Monday, 7 October 2013


Today, at long last, we were finally able welcome Yuvan Bothisathuvar to Glenfiddich. His has been a long journey indeed. It began auspiciously enough at a glittering award ceremony held at the Oberoi Hotel in Gurgaon last April. Where, from over 500 applications, Yuvan was announced as the bestcollegeart/Glenfiddich Emerging Indian Artist of 2013.

As one of the final five finalists, Yuvan was given the opportunity to display some of his work in the Nature Morte Gurgaon gallery.  Working in a collage of  recycled paper and other materials more than most Yuvan's work benefits from real life viewing.

With the jury of nine meeting first to review the final five in a conference suite in the hotel it was interesting to contrast the reaction to Yuvan's work on a computer screen with that one when they saw the original works hanging the gallery. When viewed from different angles Yuvan's work seems to present itself in new ways. The nature of the materials used provides for a textural almost sculptural quality not fully visible in only two dimensions. 

So with his residency secure it was only a simple matter of booking flights and obtaining a tier 5 creative and sporting visa......

So if there is anyone out there who has been following this blog since the summer they will know the visa was far from being the normal straightforward procedure that has been the experience over the past three years it has been required. Instead it became somewhat of a saga. Which the initial and subsequent applications being rejected. But finally, and on our forth attempt we were able to convince the visa officer in Chennai that by inviting Yuvan to Glenfiddich we were not displacing any settled worker in already in the UK.

And so, just as almost all the other residents away - with the exception of Marie who stays till mid October. Yuvan has arrived!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013



With the hankies barely dry after Yunyao's departure on Friday. They were out again on Monday with Jungho and Agi both making their 'see you laters' to Glenfiddich and Dufftown.
The weekend saw a flurry of packing, weighing cases, unpacking, weighing again, cleaning, cooking and kendo lessons. For Agi it was directly back to Taipei to prepare for her solo show there in mid November. But for Jungho the pressure is a little closer to hand with his solo show opening in Camden's Inverness Street Gallery this coming weekend.

As work on display will feature his residency video 'In the Barley Field' It was fitting that he spent one last contemplative  moment with his old friend Mr Scarecrow before he departed for the big smoke.


Saturday, 28 September 2013


With so much going on over the past week there was no time for blogging, so here are the edited highlights....

Monday: Gallery is stripped out and made ready for hanging of next exhibition. Work to be returned is packaged and boxes measured up for those piece staying to join our collection. By some fluke of sheer good fortune the three plasma screens installed for first exhibition are to be used for the second and can stay in place. This saves a lot of time which in turn can be devoted to the biggest task of the day, The dismantling of Erick's humongous installation - The Black Spirit. It took almost two months to construct but only a couple of hours to take down. While it seemed wrong to be dismantling something that had taken so much time and effort to construct. The back room was required for a new projection work, so unfortunately it had to go. The Black Spirit now waits in storage while we work out the most economic way to ship it back over Mexico. With everything now ready in the gallery it is arranged with Agi and Marie to meet next morning at 10 am to begin installing their work

Tuesday: 10 am arrive at gallery.
10.30 am Marie arrives but with out any discs as they are still being burnt to disc.
11.30. Agi phones to say she has just woken up
11.35 Go for dinner.
12.15 pick up boxes and last two round wooden disc for Agi from ken the joiner in Dufftown
12.45. Marie has got both discs for the two channel video burn so try them out in machine... some problems with screen display width.
1.00 Pick up Yunyao and his work, install in gallery
2.30. Agi arrives  begins to unwrap her work.
2.55. Agi kicks cup of  tea over gallery floor...
2.57. Agi mops gallery floor.

2.30. Worked out display problems of plasmas. Marie has projection work on disc so begin to set up projector in back room.
4.20. Install shelf for Agi's round paintings and books
4.45. Go home.
4.55. Read email from Erick telling me the small bundle of wood we shipped for him to continue work with has been rejected at customs. Options seem to be it can either be destroyed or returned to the UK

Wednesday: Jungho photos finally arrive back from the printing lab. Drop them off at the Still Life framers in Aberlour and collect Marie's collage works. By end of the day (10.30 pm) everything is in place bar Jungho's framed works.

Erick writes to tell me customs have changed their mind and the wood has arrived at his gallery !

Thursday: Opening day. Cut Jungho's hair.

Anna from our global PR agency arrived with Ross of Recite films to capture last interviews with artists. Collected and installed Jungho's photos, cleared last tools and what not from gallery, set up the drinks table, Picked up ice....

There is always that worry on the day that no one will bother coming. And having the opening on a Thursday rather than the normal Friday was adding extra spice to the stress chilli. In the end it was a nice gathering including a car load from the Scottish Sculpture workshop over the hills in Lumsden.

Afterwards we retired to Junghos house where the kitchen was invaded by that crack Chinese/Taiwnese ninja cookery team, The Flying Knives Trio.

Friday: Today was Yunyao's last day. After a quick 'see you later' lunch at Agi's Yunyao's three months were up.

