To mark Bannockburn House’s first major art installation, TRANSPARENCy, we caught up with the ten local artists involved to find out more about their artwork:
Organised by Gossip Collective, the contemporary art exhibition was the brainchild of visual artist Lesley McDermott who first visited the community owned 17th century mansion pre-lockdown.
She said: “On my first visit to Bannockburn House I was struck by its amazing resilience. Despite the ravages of time, it has stood, elegant, proud and beautiful. I was moved by the sense of time, wistful memories that lingered, feelings of wonder, intrigue and respect for the lives of the people that dwelled in this building. As I walked, delighted, through each of the rooms, the surrounding interiors and ephemera held me spellbound. I invited other members of the collective to discover the house too; with each of us going on to choose part of the house as the inspiration and setting for our work.”
The collaborative project was part-funded by a micro-grant from the city’s place partnership for arts and culture, Scene Stirling, and a walk through of the exhibition premiered on Facebook on Saturday 28 November. You can watch it here.
“My installations in the upstairs dressing room and servants’ quarters focus on creating 3D mixed media compositions. They each incorporate a variety of elements, using hanging, hand printed fabrics, positioned in relation to small sculptural pieces that explore aspects of the architectural motifs, historical references and imagined inhabitants of Bannockburn House.”
“I live within three miles of the house and didn’t know of its existence, until Lesley McDermott told me all about it. I quickly fell in love with the house’s grandeur, history and beautiful air of aged calm. This is reflected in the colours and textures I have used. I hope people see the spirits of those who have passed through in the floating pieces. I studied constructed textiles at art school, so my instinct is to create materials. I am happy to cross from fine art to design and my installation questions the blurred lines between fine art and design.
“When I arrived to install the piece, Ross the Events Manager was full of amazing facts about the house. He is so clearly devoted to and proud of this place, it’s clear that it’s a very special place to him and the local community.”
“My installation features birthing rituals, taken from Medieval, Georgian and Victorian times I’ve worked as a Pagan Spiritualist since a very young age and my work is inspired by the pagan and spiritual world. The use of herbs, spices and natural objects have featured in my work for many years. This installation is unique and personal to me as a ‘Green Witch’. I’m expecting my first child and plan to use these natural birthing rituals, as opposed to modern medicines.
“Sadly the midwives who practiced these natural element rituals were often accused of witchcraft, especially in the time of Oliver Cromwell. Even today, the use of herbs and natural elements are often frowned upon in modern medicine.”
“During lockdown I received two gifts: my Peace lily flowering for the first time in three years and a beautiful screen-print from Lesley McDermott as part of her “Sisters” series.
“When I saw the blue-green colour scheme of the image and its vertical lines, I immediately thought of that strangely magical moment when my plant seemed to grow from nothing. It made me feel hopeful in a strange and uncertain time, and I wanted to capture that feeling in a poem.
“I also added some stitching to the screen-print as I wanted to magnify the floral design of the image.”
“Rats are misunderstood beings. They are deemed as vermin, the lowest of the low however what the majority fail to see is the intelligent, gentle being that resides within the small creature’s body. They radiate the energy of being a survivor.
“These rats explore the concept of the space that these individuals fill, each rat represents a lost friend. Making a non-space, a fulfilled space again.
“This work is inspired by personal circumstances, of understanding animal nature, representation and symbolism.”
“The 3D printed sculptures on display have been remixed from original works of cultural significance. I am attracted by the idea of displaying objects outside of formal institutions, hopefully this will allow the viewer to observe them in a different light. Previously these recreations were displayed in a white walled gallery. The idea of taking historic works and reimagining them in a contemporary way and then placing them back into a historical setting is what really interested me about this project.”
“When I first visited Bannockburn House, I was inspired by the stories of the house itself but also by the atmosphere and amazing features inside. I was particularly drawn to the texture of the charred remains of the fireplace and doors after the fire, and the way that the light reflects onto them. The wall on the main staircase really shows the passage of time and the neglect of the house with the layers of flaking paint, dampness and moss climbing up the wall. My fashion piece draws on these elements and also represents a spirit of the past.
“I’ve named my exhibit ‘Hiding in Plain Sight.’ The idea being that the spirit is always lingering but conceals her presence by blending into the environment like a chameleon. In keeping with the theme of transparency I have used and created transparent fabrics and materials in my design.”
“Making these works for the Bannockburn House Exhibition I was thinking about the break-up of the relationship between Clementina Walkinshaw and Bonnie Prince Charlie and the control that he still had on her life and that of their child Charlotte long after they separated.
“There is reference in the individual titles – ‘There’s a hole in my sock’, ‘I can live with it’ and
‘I can’t breathe’ – to conversations with my own daughter and also to current world events relating to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Placing these pieces together in the historical context of the house and the domestic setting brings together not only images but different times, narratives and stories both personal and universal. It highlights issues of oppression in the context of personal domestic situations as well as in the wider context of society, as well as the role that the past still plays on the present. The collective name for the work is ‘The Awakening Conscience’.”
A woman’s body
skin bone flesh blood
the flower is a symbol of birth and rebirth
my friend is dying.
“ ‘The Doocot Loch’ painted for the ‘Transparency’ exhibition is inspired by the grounds of Bannockburn House – looking out past the Doocot, which you can see from the room where the work is situated in exhibit. I took both the title and place as inspiration, working from photographs on the Bannockburn House blog as reference. This piece was painted during lockdown, and without the opportunity to visit in person, I worked from a photograph of the Doocot and a very flooded farmers field in the background, aptly named the ‘Doocot Loch’.
“I fused this inspiration with the word Transparency – applying it to the way I worked, in very thin layers of acrylic, to build the colours up in fine layers of colour washes.
“The beauty of this project is the openness of the brief, and the variety of disciplines responding to such an inspirational property. It was great seeing some of the installations on set up day interacting with the space in such different ways.”
To download a free copy of the exhibition brochure visit the Gossip Collective website.
A slideshow of the images above, taken by Bannockburn House volunteer Hugh McCusker, can also be viewed here.