In his poem Travel, 19th century novelist and poet Robert Louis Stevenson’s yearning for travelling to distant lands evoked this vivid picture: “I should like to rise and go/ Where the golden apples grow; Where below another sky/ Parrot islands anchored lie/ And, watched by cockatoos and goats, Lonely Crusoes building boats…” The travels consequently resulted in some of the most memorable works by the Scotsman. Taking off from the idea that travelling fuels creativity, the first edition of an international collaborative programme in five studios across Scotland befittingly borrows the phrase from his poem, “Below Another Sky” as its title.
Developed by the Scottish Print Network, the programme brings together 10 Scottish and 10 Commonwealth artists to travel and work through a residency. With the help of five leading printmaking studios of Scotland, around 70 limited edition prints are being showcased in the respective studio galleries till August 15. The participating Indian artists are Sarnath Banerjee, Rohini Devasher and Amol Patil.
“Scotland has one of the highest proportions of printmaking studios than any other country,” says Scotland-based Alexia Holt, 44, the curator of “Below Another Sky”, adding, “The idea was to make connections with artists from Commonwealth countries. We’ve had historical connections with countries like India and Pakistan.”
The residency began in 2013 and each artist, within a span of about a month each, travelled to different locations. While artists from Scotland travelled to countries such as Antigua, Malawi, India, Bangladesh and New Zealand, others were on residency in different locations in Scotland, such as Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Inverness.
The five printmaking studios — Dundee Contemporary Arts, Edinburgh Printmakers, Glasgow Print Studio, Highland Print Studio in Inverness and Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen — play host to artists who belong to printmaking as well as those who engage with other mediums. Graphic novelist Banerjee, for instance, known for his stylised graphic format, finished his residency last month and has experimented with lithography and screen-printing. “He has created four screen prints titled Highland Casual that explores the not-so-obvious stories from Inverness, such as a mythical bird that attacks people of the highlands,” says Holt.
He will exhibit at Glasgow Print Studio between August 12 and August 17. At the same time, Devasher, known mostly for her work featuring drawings, prints and films, studied printmaking from the Winchester School of Art. The Delhi-based artist’s photo etchings explore astronomical observatories across India that explore “strange terrains where myth and fiction blur the boundaries of what is real and imagined.” Another, Scottish artist David Shrigley, after his residency in New Zealand, developed his own ‘hand cut’ font. The latest to join the residency two weeks ago is Mumbai-based Patil, who is keeping in mind the recently-concluded Commonwealth Games and working with silk-screen printing.
The programme will feature a final exhibition in the Aberdeen Art Gallery in Scotland on October 11, which will run through January 25, 2015, when it will conclude. The works, which are also available for sale internationally at respective print studios, are also looking forward to travelling to other countries, including India. “Nothing has been confirmed yet but we’re in talks with the various British Councils,” says Holt. “These editions are a wonderful opportunity to acquire original artwork by leading national and international artists, as well as to support the vital work of the print studios themselves,” she adds.
The works can be viewed at http://www.belowanothersky.org.