Sensory surprises along Dunbar’s John Muir Way

Dalziel + Scullion,  John Muir Artists in Residence 2018, with their project, entitled Homing.
Dalziel + Scullion, John Muir Artists in Residence 2018, with their project, entitled Homing.

Matthew Dalziel and Louise Scullion, artists known as Dalziel + Scullion who have recently been announced as the John Muir Artists in Residence 2018, are to call their next project Homing.

This summer, the two Scottish artists will create a series of new artworks along East Lothian’s most iconic path, ending with an exhibition in Dunbar.

The project will aim to help East Lothian residents reconnect with art and nature by working with a number of local specialists and experts as they walk and investigate the John Muir Way from Dunbar to Musselburgh.

The pair will consult geologists, botanists, countryside rangers and others along the way in an effort to ‘better understand the context for their work’.

A number of carefully-chosen sites have been identified where visitors can interact with its geology, plants, insects or other lifeforms with the aid of a series of helpful instructions that will invite contemplation, curiosity and interaction.

Local people also kindly volunteered to be their models for three days on various photo shoots in the landscape.

The artists are creating a new book called ‘Homing’, which they describe as ‘a field guide for reconnecting with nature’. It contains suggestions and instructions of ways to be in, and indeed feel ourselves a part of, nature.

The renowned artists, who some years ago created The Horn, a 79ft stainless steel sculpture visible from the M8, work with photography, video, sound and sculpture to explore new ways to engage with the environment and ecology of the area.

“They were chosen for the John Muir residency after Matthew worked with us at North Light Arts,” says Susie Goodwin, North Light Arts creative director.

She added: “It is really exciting to be working with him again after he gave a brilliant presentation at the Fertile Ground Conference, in 2014, and we are sure Matthew and Louise will show their sensitivity to place, and the nature of the John Muir Way. This will, I’m sure, further the ecological aims of North Light Arts and help reconnect people to the nature of the landscapes right on their doorsteps.”

The artists said: “We constantly strive to understand the context and the place in which our artworks will exist, investigating ways that art can focus attention on and amplify particular aspects of the ecology of a place; it’s authentic features and unique character.

“Through this we cultivate qualities that may have lain dormant, three dimensionalising ideas into forms that inject a new value and alternative recognition of a place.

“The artworks become conduits between people and nature, helping audiences experience our shared environment from alternative perspectives, with the aim of re-establishing connection with nature and the non-human species we live alongside.”

The artists are working within the landscapes of East Lothian along the John Muir Way before opening an exhibition at the Dunbar Town House Gallery. The resulting sensory images will be displayed in large scale photography on Saturday, May 19, between 2pm and 4pm.

The exhibition is open throughout May and June culminating in a talk by Dalziel + Scullion and the release of an associated publication on Saturday, June 23, 2pm and 4pm. For more information, log on to www.northlightarts.org.uk.