Adjust/Adapt - Curators Review- VAS Members Spotlight - Visual Arts Scotland

Adjust/Adapt - Curators Review- VAS Members Spotlight

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Mar 29th 2021


27 March 2021 - 24 April 2021

In partnership with the Scottish Furniture Makers Association

We are delighted to share our new digital exhibition Adjust / Adapt, featured as five individual “still life” compositions, captured by the exceptional Gabriela Silviera with additional walk round films made by Easy Days Creatives on site at Leith Theatre set to the melodic tones of new VAS Member Kim Moore. This exhibition is created by Scottish Furniture Makers Association in partnership with Visual Arts Scotland, this major new members exhibition, presented as part of the 2021 City Art Centre programme, celebrating the transformative power of creativity and craft to transcend challenging times. 

Adjust/Adapt features 14 VAS members, in a cross disciplinary display of practices, from glass work, to ceramics, weaving, to amalgamated wooden works from historical forms, this range of creatives featured from our 800 strong membership is a dynamic snapshot of contemporary craft, making and artistry.

With artists grouped in compositions, with over 20 SFMA members, Spring to Spring, reflecting the temporal marking of a tumultuous year, this partnership with SFMA seeks to celebrate the ingenuity and spirit of how we have responded to the changing and challenging modes of life, reflected in how we have modified and enhanced our domestic interiors in light of the pandemic.

Without further ado, below we spotlight our members' work this review composed by VAS Curator of this show, VAS President, artist and programmer Sarah Calmus.  All images below captured by the wonderful Maxime Ragni on location at Leith Theatre.

New VAS member Juli Bolaños-Durman's work, POWERFUL ORDINARY BONDS, is a great example of the resourceful and tranformative spirit that exemplifies the theme of this exhibition. With her focus on play and openness to responding to found objects, her work repurposes discarded objects in a way that reveals new and wondrous universes of previously untold stories. Working across Edinburgh and Costa Rica over the past challenging year, Juli’s wider practice continues to inspire, as she responds to the need to connect through creative play. 


With much the same line, long term VAS member and previous VAS Council Member Roland Fraser, whose work is represented by Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh, has perfected the art of collecting artefacts from abandonment and gathering them collaged together to show in their newly formed composition, bringing fresh enquiry and emphasis to an otherwise forgotten object. Here Marshalling Yard asks us to lean in with the eye and the ear, to see if we can capture any hints of the stories of times past. 


As we move around the exhibition the cheerful colours of Juli's work is reflected in the hanging perspex disks of Rhona Taylor's Vanishing Points. Caught moving gently with the wind in the walk round film of Composition IV, these three disks speak to the architectural, with their overlapping geometric lines playing with the conversation of dimensions in space, responding well to the backdrop of the archway of the colonnade they hang in. 


A combination of the geometric and sustainable making comes in the form of YB22 by collaborative design duo Yellow Broom. Their practice prioritises sustainable modes of working, through a focus on a zero waste approach by recycling, reusing and repurposing materials. With a minimalist motif running throughout their work, their dedication to environmental making is at the heart of their work. We absolutely love their YB22 lights that sit comfortably in Composition V in this show.


The geometric flair of YB22, takes us neatly to note another artist whose work responds to the natural environment. Amanda Baron’s glass work, Laig Bay, with its strikingly simple triangular shard formation has a large presence in pleasing opposition to its compact size. The unique complexity that is contained within each shimmering shard, requires closer inspection, as they glint, almost like mica and precious minerals caught within the clasps of nature and hints towards watery depths.


In the same Composition IV as Laig Bay, Jonathan Rose & Jennie McCall’s collaboratively created Aurora Light sits tucked into the embrace of a cabinet. A prototype created over a digital relationship and collaborative spirit, both Jonathan and Jennie have continued to push their practices, at a time when there have been many restrictions and challenges to creating. Made over lockdown, Aurora Light speaks to possibilties of new horizons and modes of working as we continue to work within current restrictions and feel the impact of this in our daily lives.


