Over the last week we’ve been glad to welcome our second winter residency group of 2020, with artists Mhairi Killin, Anka Helfertová, Lili Huston-Herterich, Shona Robin MacPherson and Siân McIntyre.
All artists responded to our Winter Residency call, which explores the muddy tensions between materiality and extraction within a time of climate breakdown. Here we share their plans for the residency period and an insight into their interests and practices.
The second Winter Residency of 2020 runs from 2 – 30 March 2020.
Isle of Iona, Scotland
Mhairi works with drawing, print, sculpture and installation in an exploration of the landscapes of Iona, as set within the wider social and political framework in which island culture rests. Previous work has explored the iconoclasm of the Reformation and its impact on the auditory landscapes of Lewis and Iona and current work explores representations of political and religious belief in landscape through an inquiry into the proximity of God and warfare in the landscapes of the Hebrides. On residency at SSW, Mhairi plans to continue her research in these areas, framed by the question: when a culture’s inherent ideology of “land as community” is damaged by extraction by external agencies, what are the impacts on the ethnic and natural ecologies of that landscape?
Anka considers her practice as extended research on how we are dealing with what is material, and what is non-human. She is interested in ancient conditions of thinking – or in thinking as precisely not an exclusively human possibility. Recent work, ‘Three conversations about matter’ is an engagement with the difficulties of the term ‘matter’. It is a book of theory – fiction, in which Anka approaches the impossibilities and history of the concept in form of a lively dialogue between several, mostly non-human, characters. She says, “it arose from my need to confront the simple question – is matter animated? And what are the effects of our answers, as I believe that placing the human consciousness first prepares the ground for reckless extractive behaviour.” At SSW Anka will be investigating pre-industrial methods of dress-making to explore folds and membranes. https://www.ankahelfert.com/
Through residency at SSW, Lili is seeking to explore a conflict in her current sculptural practice. In her studio, Lili routinely accumulates materials, progressing work through simultaneous sorting and research led by these materials. This process is informed by feminist research practices, where a material practice intertwines with the lived experiences of the maker. Recently Lili has been considering how this method closely mimics current violent and unsustainable capitalist cycles: where taking, extracting, and consuming all function as actions that represent power and exclusionary history telling. In Lumsden, Lili will explore this conflict through refuse material and waste systems and testing methodologies for generating new works and practices without needing to re-make or dispose of materials.
Shona Robin MacPherson
Shona’s research considers the categorisation and histories embedded within native, non-native and invasive plant species, and the historical human entanglements with these. She suggests, “these plants could be seen as a relic of Scotland’s imperialist past; a type of dirt and contagion flipped on its head; a type of contamination immutable from our current landscape”. Through the residency programme at SSW, Shona intends to explore situated knowledges and entangled histories within the local plant ecology, considering themes of anthropo-mastery and industrial impact on landscapes.
Siân is an artist and curator, who works with feminist and queer methodologies to subvert colonial and patriarchal structures. Since 2019, she has been researching alternative ways of discussing value in the arts, considering how can the economics of an art practice change when we focus on the process of making the artwork rather than the resulting object. During the residency, Siân is developing a ‘process trace’ within her own practice, to make visible the hours of, ‘experimenting, thinking and navigation’ that take place in the studio.
This is the second Winter Residency group of 2020. Read more about what the first group got up to here.