Looking Across the Fields is a screening of artists’ documentary and experimental films, curated by Iain Irving. It considers contextual narratives of things in culture and nature, letting us speculate on and question the intermix of the fictional and the real from our own experiences.
…I saw the buffalo from the road bend, across the fields near the North Sea…, or I think it was, I hadn’t seen such beasts in real life before, not here anyway. If it was, how did they get there?
Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of ‘field’, ‘habitus’ and ‘capital’ propose that we identify with particular practices and dispositions in society and culture. We all relate to particular things, giving us knowledge and experience. Therefore, as we look around, there are things we recognise and connect with. We understand them; but there are other things that mean nothing, so are they fictional to us? In life, things serendipitously come to us. You may not have seen or experienced buffalo or wolves in Scotland, an art gallery by Hadrian’s Wall, vegetables falling from the sky or the sway of a dancer’s body. But, when you do and they are out of context, they make us squint and second-glance, triggering something within us to question their reality.________________Grenfell, M. (ed.). Pierre Bourdieu: Key Concepts. London: Acumen Press, 2008.
Maurice O’Brien, Buffalo Dreams, 2013. HD video, 15 min 38 sec.Dalziel + Scullion, Wolf, 2012. HD video, 21 min 28 sec.Helen Petts, Space & Freedom, 2018. HD video, 22 min 43 sec.Laure Prouvost, Grandma’s Dream, 2013. HD video, 9 min.Angus Hood, Disinterest Default, 2019. HD video, 5 min 24 sec.
Iain Irving is an independent curator, producer and writer. He lives in Catterline, Aberdeenshire and is a former Lecturer at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen. He has a M.Phil.from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. His ongoing research and work through his writing and curatorial practice explores observations, experiences and connections to be made from art, nature, history, context, culture and memories. Over the years, he has worked on exhibitions and projects for CCA, Glasgow; Duff House, Banff; Drum Castle, nr.Banchory; Deveron Arts, Huntly and Aberdeen Art Gallery. Currently, he is also a Coordinator for the Art UK Sculpture project and a Board member of Deveron Projects, Huntly.
Maurice O’Brien is a director of creative documentaries. He films much of his own work, often observing characters at close hand over long periods of time. After many years making arts documentaries for the BBC he recently set up his own production company, Lifeblood Films, and most recently finished an hour long documentary about the recently appointed Scottish directors of The Abbey – Ireland’s National Theatre.
Consumed by the idea of bringing American bison (commonly called ‘buffalo’) to his native Scotland, Scott Shand became the country’s first commercial bison farmer after buying a herd and relocating it to the small coastal village of Muchalls. Buffalo Dreams finds the animals struggling to adapt to the Scottish climate, and Scott struggling to keep his dream of a thriving Scottish bison farm alive. The film captures a slow collision between dreams and reality, and explores the complex and delicate interplay between people, animals and environments.
Buffalo Dreams was commissioned by the Scottish Documentary Institute as part of their ‘Bridging the Gap’ programme and funded by Creative Scotland.
Official Selection Edinburgh Film Festival, Full Frame Doc Fest, NY Op Docs, Sydney Film Festival.
Winner ‘Best Short’ at Hot Springs Doc Fest (Academy award-qualifying).
Matthew Dalziel and Louise Scullion are Scottish based artists who work with sculpture, photography, video and sound, to make artworks that distil and interpret our interactions with nature. Dalziel + Scullion have been selected for national and international exhibitions including the British Art Show and the Venice Biennale and have been awarded numerous awards and prizes including the Saltire Society Award for Art in Architecture, the Saltire Society Award for Art in Public Places, theEco Prize for Creativity and were short-listed for the international Artes Mundi Prize 2008.
Wolf is essentially about co-existence and loss, it is based around the story of the last wolf in Scotland, said to have been killed by the hunter Polson on or around 1700 near Helmsdale in Sutherland. The narrative of the film is written by Robin Lloyd-Jones and touches on ideas of migration, land use, religion and ecology. Other parts of the film have no words at all, only images and the sound of a looped solo fiddle performed by Aidan O’Rourke. The work was filmed around Helmsdale, an area synonymous with the Highland Clearances of the late 18th and early 19th century, when hundreds of crofting families were cleared off the land, particularly from the glens that radiate from Helmsdale, making way for large herds of livestock and new ways of managing land. With time, plantation forests, estate game hunting, farming and even gold panning, made further changes to this landscape, activities that fluctuate in relation to economic forces and cultural acceptances.
Commissioned in 2012 by Timespan Museum & Art Centre in Helmsdale. Words by Robin Lloyd-Jones. Music composed and performed by Aidan O Rourke.