With the eye drawn to the macro, as seen in Easy Days video edits of the show, Felicity Bristow’s Hand Bound Journals are brought into the spotlight, where each book is wonderfully bound with an impressive attention to detail. So cheerfully colourful, they beg to be opened, held and cherished. 


The colour pop of Felicity's books bring us to compliment Rowan Paton’s powerful work, Melting Rainbow. Here we see a close up of the piece. Well known for her adept layering techniques and strong colour palettes, Rowan's work takes on new meaning in these times, as the rainbow became the hopeful symbol, emblematic of the courage and appreciation the public holds for the NHS as it battles against privatisation and simultaneously holds us in its care, protecting us against the virus.  A poignant piece for these times.


And this poignancy of the pandemic is so present in 2020 ECA Graduate Molly Kent’s piece, Doubt Plagues Me, from the series Doubt in the Digital Age where Molly responds to the heightened processing of how social media is used, consumed and affects us and our mental health, now in the pandemic era, more than ever. The contrast in high energy colour and the message of this piece, create a powerful dialogue with the viewer, who instantly begins to question the relationship of these words within their own hearts.


The breadth of contemporary tapestry in our show brings established textile artist Fiona Rutherford’s work into fascinating contrast to the emerging work of Molly Kent’s, where we see abstract mark-making expertly woven on a hugely impressive scaled piece ‘Find the Ways’  that hangs wonderfully in Composition III.   Fiona’s work commands a respect that is reflected in the company of collections where you can find her work. Her woven tapestries hang in public collections including the V& A in London, Arts Council England and Elegan Kobe, Japan and no wonder as they are fantastically executed pieces.


This working in weaving is not solely highlighted in Adjust/Adapt with woven textiles however. Here we have new VAS member Anna Liebmann’s almost sculptural willow works. From harvesting willow, to building, to exhibiting, Anna’s commitment to weaving is embedded in the fine finish her works possess. This practice seems so much more a vocation that requires a vast skill set, knowledge, empathy and dedication toward the natural material; guided by the seasons. Nut Basket is featured in Composition V and seen here photographed in an ensemble shot by Maxime Ragni.


We can see the same approach to bringing nature front and centre in Edinburgh Ceramics Workshop technician and ceramicist Julija Pustovrh’s work SANDSCAPE. Incorporating sand from local beaches into her works, the delicious textures and formations remind us of our treasured tranquil moments found in the solace of nature. A joy particulalry relished in a year when our freedoms have been reduced in so many other ways.


Similar territory of the influence of land and nature is found in the stunning work of Katie Rose Johnston/ M A N I F E S T O, who captures a raw elegance in each form. Elk Candelabra,  Ikebana Pond and Raw Vase are imbued with a deep sense of place. Indeed inspiration for Katie is often in response to her birthplace Shetland and one can feel a tangible quality of depth and meaning when viewing and handling these textural forms. 


In contrast to the natural colourscape of M A N I F E S T O, Mella Shaw’s Rare Earth stands out in its unusual amalgamation of geometric and natural forms. It is a pleasing puzzle that the eye wants to constantly linger upon. With a sense of precarity imbued in the balancing of the formations of elements, the structurally complex sculptures contain a delicate precision that Mella is well known for. The Rare Earth  series is currently in development with funding from the Henry Rothschild Memorial Ceramics Bursary and we can't wait to see how they develop.


Echoing the precision of Mella Shaw’s work, Lou Davis’s Beyond hangs quietly yet confidently in its own execution. The only framed piece in the show, its geometric delicacy glows under closer inspection. It works so well within Composition I, a pleasing symmetry with Kirsty MacDonald's Lunar Horizon Desk, places the piece in its natural environment; the heart of the home. 


View the exhibition online here:

All images above credited to: Maxime Ragni/K.I.S.S Photography