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Looking North Through Art: Sophie Gerrard

Next Event: Monday, 3 October, from 5.15-6.15pm (Online via MS Teams)

Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/looking-north-through-art-sophie-gerrard-tickets-399515671127?aff=ebdsoporgprofile

“Looking North Through Art” is a series of online talks in two parts. 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. Part I will run from August through October 2022, followed by Part II in early 2023.

For our fourth, and final event that will conclude part one, we are thrilled to host the award-winning photographer Sophie Gerrard. Her practice has been evolving for 14 years, and is characterised by sensitive and evocative visual exploration of the natural environment and landscape and our relationship to it. The central concerns of her work are people, environmental connection, identity and belonging, drawing from archives and personal narratives. Her work is often as much an exploration of others’ lives and connections with landscape as her own.

“Drawn to the Land” is a project that has been ongoing and evolving for the past 10 years. It aims to look at “Scottish landscape” through the perspective of six female farmers ‘who are working, forming and shaping it’. These women work in a male-dominated industry, and tend to farm more inhospitable and isolated rural areas in Scotland. They share an understanding of themselves as custodians, rather than landowners, a detail that is indicative of a different mindset and relationship between human and “nature” – one with the potential to move beyond commodification, extraction, and exploitation. It shapes their relationship with the landscape that surrounds them – often defined by a harsh reality that contrasts the romantic illusions proffered by the tourism industry. Drawn to the Land also explores this relationship in the context of notions of home and belonging from the perspective of an underrepresented group, namely that of female farmers. Moreover, reflections on how different forms of energy shape those relationships, places, and a farmer’s experience of them will further enrich this talk series’ exploration of alternative approaches to landscape and energy ethics in Scotland.

Sophie has been the recipient of many accolades, including the Jerwood Photography Award, a Fuji Bursary, a Magenta Fast Forward Award, the Remote Photography Award, and the Brighton Photodocument award. Her most recent solo show was held in 2019 at the Perth Museum & Art Gallery, and Sophie’s work is currently on view at the Museum für Europäische Kulturen in Berlin, as part of an exhibition called Document Scotland: Reflections on a Changing Country. The show is named after Document Scotland, a collective of internationally acclaimed photographers dedicated to chronicling the social, cultural, and economic life in Scotland, which Sophie co-founded in 2012.

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