Reflecting Glenfiddich, Fleming Collection, London
Friday 18 February 2011
The Scottish distiller Glenfiddich has been hosting an artists-in-residence programme since 2002. The artists have come from far and wide. Having turned up with an open mind at the distillery in the Highlands, they get to stay in a cottage on the estate for three months, and there they muse upon the nature of the place, its industry, its history, and make work – photographs, animations, sculpture, paintings, video installations. This exhibition is a selection of works from those residencies.
So do we have works here that explore the identity, landscape and even the myths of Scotland? Yes, but very obliquely. Damian Moppett from Canada has created his very own up-to-date version of some Monarch of the Glen. Mounted like a trophy head on the back wall of the ground-floor gallery, it's a knobbly-headed, ill-featured beast called The Brollachan, fashioned out of plaster, globby lumps of foam and fencing wire, and topped by a fine spray of antlers. Its vocabulary is limited to just two incomprehensible words. Many of the artists have been most interested in the materials of the place. The US artist Michael Sanzone has been delving among the old barrels in the cooperage, and from scavenged and shaped blocks of old wood of different colours and textures, he has created an abstract rectangular wooden construction called Wood Construction 6: William Grant 496. One of the most surprising works, an enormous oil painting that dominates the lower gallery, was made by a Chinese artist called Qi Xing. Ravished by the legend of a 17th-century Scottish Robin Hood called James Macpherson, he has painted a portrait of the man in full Highland regalia, sprawled full length against a mighty oak, as he serenades a dreamily docile white stag. This is sweetly melancholy faux-Romanticism in full flight, and all the more interesting and amusing for having been created by a young artist who was born in Tangshan in 1982.
One of the most enjoyable works is from a young Swede called Jan Cardell, who has made something of a name for himself as a creator of kinetic sculptures that make music. Grass Orchestra is fashioned from clusters of slender copper rods, tipped with what look like arrow heads, which rise up in shivery clumps like stands of bulrushes – or, to invoke a tad of Scottishness here, clumps of thistles. Activate a floor pedal and they begin to rub against each other, rustling and thrumming together, rhythmically, a little like the distant sound of pipes and drums. Cardell had been listening to production noises in the distillery's industrial workshops.
The most sombre piece, by Dave Dyment from Canada, is downstairs, and it takes the form of a hinged brown wooden box that stands open to reveal the deep impress of a whisky bottle. It looks so much like a coffin containing the impress of an absent body that it almost takes your breath away. The piece is a reflection upon the fact that the finest of whiskies, such is the long process of maturation, at the moment of that first delicious tipple, will always have been made by the dead.
To 26 February (020 7042 5730)
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Fearne Cotton quits Radio 1 after ten years for 'family and new adventures'
Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank: TV show generates $3.1bn in repeat fees since final episode
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
From Assassin's Creed to World of Warcraft: Videogames are making a new assault on Hollywood
Justin Kelly interview: On James Franco playing a gay man who renounces his homosexuality
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East