chance to exhibit here because it is a spectacular location and a world-famous heritage site unique to Scotland.  The Castle’s history, environment, and wild location are features we are all very excited about.  We also knew that it would bring challenges too, which is a good thing because it can push our work in new and interesting directions.”

The students are all in their third year, working towards a BA (Honours) Degree in Painting.  The work will focus on environmental issues and themes.  As Dunnottar is a scheduled monument, there are many practical challenges facing the students.  Jade added: “For those of us who mainly work in painting, the fact that we cannot hang canvases or boards on the walls means that we must find other ways of presenting our work.”

They will also have to carry their work up and down the 267 steps to the Castle.  Jade added: “Hopefully, these challenges will push our work in exciting new directions.”

The students’ work all focus on different aspects of nature and the environment. Below is a summary of the kind of work that will be showcased.

Rita Kermack: “I am intrigued by the traces of time which are left behind in our environment.  These could be mark left by natural forces like the sea or evidence of human habitation.  I wish to create an installation made from cloth which gives clues about the traces that may have been left by the inhabitants of the castle.”

Hannah Patterson: “My work focuses on the conditions and behaviours of the body, mind and soul often expressed through symbolism.  For this exhibition my work is about creating an immersive space through sound and light in a dark space to heighten our senses. … Creating a connection between our body and the environment.”

Catherine Eckersall: “The Castle, which was once a fortress for those who lived there, is now a sanctuary for all kinds of life, from the seagulls which nest there to plants growing amongst the ruins.  The connection between people and their surrounding natural environment is a theme I am currently exploring in my artistic practice, and this is something I would like to continue with my piece for Dunnottar.  [My paintings] will be displayed in a manner which will allow visitors to view and interact with them in an unconventional manner.”

Jade Smith: “I am currently researching Ethnobotany, which is the traditional use of plants, for my studio project.  I was delighted therefore to find out more about Dunnottar’s historical gardens and get a glimpse into what was grown there for medicinal and other practical purposes.  I am interested in the healing nature of plants and try to engage the viewer to reconsider and reconnect with nature through telling stories, in a visual way, about people and plants derived from local history and folklore.”

Indya Davidson: “My current project is about exploring ocean waste.  I am interested in investigating ways in which to capture views on waste as well as how it affects local wildlife, ourselves and future selves.” Adam Rada: “My work is based on traditional landscape painting but using the principle of making landscapes, similar to 3D programmes and video games.  It is about creating a new visual landscape, not being restricted to the existing scenery.”

Jo-Anna Bean