Frontiers in Retreat 2013–2018

Frontiers in Retreat is a five-year collaboration project that fosters multidisciplinary dialogue on ecological questions within a European network involving artist residencies, art and education organisations, artists, experts in various disciplines as well as diverse audiences.The aim of the project is to broaden the understanding of global ecological changes and their local impacts on European natural environments by means of contemporary artistic practices and through a multidisciplinary approach.

Frontiers in Retreat is organised by HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme in partnership with the art organisations Mustarinda, Finland; Scottish Sculpture Workshop – SSW, Scotland; Interdisciplinary Art Group SERDE, Latvia; Cultural Front – GRAD, Serbia; Centre d’Art i Natura de Farrera, Spain; Skaftfell – Center for Visual Art, Iceland; and Jutempus, Lithuania.

25 artists have been invited from across Europe for research residencies in the residency centres run by the partners of the project. Their sites, recognised as frontiers, are approached as resonant of the entwined geopolitical and socio-economic processes. During the project, the artists will move within the residency network, research the particular ecological contexts of the sites, initiate knowledge exchange between diverse disciplines in incubator workshops, and develop new artworks.

Frontiers in Retreat residency activities started in the spring of 2014. The research processes and activities at each residency location are documented and communicated on the official website connecting the sites with each other as well as with different audiences.The website also contains further information about the artists and partner organisations.

Scottish Sculpture Workshop has facilitated research and production residencies for six artists.  These artists are Brett Bloom, Sylvia Grace Borda, Fernando Garcia-Dory, Carl Giffney, Mari Keski-Korsu and Simon Yuill. During the course of FiR, SSW has worked closely with each of these artist to support and develop their individual projects.

Brett Bloom (b. 1971) is an artist, activist, writer and publisher. His main work is collaboration with the group Temporary Services (Copenhagen/Chicago/Philadelphia). The group works together, writes about art, and publishes obsessively. They run Half Letter Press, a publishing imprint.  Brett’s FiR residency at SSW resulted in CAMP BREAKDOWN BREAK DOWN. This CAMP was coordinated by Brett as part of a multi-year effort called Breakdown Break Down, that mobilise others to articulate and build a civil culture to prepare for and survive climate chaos and breakdown.

Sylvia Grace Borda is Canadian-born artist who has worked in Northern Ireland and Scotland for almost a decade. She is interested in re-addressing public views about socio-cultural landscapes and how cultural symbols may be co-opted to form new media platforms.  During her residencies at SSW, Sylvia has been working closely with Lumsden Community Association and the wider community to develop a project entitled ‘Butter is better than oil’.
(for other projects see: http://thetyee.ca/ArtsAndCulture/2013/10/19/Google-Farm-View/  and  http://thelasource.com/en/2013/10/07/the-grass-is-not-greener-on-the-other-side-surrey-exhibition-highlights-the-importance-of-local-agriculture

Fernando Garcia-Dory (b.1978, living between Madrid and Mallorca and the mountains of Northern Spain) creates works engaging with issues concerning the relationship of culture and nature now, embodied within the contexts of landscape, the rural, desires and expectations related with identity aspects, crisis, utopia, and social change. Throughout his residencies at SSW, Fernando has been exploring a local area called the Cabrach to develop his project INLAND Scotland. (see: http://www.fernandogarciadory.com/index.php?/projects/inland/) Carl Giffney b.1983, Waterford, is a graduate of Irelands National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and the Irish Institute of Art, Design & Technology (IADT) holding first class honour BA and MA degrees respectively. He is co-founder and director of The Good Hatchery, an experimental artist led initiative in the bog lands of Offaly, Ireland. Giffneys solo work as a visual artist investigates social capital through empirical and performative research, carrying out activities like mining, beekeeping and modifying cars. During his FiR residencies, Carl produced a film entitled
I really don’t feel them. Part of this work was filmed during an event at SSW, WATCH THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM RESULTS WITH ARTIST CARL GIFFNEY.

Mari Keski- Korsu (b. 1976, living and working in Helsinki and Sulkava, Finland) explores how ecological and socio-economic changes are manifested in people’s everyday lives –  how a macrocosm becomes a microcosm and vice-versa. Her works are of a political nature with a humorous twist. The starting point of her work is often a location, a place and the relationship of people with it. Mari’s FiR work at SSW has been spent developing her Oracle project, a transdisciplinary inter-species communication project, with local Clydesdale horses. Mari also contributed to CAMP BREAKDOWN BREAK DOWN, with her project  ‘Beat to the Balance’,

Simon Yuill is an artist, writer and programmer based in Glasgow. His  work includes the use of interview and research processes, film,  publishing, and custom software systems. Simon has been writing a series of texts by Simon Yuill relating to themes of the commons, labour and nature that SSW are publishing as part of their contribution to Frontiers in Retreat. These are freely available as an eBook PDF publication and the first one can be downloaded here: uncommonality_of_the_commons

Frontiers in Retreat Partners:
Scottish Sculpture Workshop – SSW, Scotland, UK

Mustarinda, Finland

Interdisciplinary Art Group SERDE, Latvia

Cultural Front – GRAD, Serbia

Centre d’Art i Natura de Farrera, Spain

Skaftfell – Center for Visual Art, Iceland

Jutempus, Lithuania



Over the course of this project, the artists and project partners, are brought together through a series of INCUBATOR workshops, hosted at each of the residency centres. These are periods of exchange, exploration and collaboration, often engaging directly with the local ecology of each site.

The SSW incubator will be held over the 9th-11th of March, and will include a complimentary evening public talks programme, more details will be published soon.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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