Searching Erskine: on art, ancestry, and place
“…when the over and done with comes alive, when the blind field comes into view, when your own and another’s shadow shines brightly”
Avery Gordon, Ghostly Matters (Minnesota University Press, Minneapolis, MN), 197.
This exhibition explores how art connects us to ancestry and place through a complementary series of works that respond to the uninhabited tidal island of Vallay, North Uist. It will launch to coincide with the release of Arun Sood’s 12 track album and book Searching Erskine, released in 2022 by Blackford Hill Audio in association with Random Spectacular; with visual artworks on display by Meg Rodger, Emile Kees, and Rosalind Blake.
A central figure in Vallay’s history is Erskine Beveridge (1851-1920)—a textile manufacturer turned antiquarian, photographer and archaeologist. Beveridge’s textile business funded his travels throughout Scotland, which led to the publication of several books on Scottish history and archaeology. Most notable were his archaeological excavations in the Outer Hebrides which he conducted from a lavish Edwardian mansion—Taigh Mòr—built on Vallay in 1905. From his base at the “Big House”, Beveridge excavated “Earth Houses”, found shards, polished bone fragments, and interpreted cultures of the past. Beveridge’s mansion has now fallen into ruins; itself becoming embedded in the cultural and geological layers of the island’s history.
Like Beveridge’s excavations, these works attempt to collapse temporalities by bringing the past into dialogue with the present in transformative ways. Spanning sound, geological printmaking, archival collage, and cosmological drawings, they explore the interface between ancestry, archive, art, archaeology and place.
Searching Erskine will be open in Gallery 1 from 10am – 4pm, Mondays to Saturdays.