In this post, as we near the end of this residency, we wanted to ask the people who have been involved in the project but who are (mostly) ‘out of the woods’ for their take on it, the intentions and expectations and what the lasting impact might be.
Meg Telfer, Borgie Forest Cabin Project:
‘When we explored the possibility of refurbishing the cabin and were successful in our funding bid (funding from NESTA – National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) one of our visions for our “magical” – this word was in and out of our descriptions of the cabin like a yoyo, but yes it is magical, so in it stayed – building was that it be used to encourage creativity.
The Forest of Glass residency in partnership with North Lands Creative Glass is a dream come true.
The cabin is home and studio space, in the neighbouring Forestry Commission Scotland Cabin, to four young artists, three who work in glass and one who never has. Three from the UK and one from east coast USA.
They settled in very quickly, but were not so quick to get used to the silence and the darkness at night. One way they have found of passing dark evenings and nights is to wrap up take out chairs and stargaze, ever hoping for the Northern Lights to dance across the heavens. They haven’t, but meteor showers have.
They have all been taken out of their comfort zone and on the whole seem to be relishing the experience.’
Denis Mann, Engraver and North Lands Creative Glass artist mentor:
‘Speaking at the very first master class at North Lands Bertil (Vallien) said we were ‘pioneers’; this residency was truly ground breaking, a real quantum leap!
I think the best comment came from the residents this afternoon: simply; “We will never forget this”’
Michael Bullen, North Lands Creative Glass Studio Manager:
‘The phrase “making marks on glass,” is so simple and so short, the reality of giving four artists the ability to do this, in a remote forest in the highlands of Scotland some 70 miles distant from the main studio was a little more complex.
But the studio was set up, the marks have been made and the possibilities engendered by this residency both for the artists and for North Lands Creative Glass are endless.’
Patricia Niemann, North Lands Creative Glass artist mentor for the project:
‘What the ‘Forest Four’ are living, is the artist’s dream. Being able to experience and work without normal interferences and pressures, instead diving headlong in and giving yourself up to remoteness and nature with all it’s threats and challenges. It offers richness and rewards, while we are amazed by their progress and results.
After all, we love this place and like to watch when it inspires others, too, and gets re-interpreted in the shape of exciting new work.’
David Moss, multimedia artist, A Forest of Glass project photographer and filmmaker:
‘I’ve followed the artists to their favourite locations in the forest and beyond; tramping through swamps, jumping over river channels, enduring the chill breeze off the Ben Loyal mountain range. I’ve been buffeted by the bracing North Atlantic winds on the Torrisdale cliffs, I’ve clambered through dense undergrowth in search of the perfect shot, discovered the miniature worlds that exist in the microcosmos of the forest, and have seen the most glorious expansive vistas of the unique North Sutherland coastal region.
The artists are a very talented and committed group, their passion for their work is contagious and my involvement as documenter of their activity has been very rewarding. They are all very different artists whose skills and interests balance and contrast to create a solid critical environment.
Wil is seeking the stories in the sacred objects of cyclical time, the discarded tools of historic productivity. Heather is determined to tame the elements to make delicate work in physically demanding locations. Laura is forensically examining the worlds within worlds and discovering the glamours of the decaying forest. Madeline is communicating with the place, becoming one with the forest and the river and recording the transmissions as geomantic forms on paper. The art-making is just a part of a process of creative development. The totality of their experience has been, in my view, an environmental epiphany. If making art is about losing the self, then where best to realise that process than in a place where the artistic self is perpetually escaping from all expectation.’
Lorna O’Brien, Innovation & Business Development Director, North Lands Creative Glass:
‘A Forest of Glass was devised as an experimental residency. At North Lands we have a great track record of glass and mixed-media residencies and we’re always looking to develop new ideas and try out new models. We see residencies as offering that essential time for artists to immerse themselves in their practice but to do it in a new and inspirational environment makes for life and art-changing experiences. This project has surpassed our expectations.
The partnership with the Borgie Forest Cabin Project and the support of Creative Futures have given us the chance to be adventurous and ambitious with this project, to take artists out of the studio environment and challenge them on many levels. In our residencies we bring together four artists to live and work together for eight weeks, in this case in very close quarters and in a remote and isolated location. The residents have really risen to and embraced the challenge and I think they will feel the influence of this experience for a long time to come. We have also learned a lot that will help to shape our future programmes.
Thanks to everyone who’s been following the adventures of the Forest Four, I’ve really enjoyed doing this blog on behalf of the residents (as their internet access has been next to none), it’s been great to get such a positive response to it and the whole project. The residency is not quite over yet, and we will carry on gathering photos and words from the artists to share with you.’
Photo credit: David Moss