A Mighty Blow for Freedom
In 1997 ‘A Mighty Blow for Freedom’ saw Another Space place the iconic sculpture by Michael Sandle, at the time Sculpture Professor in the highly influential university in Karlsruhe, in the context of its Vorticist antecedent. The sculpture was placed in full view on a flat bed truck. It toured over 1500 miles around the Highlands of Scotland as part of the Highland Festival where it featured in a commissioned film for BBC Scotland and was supported by the Scottish Arts Council.
Artists involved: Trevor Avery & Nigel Mullen
The Rock Drill and Beyond
The exhibition, ‘The Rock Drill and Beyond’, provided a unique opportunity to consider a major piece of twentieth century sculpture, and to examine the historical context and circumstances under which the sculpture was made and subsequently dismantled.
This installation allowed the fully reconstructed Rock Drill of 1913, by Jacob Epstein, to be placed in the context of the First World War.
The sculpture was exhibited alongside memorabilia, images and artifacts dating from the 1914-1918 War (obtained from museum collections and loaned by members of the public) and was the first showing for the Rock Drill in Scotland, and only the third time the full scale version had been shown in the UK.
These sculpture and objects were used to create an installation which linked Epstein’s major work of modernist art with the time of its making. This version of the Rock Drill should not be confused with the truncated bronze version on display in the Tate Gallery in London.
Six contemporary artists from Scotland were also commissioned to produce works influenced by the Rock Drill. Their pieces were placed throughout the exhibition bringing some of the concerns and issues raised by this controversial sculpture into the present day.
The exhibition was curated by Another Space and exhibited in Inverness Museum and Art Gallery between 16 May and 13 June 1998 and was followed by a tour of galleries in the Scottish Highlands.
Text from the catalogue, written by Trevor Avery, was enlarged and mounted in Thomas Hirschhorn’s U-Topia Room as part of the Common Wealth exhibition in Tate Modern in late 2004.
The following is a review by Mary Beith in The Herald Scotland
“Jacob Epstein’s Rock Drill is strikingly chilling.
The sculptor told in his autobiography how he bought a rock drill and upon it ”made and mounted a machine like a robot, visored, menacing, and carrying within itself its progeny, protectively ensconced. Here is the armed, sinister figure of today and tomorrow. No humanity, only the terrible Frankenstein’s monster we have made ourselves into . . .” The 10ft-high work – a reconstruction of the one Epstein dismantled after fatuous criticism at its public exhibition in 1913 – is on show for the first time in Scotland at the Rock Drill and Beyond exhibition in Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, though it might have been better displayed on the wide landing instead of just inside glass doors where its head all but jostles with lighting tracks. The exhibition’s focus is the First World War and the response of art, with a secondary (and insufficiently examined) theme of the war’s social and economic effects on the Highlands. The war had a huge effect on an area which lost more than its share of young men to the atrocities of trench warfare. As the wildlife population soared, sporting ”guns” having opted for Flanders, a ”land fit for heroes” did not await men returning to economic collapse and two decades of dramatic population decline. The strengths of community life began to fall apart. Present-day artists were invited to respond to the Rock Drill. The result is rather tame. Where Epstein and the anarchic Marcel Duchamp – whose work is represented by a display of books and photographs – look forward to a century of alienation, the nineties artists are drawn backwards rather than ”Beyond”, meeting the vigour of the early twentieth-century artists in a bleak buffer-zone of despair. Two exceptions stand out. Gavin Lockhart’s teasing CCTV construction operates by long pebbles in metal circles suspended in a pulley system, the video screen twisting sinister surveillance into a mechanical quip with a sombre side as the camera swivels across war memorabilia and a disturbing trough of mud (latrine, trench, or both?). And Mary Rosengren’s work brings a startling, blood-red, humanised contrast to the dispiriting monochromes of much else. Daintily embroidered cards, made by wounded men and posted to women at home, are as haunting as the stark replica execution post with its genuine Arras plaque. The whole, with its contradictions and compromises, is deeply moving.”
Artists involved: Another Space, Robert Callender, Gavin Lockhart, Alex Main, Tim Pomeroy, Frank Pottinger, Mary Rosengren.
In collaboration with Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, The Highland Festival, Highland Council Cultural and Leisure Services.
Asylrecht was a multimedia installation comprising of the film ‘Asylrecht’, a section of the Berlin Wall, and detritus from a refugee camp in Serbia. It acted as a comment on The Refugee as a Monument to the Twentieth Century.
The exhibition was curated and designed by Another Space and exhibited during the summer of 1998 in a large aircraft hangar at Highland Deephaven, a former airfield on the shores of the Cromarty Firth.
The film ‘Asylrecht’ was made by in 1948 by Peter Shankland, a Scottish film maker and author. His daughter Cathy lives in the Scottish Highlands, close to the Cromarty Firth, and was the inspiration for the project.
In association with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Bundesarchiv, and Transit Film Berlin. Supported by Scottish Arts Council, Ross and Cromarty Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and The Highland Council.
“In 1999 an old military aerodrome on the banks of the Cromarty Estuary, in the Scottish Highlands, was the scene for GERNIKA!, an exhibition without precedent. It showed the work of artists in the Basque Autonomous Community, Navarra, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, and Cuba. This was an impressive and symbolic event, structured around a seminal painting from the avant-gardist movement, and an event central to the 20th century. The painting was Picasso’s “Guernica” and the event was the Spanish Civil War. It was seen as something very unusual to art”. Gernika Peace Museum Foundation
Having been held in Scotland, Eibar and Pamplona, the exhibition moved finally to Gernika-Lumo, the city that inspired Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ and is now archived in the Gernika Museoa: Bakearen Museoa.
Artists involved: Another Space, Iñaki Elizalde, Tony Grady, Liz Ogilvie, Andrew Stenhouse, Juan Ugalde, Nelson Villalobo, Una Walker, Jose Luis Zumeta.
Supported by Scottish Arts Council, Ross and Cromarty Enterprise, Hi Arts Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Pamplona District Council, Basque Regional Authority, ERDF Objective One, and The Highland Council.
Subterranean Landscape Blues
Subterranean Landscape Blues was an installation comprising digital film and museological pieces and was based on the history and present day impact of the oil industry and militarism on the Highlands of Scotland, and on the Cromarty Firth in particular.
The focus of the film and installation centred on twentieth century military underground oil storage facilities in the hills above Invergordon. These cathedral sized caverns were used to store oil for the British Navy and were connected to the dock at Invergordon by underground pipelines.
These were little known and had not been filmed until this project. Subterranean Landscape Blues was a New Media Scotland Commission that premiered at Art.tm in Inverness in 2000. It also exhibited at Glasgow Film Theatre and Belmont Cinema, Aberdeen.
Excerpt from ‘Subterranean Landscape Blues’ film
Artists involved: Trevor Avery & Nigel Mullen