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2006 Commissioning of  3 Artists

Our project will involve Commissioning of artists to work location specifically on 3 key sites of historical and scientific interest in Sutherland. The project will be managed by an arts director with a local administrator and will utilise the digital arts studio in Durness as a base.  It will include contact time with young people in this social inclusion area and workshops in Farr, Kinlochbervie High Schools and Durness, Kinlochbervie, Tongue, Farr Primary Schools


The intention of the residency is for artists to engage with the sites and develop site specific work that will be accessible to the local community and beyond.  The artistic interpretation of the site will develop over the period of each artist's residency and culminate in an exhibition/event.

The period of the project will be for one year during which time three residencies will be offered. 

The unique sites located in Sutherland will offer each of the artists an opportunity to research the sites and develop their work through exposure to each of the site's unique history and structure. The artists will be encouraged to develop links with other professionals in the areas of study in order to expand their range of knowledge and imaginative vision toward the final exhibition. The artists will present a site specific exhibition that incorporates elements of this research and their experience within the highland community. They will have the freedom and support to be experimental within their practice in order to realise this and the facilities within the digital studio in Durness with assistants to assist them. The project will be well documented in order to encourage dialogue and debate among the arts community and the wider community.


Joanne Kaar, Ruth Macdougall and Deirdre Nelson, each with a distinctive profile and working in different forms and media.

Three artists in residence in Mackay Country Joanne B Kaar based in Durness, Ruth Macduogall based in Strathnaver, Deirdre Nelson on Handa Island and front Norman Gibson arts coordinator for the project

Joanne B Kaar is based at Dunnet Head, on the north coast of Caithness  Joanne will be working from Durness based at the community house with specific interest in Cape Wrath. Joanne is a fibre artist and has particular expertise in paper-making and its associated creative artifacts – including ‘log books’ and their history

Deirdre Nelson, from Ireland but now based in Glasgow will be working on Handa Island based in Eddracilles. Deirdre’s textile practice has evolved through experimenting with materials and methods of making in which hand work and craftsmanship provide both direction and context. Hand skills are transposed though the work in a humorous commentary on social and textile history within the contemporary gallery. Her textile work employs a variety of techniques and materials fusing traditional textile skills and contemporary reinterpretation through photography and digital manipulation. Deirdre works in a variety of scales and explores social dimensions through textiles, with sewing and knitting retaining their hand-skilled character while being considerably more than a technical processes. 


Ruth Macduogall is from Glasgow and will be working in Strathnaver based in Skerray. Ruth will seek to communicate the socio-political history of the site in a way that would empower the local community, identifying their relationship with the site and offering a site specific happening that would encourage a dialogue between past and present. Since graduating with a first class honours degree from the Glasgow School of Art Ruth has spent much of her time travelling, researching and collaborating on artistic projects, enabled by the British Airways Travel award she was given for her final degree show work. Ruth’s site-specific practice is intriguingly wide-ranging, but she has recently returned to photography and performance-to-camera.


To liase and to direct the programme of residencies that are site specific and to ensure artistic excellence and exhibition/event presentation with professional assistance to the artists Norman Gibson has been appointed as arts coordinator for the project

Norman is a Sculptor and designer with a thematic focus on landscape, archaeology and visual memory. He has had many exhibitions at solo, regional and national levels alongside an educational career in Scotland and England¾including seven years as lecturer and director of studies in art and design education at the University of Warwick and three years as head of the department of Arts, Design and Performance at Manchester Metropolitan University completing his Doctoral research on the interplay of visual and verbal arts, with associated papers delivered at international conferences in Finland, Canada and Portugal. Born in Edinburgh and educated at Ellon Academy, Aberdeenshire, and subsequently at colleges and universities north and south of the border Norman returned to Scotland in 1997. His deep family roots in Sutherland and a converging interest in local history and landscape, extended by studies of past cultures on Aberdeen University’s Certificate Course in Field Archaeology and a Master’s Degree in Archaeology and Heritage at the University of Leicester gives Norman the appropriate qualifications to  ensure the artists are directed in the appropriate fields.

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