The journey to the airport was, as often is the case, a reflective one. Remembering things that have happened, the places visited, the new friends made, over the past twelve weeks. These memories says Yunyao will now continue influence him as he prepares for his post residency exhibition to be held in Beijing mid November. One bonus photo opportunity for Yunyao was a quick stop off at Harthill Castle to drop off the hired glass ware from the night before.

Saturday, 21 September 2013


D.C. Thomson, the Dundee based publishing company is something of a Scottish institution. Being responsible for a number of well known and loved publications such as the Sunday Post, Peoples Friend, The Jackie magazine and the Beano and Dandy comics.

First published in 1938, the Beano has introduced its readers to many cartoon characters who have gone on to become house names across the UK. Over the years the Beano has been home to Minnie the Minx, the Bash Street Kids, Biffo the Bear and of course Dennis the Menace and his dog Gnasher.

Although her work in the past has been mainly influenced by animated characters from television and film. A visit to the Beanotown exhibition held London's South Bank over the summer to celebrate the comics 75th anniversary resulted in its drawn strip characters  becoming the focus of Agi's residency project. This week, as part of her research, a trip was organised down to the Beano offices in Dundee where Editor in Chief Mike Stirling kindly showed us round, introducing us to the Beano staff and product development team.

Highlight of the trip was the access to D.C. Thomson's extensive archive. Stacked to the rafters, it contains original art work and a copy of every publication printed since the company started up in 1886 - coincidently the same year that William Grant  began building work at the Glenfiddich distillery. Mike's generosity with his time was matched only by that of the archivist Liza who quite calmly allowed myself and Agi, Yunyao and Agi's friend Angel unlimited access to these precious historical documents. I am quite sure if we had asked we might have even been allowed a quick scoot around on the Beano Chopper bike but we were far too polite and other wise occupied to mention it.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


The leaves on the trees haven't yet quite started to turn, but every day the swallows and martins can be seen in increasing numbers lining up on the telephone wires getting ready for the off. The chill of the early morning certainly has a back end of the year feel to it and there is no surer sign that the seasons are on the turn than runs to Aberdeen airport with departing artists.

Yesterday was it Erick's turn for the trip back home which, means exchanging the last three months of Dufftown life for the slightly more hectic pace of Mexico City. This airport run would have usually been taken in the sssssSlug, but in another sign of the time of year it has been steadfastly refusing to start in the mornings, so is off to the garage for a battery health check and MOT. Instead the trip was taken in a very futuristic new hire car that plays a little tune each time you get in. And has a dashboard layout with a more than a passing resemblance to Opitmus Prime. However as yet the button that causes the transformation to take place is still to be found. As is the one to turn the bloody tune off.

Meanwhile for the artists still at Glenfiddich the end of term may be in sight but with the second exhibition opening in just over a week there is still much to be done.
This final exhibition of the 2013 residency will contain works by Agi Chen, Marie Von Heyl, Jungho Oak and Zhang Yunyao. The first exhibition remains open for viewing until this coming Sunday 22nd Sept.                                                                                      

Thursday, 12 September 2013


Although all the visitors to Glenfiddich are special we did have an extra special occasion for one pair who had come all the way from Toronto.

A few months ago and old friend of the residency programme, Jay McDonell, was in touch saying he would be over in September with his girlfriend Sidney. Jay was first here back in 2006 when he travelled with that years Canadian artist in residence Annie Pootoogook. Annie at that time had only limited experience of life away from her community on Baffin island, and so Jay who was working for The Pat Fearly Gallery at the time came over as a sort of human comfort blanket for Annie.

For this visit Jay had asked if I could suggest a local B&B for the couple of nights they would be staying and to book himself and Sidney onto one of our Pioneer tours. Of course I was delighted to help out on both counts and as there was housing on site available we were able to put them up in mains of Balvenie.

The trip had a certain significance as Jay felt after some years of 'courting' the time was right to offer Sidney the opportunity to make a honest man of him. And so Jay had one extra request, did I think it possible he could 'pop' the question up at Balvenie Castle? I felt it was and a quick chat with the custodians confirmed that indeed it was.

There is always an element of bravery in making such a public declaration but I am happy to say that it was an offer Sidney could not refuse and so all that is left is to raise a glass to the happy couple

To Jay and Sidney

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


Late summer sunshine has greeted our special guests from Mexico who have spent a whirlwind couple of days here at Glenfiddich. Comprising of arts, culture, fashion lifestyle and travel editors the group were treated to tours of both the Glenfiddich and Balvenie Distilleries as well as spending some time with Erick.

Erick was able to give an insight to the processes behind his residency research project. Entitled 'The Black Spirit' it examines relationships between industrialisation and natural landscape. The project has so far resulted in two new works, 'Valley of the Deer' - as pictured behind Erick above - and 'Cancer', a ominous towering installation sited in a darkened room just off the main gallery.

Meanwhile back in the sunshine, Jungho was making hay, well straw to be exact. Today was harvest day for the barley field where Mr Scarecrow has stood since mid July. With his head now severely bashed from the Kendo blessings bestowed by Jungho each morning. His job is now done.

On standby since early light this morning Jungho was finally able to captured the last act for his work as the crop was combined and the scarecrow relieved from its duty.