Three creative research practice PhD students made new works to engage the public with RSPB Scotland’s sites and work.

Three creative research practice PhD students made new works to engage the public with RSPB Scotland’s sites and work.

Issued: Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:41:00 BST

Composer and artist Luca Nasciuiti from the University of Aberdeen, filmpoet Roseanne Watt from the University of Stirling and visual artist Catherine Weir from the Glasgow School of Art completed artist-in-residency placements with RSPB Scotland.  SGSAH had identified the opportunity as part of the launch of its pilot national doctoral internship programme. A ‘Meet the Host’ event enabled potential interns and artists to meet host organisations informally and to discuss potential collaborations. The initial brief from RSPB was kept deliberately open to encourage a range of artists to apply, and the three successful artists worked closely with RSPB to formulate their projects.

Catherine and Roseanne spent six weeks in spring 2016 living at the RSPB Scotland reserve at Mersehead, Dumfries & Galloway.  They were registered as volunteers whilst they were onsite, and participated in activities including surveys of nesting lapwings, barnacle geese and natterjack toad.  Catherine’s original photographs took up 2,591.89 gigabytes: roughly the equivalent of eighty-two rolls of film!  Roseanne made a series of filmpoems as well as a film portrait of Mersehead farmer Eric Neilson, who has worked on the farm at the Reserve for over fifty years. Catherine and Roseanne collaborated with RSPB Scotland to launch their work at a ‘goose walk’ held at sunset on the Reserve in October 2016. 

Luca took monthly field recordings at the Inversnaid Reserve on the banks of Loch Lomond and contrasted these with recordings taken in from central Glasgow to create Domestic.Green., a sound and light installation which showed at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and at Inversnaid in September 2016. Luca also conducted sound walks for the public in Kelvingrove Park as part of the event. 

RSPB Scotland staff were delighted by the success of the residencies and associated events.  The experience with AHRC-funded students was so positive that the students and managers were invited to a national staff meeting to demonstrate how well the projects had worked for the reserves.  RSPB Scotland is extending from this pilot to host other artists through SGSAH’s programme and is considering including funding for doctoral artists as part of future funding bids.