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Looking North Through Art: Sekai Machache

The St Andrews Centre for Contemporary Art is delighted to be supporting the event series Looking North Through Art, a 2-part talk series which will run over the 2022-23 academic year, alongside STACEES and the Centre for Energy Ethics.

Over the course of eight events, four artists – to be paired with writers/ researchers in the second round – explore concepts of landscape and nature in Scotland. Through discussing some of their projects and thoughts, speakers will provide alternative approaches and perspectives which stand in contrast with and move beyond mainstream narratives surrounding the idea of “Scottish landscape”. This series invites speakers and participants to reflect upon those themes through the lens of art and writing, guided by questions of climate change, ecocriticism and energy ethics. The first round of talks will run from August through October 2022, followed by the second part, currently scheduled for early 2023 (tbc).

Our guest for the second event in the series on Thursday 8 September 2022 from 5.15-6.16pm (online) is Sekai Machache (she/her), a Zimbabwean-Scottish visual artist and curator based in Glasgow, Scotland. Her work is a deep interrogation of the notion of self. She is interested in the relationship between spirituality, imagination and the role of the artist in disseminating symbolic imagery to provide a space for healing. Sekai’s most recent project, Divine Sky, utilises allegory and performance to tell a complicated history through poesis, immersive storytelling, and photography. This work denotes a process of inscribing and re-inscribing thought through automatic drawing with ink on paper, indigo parchment on fabric, performance to camera, layering and overlaying.

Sekai’s short film, Profound Divine Sky, was shot at Forsinard at the Flow Country in the Scottish Highlands, and will form the central focus of our discussion. Through movement, and to the accompaniment of four spoken poems, Sekai explores the ways in which Black bodies exist in rural landscapes. Sekai has written the following about the making of this exquisite film: ‘The image of the sky reflected in the peat bogs caught me as a beautiful image and became crucial to this project that encompasses many themes…Scottish landscape, African metaphysics and cosmology, ritual practice, Celtic song, ritual performance, Gaidhlig language, and Black Scottish Identity. I moved from confined studio/domestic spaces, continually drawing for the earlier pieces of The Divine Sky project, to finally getting the opportunity to travel North and the space suddenly stretching for miles and miles of gorgeous Scottish landscape, peatlands, sphagnum moss, and water. I perform in this place, tracing the language of water, my movements careful yet fluid.’

Sekai is the recipient of the 2020 RSA Morton Award and is an artist in residence with the Talbot Rice Residency Programme 2021-2023. She recently joined Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop as a board member and works for Scottish Contemporary Arts Network (SCAN) as an Artist Policy Officer. Sekai works internationally and often collaboratively and is a founding and organising member of the Yon Afro Collective (YAC).

This event will be recorded for public distribution. By attending, you are agreeing to allow any participation in the session to be part of that recording.

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