David Cass: Rising Horizon

In the run up to artist David Cass’s environmentally focused exhibition ‘Rising Horizon’ at The Scottish Gallery (30 January – 23 February) Art North will be featuring one work per day by the artist for the next seven days. Each work will be accompanied by a text that addresses some aspect of Cass’s work, or that has direct relevance to it. As the pre-exhibition publicity materials from The Scottish Gallery state, “Every artwork David Cass has created since leaving art school is united by a relentless illustration of water: in its presence, abundance, absence. In this new body of work David Cass explores the abstract notion of a rising horizon, using beautifully painted seascapes as vehicles to explore themes of global warming and sea rise.”

The work selected for this first post in our series on Cass’s upcoming exhibition is titled Horizon 42% (2017-2019). The accompanying text, included below, is by Prof. David Reay, Chair in Carbon Management, University of Edinburgh, and takes the form of a foreword to the exhibition catalogue, as well as a brief introduction to what might be considered the backstory to Cass’s work and his ongoing interests as an artist.

David Cass, Horizon 42% (2017-2019), oil and varnishes on copper boiler, H:79cm W:70cm D:30cm

David Cass – Rising Horizon

Prof. David Reay

On the land, vast swathes of natural forest have been felled and their soils ploughed up. The carbon released has joined that from fossil burning in a smothering heat blanket encircling the globe. This hotter atmosphere super-charges the water cycle, bringing devastating flash floods in one place just as it saps away moisture and bakes earth into dust in another.

Across the oceans, sea levels are rising. Expansion of the warming waters combines with ever more ice melt from land to endanger millions around the world. Each notch higher on the global thermometer means a step closer to the irreversible loss of the ice sheets.

Climate change threatens the health of all planetary systems, its plants, its animals, and us too. Global carbon emissions must now fall to zero by the middle of this century. In the Paris Climate Agreement the nations of the world have plotted a route map to get there. Travelling that road will be the greatest undertaking in human history.

At the core of planetary health is sustainability. Sustainable use of Earth’s resources, knowledge of and respect for its boundaries. David’s work embodies all of this.

The rising horizon is a very real threat to millions of people, yet in his beautiful and inspired repurposing and reuse of materials David illuminates an alternative future. A future where the products we consume have lives beyond landfill sites. A future where resources are part of a circular economy, one that recognises their value and the true cost of their waste.

The horizon is rising. Just how far is now down to us.


The above text is used with kind permission and remains the property of Prof. David Reay (© the author, all rights reserved). The Scottish Gallery is the oldest and largest contemporary independent gallery in Scotland. Open Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm; Sat 10am-4pm; Sun Closed. An Artist talk, with David Cass and Prof. David Reay has been arranged by the gallery, further details of which will appear on our website soon.