NOVEMBER 2018, RESIDENCY AT THE BOWLING HARBOUR PROJECT WITH LODESTONE CREATIVE IN WEST DUMBARTONSHIRE, SCOTLAND
I had a fantastic time at Bowling Harbour in West Dumbartonshire and I would like to thank Lodestone Creative for selecting me for this opportunity.
I very much enjoyed absorbing myself in the brooding November Scottish landscape. The location of my residency was on the edge of Bowling; a small town at the foot of the Kilpatrick Hills on the shores of the river Clyde. This area was once alive with the manufacture of boats, whisky and glass however it is currently struggling with the social and economic affects of post-industrialism.
The pivotal piece of work I made there was a photographic series titled ‘In Search of Horatio’, which referenced two other artists; Horatio McCulloch and Bas Jan Ader. During my time there I researched paintings of the area at Kelvingrove Art Museum; specifically pre-industrial landscapes from the Romantic era. My research had led me to McCulloch’s painting ‘The Clyde from Dalnottar Hill’ 1858. This view being in such close proximity to the location of my residency was obviously intriguing and I decided to attempt to find the spot where McCulloch had stood to paint.
I quickly realised that this would be difficult due to the urbanity of the landscape now. Indeed the location Google Maps gave me was largely obscured by houses, however the main difference to the view was the Erskine Bridge, an addition that has spanned the Clyde since 1971.
Wondering around I attempted to see McCulloch’ view but with little success. I decided to walk onto the bridge to see the view, it would be a lot higher than McCulloch’s viewpoint but the only way to properly see the vista beyond. I approached the bridge with some unease as along with its height and oppressive proximity to speeding cars it has a notorious reputation for the large number of suicides committed from it. Indeed on first approach you are met with helpline signs and SOS phones. However as I walked across the bridge McCulloch’s view was finally coming into view between the horizontal barrier bars. This ‘suicide barrier’ was recently installed after the deaths of two teenage girls who apparently held hands as they leaped from the bridge, captured headlines.
Finally peering between these bars McCulloch’s view was visible and standing on the bridge it appeared strangely unchanged, but the context was overwhelming; that this was the last glimpsed view of the suicidal held a certain poignancy when framed within the context of the Romantic era and the legacy of the sublime.
The search for the sublime is paramount in the work of conceptualist artist Bas Jan Adder and the photographic documentation of my ‘In search of Horatio’ parodies Ader’s ‘In Search of The Miraculous’ (One night in Los Angeles) 1973, in which Ader presented 18 black and white photographs of a walk through the Hollywood Hills to the coast. I thought a lot about Ader; his Fall series and famously his last work whereby he was lost at sea undertaking a voyage in a tiny sailing vessel from America to England.
It is exactly this duality and tension in nature that represents my own interest in the sublime. And high-up staring across at McCulloch’s view whilst listening to the relentless hum of the cars, was a moment that held exactly that.