The Mount Stuart Trust has, for some time, run an innovative and far from conservative annual visual arts programme, offering a variety of surprising experiences free to all comers.
The creatives chosen, from artists and sculptors to musicians and video makers, have offered no compromise to the safe and the middle of the road. They’ve been out there – defying expectations, forcing people to harrumphh and walk off or to stay and square up to the experience, wrestling to make their own individual sense of it.
Artists are often the worst possible advocates for their own profession, for the worlds they create and for what lies behind the doors they unlock for adventure.
Not to put too fine a point on it, some artists can describe their own work in the sort of terms that would fill an encyclopaedia of Pseuds Corners; and that stop down at source any urge to try to connect with them.
Anything presented in circumstances that enforce a hushed reverence has to be suspect. The genuinely compelling can be left to form its own relationship with its audience – or not. It might be stillness, a yell of delight, a belly laugh, a shrug.
The Mount Stuart programme for October is typically eclectic – a lively lucky dip.
Sunday 14th October opens the series with what – given how long it takes to pull these things together – is a coincidentally funny response to the Land Action Scotland campaign’s recent targeting of the Mount Stuart Trust as a subject for potential community control.
Artist Lucy Skaer will be talking in Mount Stuart house on that day, between 15.00 and 16.00, about a nine minute 16mm film that will be shown with her talk.
It is a collaborative work between Skaer and the late dancer and choreographer Gill Clarke, made in 2011 on St Kilda and in Mount Stuart, commissioned by the experimental Siobhan Davies Dance and part of Mount Stuart’s current exhibition ‘SANCTUARY|COMRAICH’.
It’s title? ‘A Dance of Ownership, A Song in Hand.’
Sunday 28th October sees a special screening of a film by artist and director Nina Danino, the 77 minute 1998 Temenos [a sacred or ritual place], which explores the phenomenon of visionary experiences, in this case places where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared - Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje. Given the date of the film, it seems surprising that it paid no attention to the then relatively recent period in Ireland when so many of its statues of the Virgin Mary seemed either to be weeping or to be perpetually on the move.
Temenos is screened in the Audio Visual Theatre at the Mount Stuart Visitor Centre between 15.00 and 16.30.
Tuesday 30th October is back in the Audio Visual Theatre from 14.00 t0 16.00 for an afternoon with performer and producer, Ian Bourn and James Mackay.
This will cover screening three short films and finishing with a viewing of a film installation piece, Penminsula, commissioned from Ian Bourn for Mount Stuart.
The three films are:
- The end of the world – a 7 minute film from 1982, in which ‘the heaven and hell of suburban domesticity is put in the spotlight in this tape involving a video game, a cup of tea and a Sunday afternoon’.
- Sick as a dog – a 20 minute film from 1989 centred on tips on gambling at greyhound races, with a tragic-comedy of a man trying to cheat his way through life.
- Black, white and green – the way of pie – a 7 minute piece from 2003, set in a traditional eel and pie house with solitary diners pondering their steaming dinners, each glimpsing a personal landscape within the food on the plate.
Mount Stuart Trust says it offers its annual visual arts programme to raise interest in the visual arts of our time and to bring exhibitions of international standing to Bute and Argyll.
Using the context of Bute and of Mount Stuart for these exhibitions and related events creates opportunities for public artwork and works to attract wider audiences to the island for the new perspectives the programme offers.