The Freelands Artist Programme is a five-year-long programme supporting emerging artists across the UK – in partnership with g39, Cardiff, PS², Belfast, Site Gallery, Sheffield and University of Edinburgh, through Talbot Rice Gallery. The programme enhances Talbot Rice’s continued support for early-career artists based in Scotland. Edinburgh College of Art provides studios and facilities for residents.
The resident artists receive financial, curatorial and technical support from the Talbot Rice team, alongside access to workshops, libraries and collections at the University of Edinburgh. The programme also includes national and international research trips and culminates with an exhibition at the Freelands Foundation, London.
Meet me at the threshold welcomes back the first ten participants of the Talbot Rice Residents programme (2018 – 21) with a group exhibition showcasing their latest installations in video, sound, drawing, textiles and sculpture. Several themes have emerged from their recent work here, including personal and ancestral relationships and conversations, as well as the language of communication and how we related to the objects and materials around us.
Enter the main space of the White Gallery to encounter five out of the ten artists anti-clockwise as follows:
Sarah Rose is a Glasgow-based artist, originally from New Zealand. She has a Master’s postgraduate from Glasgow School of Art and was an artist-in-residence at Little Sparta, the Midlothian sculpture garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay. She works with sculpture and sound, examining processes of lifecycles of materials and concepts of translation, communication, abstraction, mutation, and transformation. She recently presented the memorable Open Source (Crocodile) at The Normal exhibition at Talbot Rice Gallery in 2021.
Drifts (2022) features a custom-made ‘serpent’ brass-wind instrument and discarded underwater cable casing to create a historical and symbolic narrative of power and control. Rose questions how nature and human intervention co-exist, overlap and conflict in both the aftermath of empire and the current ecological crisis.
Edinburgh-based artist and graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, Stephanie Mann challenges us to re-think the relationship between humans and objects through time and space. She uses collaborative research to support the philosophical approach to objects and their elemental make-up.
Withdrawn objects (2022) incorporates dust from Paolozzi’s recovered London Underground mosaics (currently in the care of the University of Edinburgh) to infuse into sandstone. With Agate, shale, bust, mosaic (2022), the artist has created a 16mm film transferred to digital, showing her infusing sandstone with a lotion made from the dust. Outwith within (2022 screenprint) uses discarded dust fragments as pigment.
Mona Yoo lives and works between Edinburgh and Seoul. She is a member of the Royal Society of Sculptors and Visual Arts Scotland. Yoo’s works are held in major public collections including Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh. The artist works with found objects, digital drawing and site-specific sculpture to explore urban culture and history.
I am the space where I am (2022) is a curious LED light and single-channel audio installation set within the gallery windows – where outside and inside meet. The light display responds to the audio of a morse code translation of the artist’s voice repeatedly using the title phrase.
Rae-Yen Song, based in Glasgow, explores self-mythologising as a survival tactic, using fantasy and fable. This creates a personal, cultural and visual language of identity informed by ancestral stories, diasporic journeys and shared memories. She works with drawings, sculpture, costume, animation, video, online media and public performance.
Here the artist presents three very large fabric works, a series of drawings and a gnomic sculpture – enigmatic characters which tell the story of ?may-may songuu? (2020). It’s an ethnographic tale of self-mythology detailing the origins of appetite, consumption and greed.
Glasgow-based artist Rosie O’Grady is a postgraduate of Glasgow School of Art. With Untitled Ploumanac’h series (2022) she has turned digital images of rock formations in Brittany back to analogue through the use of photograms on light-sensitive paper. The photograms are created using camera images from her phone, projected onto the paper using the light of her mobile phone screen. The work explores the life cycle of an image, its process of translation and influence. O’Grady was inspired by British Surrealist painter Eileen Agar’s 1926 project which framed these same rock formations comically to emphasise their anthropomorphic quality.
Moving from the main gallery into the smaller exhibition space, you’re compelled to linger at Jenny Hogarth’s latest installation work Flow Co Motion (2022). This work consistently arrests and engages gallery visitors. The Edinburgh-based artist is a graduate of both Edinburgh College of Art and Glasgow School of Art. This multi-channel video work explores her relationship with her son. We get to see life from his perspective as a child with autism. Using body cameras and p-o-v shots, they go to a bookshop, a maze and for a bike ride.
Upstairs at the White Gallery space, is a chance to change pace, take a seat and explore two short video installations with headphones.
Tako Taal is a Glasgow-based artist producing video work that exposes colonial influences on the present day. Departures (2021) has a soundtrack based on a poem written by her late father and recited by her uncles. The poem reflects on absence, loss and distance. Shot on 16mm and transferred to video, the images trace the surface of a naming blanket gifted to her at birth.
Glasgow-based Aideen Doran works with found materials in sound and moving image, to produce multi-layered works that make thoughtful connections between unrelated materials. In this time-travelling 2-channel video installation, Depositions of the Despoiled Subject (2021), Doran combines her own family history, parliamentary records and oral testimony to reflect upon truth, time, historical records and memory. Originating from a chance encounter at the grave of John Furfey, a ten-year-old boy who was murdered by law enforcement in 1879, it interweaves accounts of 1970s housing rent strikes and 17th-century uprisings in the artist’s hometown of Lurgan, Northern Ireland.
Moving to the upstairs mezzanine corridor, Glasgow-based Eothen Stearn fills this space with a multi-work installation piece. It’s the first of an ongoing series that presents interviews with those who lived through the AIDS epidemic in Edinburgh, gathered from her research into the University’s Lothian Health Services Archive. Alongside these first-hand accounts, Stearn has created To hold and be held (2022), a series of screen-prints inspired by materials from the archive. This work examines the stigma and lack of awareness that still impacts queer lives today.
Stearn is a graduate of Goldsmiths University, London and Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. She explores everyday political and personal relations through the lens of feminism and queerness and the intersections between private and public. Her practice incorporates sculpture, performance and sound.
Finally, in the Round Room – once a former storage space offset from the mezzanine gallery space – Sulaïman Majali presents arab reclining by a stream (2022). Majali, a Glasgow-based artist, recently received the Margaret Tait Award 2020/21.
This enigmatic installation takes its title from William Holman Hunt’s 1854 watercolour – represented here as a print amongst a group of placed objects. The Round Room space often lends itself well to exciting and thought-provoking artworks. The artist uses poetic and disruptive strategies to inspire abstract and conceptual responses in the viewer. Majali shines a light on colonialist narratives that can exist in the space of an artwork, challenging the deep conceptual assumptions of a gallery space.
Meet me at the threshold is thoughtfully curated by Stuart Fallon. The group exhibition celebrates the benefits of a residency programme that nurtures early-career artists. All ten artists have established work that is confident, thought-provoking, challenging and contemporary. Be sure to explore the artist biographies of residents past and present on the Talbot Rice website – with access to downloadable artist guides.
With thanks to Julie Boyne for this review.