Shetland artist explores human impact on land in new exhibition

A Shetland artist has explored the impact of humans on the land in her first solo show at Aberdeen’s Newave Gallery.

Vivian Ross Smith Erosions‘Erosions’ by Vivian Ross-Smith, who graduated from Gray’s School of Art in 2013, will run at the gallery in the city’s Castlegate until October 6 and features a range of works exploring sustainability and issues around climate change.

Manipulating materials such as wood, metal, crystal and concrete she compares the natural environment with human existence. Decaying materials sit alongside clean lines to add stark contrast and ask the viewer to consider humankinds modern relationship with the land.

Vivian said: “Having a solo show at Newave Gallery has been a fantastic opportunity. The gallery is a beautiful space filled with natural light – I really love it.

Quote marks“I have wanted to make this body of work for a while now but needed the perfect place to exhibit it and Newave Gallery is definitely that. I think Aberdeen, being an oil city, is an interesting place to raise questions on renewable energy and natural landscapes, so all in all it has been great.

Talking about her work, Vivian explained: “It addresses several issues including art, geology and renewable energy. I wanted to consider sustainability and human impact on the land – as the results of climate change become apparent, I have been exploring how these issues are being addressed, glorified or even ignored.”

“Aberdeen will always be somewhere special to me, as I absolutely loved my time there at Gray’s School of Art.”

She believes that growing up on Fair Isle has made her very aware of the impact humans can have on the landscape.

“My work is very connected with island life and specifically Fair Isle,” she said. “I think it has given me a deep respect for my natural surroundings and really makes me look at how the land is layered and formed. When growing up on Fair Isle I can remember when they first put up the windmills on the island, they appeared so huge and I was quite intrigued by them as well as being very aware of their function.

“On Fair Isle there is still no 24 hour electricity so as a young child, I learned quickly that if the windmills were turning, the lights stay on – magic!”

Vivian Ross Smith Erosions 2She added: “Issues surrounding renewable energy are very apparent in Shetland at the moment, especially around wind turbines as a project is currently underway to build 103 new turbines in the centre of Shetland’s mainland. I have been watching people’s reactions with great interest as this project has provoked a lot of very strong reactions, both for and against.

“I am very much in favour of renewable energy but think other options are just as viable and would like to see a focus more on tidal energy as well as wind. As you can see in the work at Newave Gallery there is some strong imagery in the form of the turbine. Some people have a real problem with their size and how they protrude from the landscape but I find them very interesting forms.

Quote marks“I have been quite intrigued with how some people are so firmly against any change to the landscape, whilst others truly believe that putting up a few windmills will rectify years of humans destroying our atmosphere.”

‘Erosions’ will run at Newave Gallery, 49 Castle Street, until October 8. The gallery is open Monday to Saturday, 11am to 6pm.

See more of Vivian’s work on her blog

Release by
Jenny Rush

Communications Officer | Design and Technology

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