Frontiers in Retreat

Frontiers in Retreat (FiR) 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.

During the course of FiR, SSW has hosted residencies for six artists in the network and worked closely with each of them throughout to support and develop their individual projects. These artists are Brett Bloom, Sylvia Grace Borda, Fernando Garcia-Dory, Carl Giffney, Mari Keski-Korsu and Simon Yuill.

As the Frontiers in Retreat project draws to an end, we will present and reflect on each of these artist’s practices developed at SSW and bring these together with a wider group of practices through Edge Effects; a programme of workshops, walks, sound work, film and performance that explore the complex co-dependencies between ecological, social, economic, and political phenomena.

The SSW Edge Effects programme will take place in Glasgow between the 27 – 30 July, at the CCA and venues across the city. For the full programme please visit: Edge Effects

In the month leading up to the Edge Effects programme, each week we will feature a Frontiers in Retreat artist who has undertaken a residency at SSW. This is a great opportunity to share their projects which have been formulated and realised at SSW in rural Aberdeenshire, and will be presented during Edge Effects in Glasgow.

WEEK 3 – Frontiers In Retreat feature artist:
Sylvia Grace Borda

Sylvia Grace Borda is an actively engaged artist, curator, and lecturer bringing together unique partnerships that innovate in the development of social enterprises and in the support and the creation of new contemporary art platforms. She works with communities to enable them to profile their own local histories to wider public constituents through the arts and artistic interventions. Sylvia has held a number of academic positions, including Research Associate at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, Canada, and as an Honorary Research Fellow and Media lecturer at the University of Stirling, Scotland.

Lumsden Biscuit

Through her Frontiers in Retreat residencies at SSW, Sylvia Grace Borda worked with the Lumsden community over an 18-month period, bringing together a number of young and senior inhabitants of the community, to produce both an edible local product and create a new social enterprise for young people in the village.

The outcome of the project is the Lumsden Biscuit – these edible artworks are an innovation in representing local Aberdeenshire flora and in building community partnerships. The biscuits were designed using an early photographic process (the photogram) laying objects, such as flora, onto photographic paper and exposing it to light. The resulting photogram images of local flora became the designs for wooden biscuit moulds.  The artist worked closely with community experts and the young people in Lumsden village to produce shortbread artworks using the specially made moulds.  These artworks may be the first edible photograms. The Lumsden community continue to use the biscuit moulds to promote their community and to profile how contemporary art and food production can come together as a social enterprise.

In a region, where the majority of the traditional baking business has been taken over by big corporates (SSW is situated in the former bakery of the village), the local shortbread, made with heritage recipes and with imprints depicting local flora, pave way to small-scale alternative economy in the village. The Lumsden Biscuit project provides an example of the ways in which Borda aims to reassign value to under appreciated regions, cultural traditions and sociocultural landscapes.

Since the biscuit was joyfully launched with a big community ceilidh during the SSW Incubator in March 2016, the project has been strongly supported by the partners Lumsden Community Association, Lumsden Primary School and Scottish Sculpture Workshop. We are all committed to the project and collectively are working towards ensuring its sustainability. The biscuit, as a project and enterprise is now held by Lumsden Primary School and is to become one of the main products for their new community cafes – an exciting new venture that the new Head teacher Joanne Brown has successfully set up to encourage and support the children’s learning, but also to highlight the schools presence, and to help build relationships with the local community. All the proceeds of sales go back to the school and the local community to further enrich the village and make lumsden a more vibrant place to live.

Lumsden Biscuit Collaborators:
Collaborators include: sculpture-artist, J Keith Donnelly who carved the Lumsden Biscuit shortbread wooden moulds, volunteer teen and senior bakers from the Lumsden area, the Lumsden Community Association and local residents, Lumsden Primary School, and Scottish Sculpture Workshop.

Frontiers in Retreat: Edge Effects – Biscuit Interventions

The Lumsden Biscuit will be shared as part of  SSW Edge Effects programme in Glasgow at the end of July, in The Project Cafe. On Friday 28th and Saturday 29th July, The Project Cafe will be distributing Lumsden Biscuits when you buy a tea or coffee from them. Commissioned by SSW the biscuits have been made by Lumsden community bakers, and proceeds from the commission will go back into the village.

The Project Cafe, 2-1a Fleming House, 134 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G3 6ST.


Lumsden Community Bakers with artist


Lumsden Biscuit shown with its photogram equivalent


Portrait of artist with master shortbread bakers, Mrs Thompson and Mrs Petri

Further Reading and useful links:

Sylvia Grace Borda: http://www.sylviagborda.com/lumsden-biscuit.html

Lumsden Community Association: http://lumsdencommunity.co.uk/the-lumsden-biscuit/

SSW Incubator. Sitting on Eggs: What happens after the artwork?: https://www.ssw.org.uk/?p=5953

SSW Edge Effects programme: https://www.ssw.org.uk/?p=6658

Frontiers in Retreat: http://www.frontiersinretreat.org/

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