Having the opportunity to undertake an artists’ residency is a privilege and a luxury, being able to do it in our own backyard, a valley we’ve lived in for the best part of 25 years is a true blessing, a chance to take a fresh look at the surroundings and also indulge in some research that otherwise we’d be unlikely to make time for. Our project, run by Upland with funding from Creative Scotland and the Galloway Glens explores the past present and future of the Galloway Hydro Electric scheme, an ambitious engineering project fulfilled in the 1930s.

We kicked off with several community engagement sessions, from the Men’s shed to the local nursery, primary and secondary schools, the farmers market to the local art centre.  It was fundamental to our work to interact with the community and get a sense of how they feel about the system, which is so dominant in the local landscape, although to many the lochs appear as natural features and have been dearly adopted as elements of the ‘natural’ scenery.

(Image courtesy Morag Paterson)

(Image courtesy Morag Paterson)

For my part I decided to work with cyanotypes for this project as well as digital photography, it seemed like an ideal time to teach myself this technique, using the sun to create imagery. I’d experimented with solar graphs a couple of years ago as part of a collaborative project and it had piqued my interest in alternative processes.

My first few pieces involved elements of the engineering and structure of the dams, then through some of the community engagement processes I decided to map the entire water catchment that flows into the hydro-electric system.  This was also influenced by a 3D map on display at Tongland Power Station, which we toured as part of our research.  The result is reminiscent of a tree, or a lung, the landscape reduced to its building blocks – the watercourses.

Click to Enlarge (Image courtesy Morag Paterson)

More so than ever, my last 25 years is woven into this piece, as I traced small streams and larger burns alike I was flooded with memories, remnants, fragments, scars of happiness and pain. Regrets, births, plans and losses.  I’ve walked many of these streams against their flow down the hillsides, both alone and with friends, and many brought a smile to my face as I traced them on the map, like an old friend. 

What can appear in our short lifetimes to be static landscapes are living, evolving eco-systems and exploring attitudes to climate change and it’s effect on our habitat was also part of the project brief, how our unquenchable consumerist thirst ravages the planet by overuse of resources and poisoning our environment, threatening our very existence. Many of our pieces in this exhibition, centre on this theme.  Having spent the last few years focusing on more gentle – and palatable - ways of using art to convey this message, we’re following the example of emerging climate activists with more provocative and urgent conversation within our work.

Energise Event | 27 April, 2019

Energise is a project being run by Upland CIC which gives artists the opportunity to research and creatively explore the subject of climate change in relation to the unique landscape of Dumfries & Galloway. The project aims to connect artists and communities in order to explore perceptions and responses to climate change with specific regard to renewable energy, in an imaginative and positive way.

Join the Energise artists-in-residence for a day-long event that celebrates the history and legacy of the Galloway hydro scheme. Saturday 27th April 2019, (10am – 4.30pm) Catstrand, High Street, New Galloway, DG7 3RN

See: Upland Events for booking information.


About | Leeming + Paterson

A sense of belonging underpins Morag’s photographic work, which varies from the wildly abstract to more literal representations of the natural world. For her, the art of photography is process based, using the camera as a tool to express her engagement with any given location or subject. Working with Ted Leeming under the name Leeming + Paterson, Morag is one half of the collaborative duo known for their landscape photographs and fine art prints that are held in many private collections. Currently Leeming and Paterson are based in the UK as well as Iceland, Italy, the Faroe Islands, Croatia, South America and China. They live between Liguria in Italy and  rural south-west Scotland on their zero footprint small holding.

Ted and Morag have produced a hardcover limited edition book that tells the visual story of the first five years of the Zero Footprint project, with every photo being taken from precisely the same position outside their home in the Galloway Hills. The book retails at £40 and takes the reader through a stunning photographic journey that is both inspiring and thought-provoking.