A 14-metre wide screen across the bridge between Scotland and England, a five-metre gravity-fed fountain, an optical illusion created by 200 trees and a video installation in a setting from iconic film The Wicker Man will be among the works for the inaugural Environmental Art Festival Scotland this August.
A collaboration between artist and filmmaker John Wallace and ecosystem modeller Professor Pete Smith, of the University of Aberdeen, Cinema Sark will take the politically powerful point of the River Sark – which could become the divide between sovereign states after next year’s referendum on independence – as the centre of a video art installation.
Set beneath the rumble of nine lanes of the M74, the Sark has formed a boundary for 460 years. The Cinema uses four films and environmental sensors to consider the identity of the river, from its rise in the peat bogs through Gretna and the Solway Firth.
“Most people barely notice they are on a bridge when the cross the Sark, though they might just register the rattle of the joints,” says Wallace.
“But this is an important place, and is becoming ever more so as the referendum approaches.
“We wanted to look at the physical reality of what the border between Scotland and England really is.”
In the Galloway Forest Park, James Winnett is using a river’s energy to power a foaming fountain, shadowed by a waterfall and asking questions about sustainability.
“It will be a real surprise and quite a spectacle,” expects the Glasgow-based artist, who says the concept will “look quite natural, but clearly can’t be.”
“So much of what we like to think of as wild is actually the result of management.
“I hope it will encourage people to look around and think about what is truly wild and what is the result of hundreds, even thousands of years of human intervention.”
Domestic and international artists have asked to take part in the festival, with the furthest interest arriving from Australia.
Pat Van Boeckel and Karin Van Der Molen, from the Netherlands, plan to partially reroof a kirk ruin made famous when it appeared in The Wicker Man.
“We want to look at the resources society needs,” says Van Boeckel, discussing Gimme Shelter.
“The project will invite visitors to take part in the virtual restoration of this church, even if it takes centuries to grow the oaks that were needed for a new roof.”
Taking full advantage of 200 of the region’s trees, Donald Urquhart and Will Levi Marshall will wrap hand-tinted sky blue bands of paper around oaks, creating the impression that each trunk has had a slice taken out of it.
“The idea is to create a horizontal line which makes it seem like a metre of the forest has disappeared and you can see right through,” says Urquhart, explaining a “plane of disappearance” made with laser sighting equipment.
“We will be making a painting with the woodland – in fact, it may even be Europe’s largest watercolour.
“It involves working with nature to create an effect, but one that does no damage.
“At the end of the festival, the paper is removed and the woodland returns to its original beauty.”
- The Environmental Art Festival runs August 30 – September 2 2013. Read more.