Helen Petts started out in community video, directing low band u‑matic tapes with large clunky equipment that explored the experience of being a young woman. Her collaborative project “MsTaken” Identity, made with Albany Video and many young women’s groups won Best Foreign Video award at the Turin Youth Film Festival in 1986. Co-funded by the GLC Women’s Committee, it was also commissioned by Channel 4’s experimental 11th Hour series. She then worked in mainstream film drama as an assistant director, and TV as a producer/director of arts programmes including BBC2’s The Late Show. A major road accident shifted her into a different way of working. She studied Fine Art at Goldsmith’s College for a while concentrated on painting influenced by the legacy of minimalism. Returning to moving image work when technology became extremely small and portable she now works with a compact stills camera and a laptop exploring tiny shifts in light and sound in the world around her. She often travels to remote landscapes and in 2010 was artist in residence at Kathmandu University Ethnomusicology Department in an old temple in rural Nepal. Helen has a passion for experimental music of many forms and her work often involves collaboration with established musicians from the world of free improvisation such as Phil Minton, Roger Turner, Adam Bohman , Ute Wassermann, Lol Coxhill, Sylvia Hallett, John Russell, Okkyung Lee and Steve Beresford. In 2013 she was a visiting artist/lecturer at Bergen Art Academy. She has received numerous Arts Council awards. Recent solo exhibitions include Abbot Hall Gallery, Kendal, Hatton Gallery Newcastle, Trøndelag Centre for Contemporary Art, Trondheim and screenings at Tate Britain, Icon Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, CCA-Glasgow, Brighton Film Festival, Full of Noises Festival, Zwei Tage Zeitung Festival, Zurich.
When Chinese artist Li Yuan-chia left the London art scene for rural Cumbria in 1967, he said he was going in search of ‘Space and Freedom’. There he created a lively art centre – the LYC Museum – where he gave exhibitions to over 350 artists from both home and abroad. But for the last few years of his life, after closing the Museum, he was beset with financial and legal problems. His work became increasingly solitary in response to the landscape and his personal situation, and he died alone at the age of 56. Finding personal identification with his work and his life, artist filmmaker Helen Petts set out to explore the site where he had created the Museum. Walking in the surrounding landscape, exploring rhythm, textures and borderline abstract images and sounds on the way, she was given permission from the LYC Foundation to edit Li’s own archive film footage with her own. With this, she created an entirely new soundtrack from her own field recordings and sound recordings from feature films she has worked on. In addition, in the LYC archive, she discovered two previously unknown sound recordings, one of Li whistling which she edited with a shot of birds, layering and repeating it – and a second recording of Li talking alone to a microphone of his plans for the new museum. This she has used in its entirety. Then knowing that Li Yuan-chia listened to a great deal of contemporary classical music, she inserted small interludes of pianist Steve Beresford improvising to the images on prepared piano.Originally commissioned by Manchester Art Gallery and independent curator Hammad Nasar for the exhibition “Speech Acts” (May 2018-April 2019).Financially assisted by the Arts Council of England National Lottery Fund and the Li Yuan-chia Foundation.
Laure Prouvost was born in 1978 in Croix-Lille, France. She lives and works in London, UK and Antwerp, Belgium. After receiving the Max Mara Prize for Women , Prouvost was the first French artist to win the prestigious Turner Prize for contemporary British artists and/or living in Great Britain. Prouvost was a LUX Associate Artist 2008/9.
Grandma’s Dream was created as a companion piece to Wantee, Laure Prouvost’s Turner Prize winning film exhibition. Prouvost explores the sorrows and dreams of her grandmother, the abandoned partner of Prouvost’s missing artist ‘grandfather’. Prouvost first introduced the character of the ‘grandfather’ in her 2010 films ‘I need to take care of my conceptual grandad’ and ‘The Artist’ : an absent figure, he exists only in Prouvost’s films, sculptures and monologues. In the rosy, blue sky visions of Grandma’s Dream, planes that are half teapot, half-plane serve tea from the sky, and Prouvost’s grandma figure wishes for a world where conceptual art takes care of dinner. However the work is suffused with anxiety, and Prouvost combines language and images to construct invented storylines, exploring the slippages between fiction and reality.
Angus Hood was born in Glasgow in 1962, he studied painting at Edinburgh College of Art and he currently lives and works in Edinburgh. Recent exhibitions include Chamber of Maiden Thought, Plant, Glasgow and Artists Who Make Music, Musicians Who Make Art, Queens Park Railway Club, Glasgow.
Surfing. Degraded surf. For a fleeting moment some other pixelated imagery breaks through. Enthusiastic dancers disinterestedly repeat a routine. A cat. Instantaneity:- nostalgia’s servant. Repetition, difference, articulation of space and time in age of constant partial attention. – Angus Hood on Disinterest Default.