Springs Eternal: Glenfiddich Artists in Residence - 12 Years from Taiwan
Springs Eternal: Glenfiddich Artists in Residence - 12 Years from Taiwan
Date: 23 December 2016 - 12 February 2017
Opening Reception: 5:00pm Fri., 23 December 2016
Special Event: 6:00pm Sat., 07 January 2017
Site: 1F, Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts
Curator: Andy Fairgrieve
Artists: Chen Hui-Chiao, Wu Chi -Tsung, Yao Jui-Chung, Yuan Goang-Ming, Wang Jun-Jieh, Chen Shiau-Peng, Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu, Wu Tung-Lung, Agi Chen, Joyce Ho, Chang Huei-Ming, Lin Kun-Ying
Organizer: Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts | Coordinated: IT PARK | Sponsor: Glenfiddich
We have all been regaled by the multitudinous sounds water can make. Indeed, its ability to move people, its cleanness, coolness, viscosity, whether bitter cold or scalding hot, means that every mouthful imbibed contains untold possibilities. From the moment we learn to talk as young children, our thirst is quenched from multiple sources and language is replete with water-related alliterations.
All life traces its origins back to water and as a repository for various images it has inspired boundless human reverie and imbued poetry with real world energy. Water is also one of the most important ingredients in the production of whisky. For Celts, it is fundamental and the center of spiritual life, as well as a source of purification, curative remedies and rebirth - particularly spring water. In order to obtain the purest water and produce the best quality whisky possible, William Grant, the founder of Glenfiddich, bought the 1200 acres around the distillery to ensure the Robbie Dhu spring was not polluted. As a result, it remains the only farm in the highlands of Scotland that grows barley and has its own source of water. In addition, the distillery also makes its own oak casks and copper distillers.
In 2005, Chen Hui-Chiao was the first artist from Taiwan to be invited to take part in the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence program. Her time living and creating art in Dufftown, Scotland, marked the beginning of what has been a decade long cultural exchange between the town and Taiwanese artists. Since then, every summer one local artist has been recommended by IT Park Gallery to spend three months in Dufftown. This experience has allowed them to better understand the traditional production of whisky, local environment, history and value of the Glenfiddich brand, elements that have all been transformed into integral parts of art works. Each artist has also in his or her own inimical way established a close relationship with curator Andy Fairgrieve. With the support of fifth generation head of Glenfiddich Peter Gordon, the Glenfiddich distillery in Scotland, IT Park Gallery, and William Grant & Sons (Taiwan) Co. Ltd, Taiwan has become a key player in the Glenfiddich Artist in Residence program.
This year marks the twelfth year Taiwan has participated in the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence program. 12 is also the number of years it takes for Jupiter, an astrological symbol for faith and wisdom, good fortune and growth, to complete one orbital cycle. More significantly, it is also the minimum number of years it takes for whisky to reach peak maturity. Over the past 12 years the Glenfiddich artist’s village has been home to such Taiwanese artists as Chen Hui-Chiao, Wu Chi-Tsung, Yao Jui-Chung, Yuan Goang-Ming, Wang Jun-Jieh, Chen Shiau-Peng, Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu, Wu Tung-Lung, Agi Chen, Joyce Ho, Chang Huei-Ming and recently returned Lin Kun-Ying. These creative talents are now brought together for the first time in an exhibition at Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, titled Springs Eternal: Glenfiddich Artists in Residence - 12 Years from Taiwan.
The twelfth Taiwanese artist to take up a position at the artist’s village, Lin Kun-Ying, produced many new works in Scotland that measure increments of time. This year, Andy Fairgrieve even took him to Clootie Wells, a place of pilgrimage in Celtic areas where people tie pieces of cloth to the branches of the trees and drink from the spring water, which it is said to have healing powers. This ritual is closely related to the idea of sacrifice or praying and in the hearts and minds of the Celts such springs are sacred places. The inspiration for the name of the Springs Eternal exhibition is also taken from a quote by renowned 18th Century English poet Alexander Pope:
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blest:
—Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man
Andy Fairgrieve believes such boundless fountainheads grant everlasting strength and our exhibition seeks to showcase this water of life imbued with time and history, together with the creative work and life experience of the 12 Taiwanese artists who spent 90 days at the artist’s village in Dufftown. Each mouthful of whisky is in part made up of water molecules and it is the cyclical journey of water that highlights an altogether different type of artistic creativity.
2005 Artist in Residence: Chen Hui-Chiao
The work In the End is the Beginning is derived from the saying embroidered by Mary Queen of Scots on her cloth of estate when imprisoned by the English. “In my end is my beginning.” Mary was held under house arrest for 18 years and eventually beheaded after been accused of trying to usurp the crown. Prior to her execution she declared herself to be a martyr for Catholicism. In the alchemic practices of Europe in the Middle Ages the salamander represented the element of fire and with its lizard-like form was believed to rise from the ashes reborn like the phoenix. In this work, I use “bubbles of perception” to symbolize the driving force of eternity and the way in which embracing the ability to overcome earthly desire Mary Stuart was remained true to her beliefs and made the ultimate sacrifice. However, in the scales of death we are all the same, regardless of whether we are romantics or realists.
2006 Artist in Residence: Wu Chi-Tsung
Perspective was first shown at the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence group exhibition A Heartbeat of Time in 2008. With this piece I used post-production work to distort the perspective of 2D images, transforming ordinary images from everyday life into a bizarre and twisted space. As a result, visitors experience an imaginary point of view floating above real space fabricated with the help of digital tools. Crystal City 007 was created in 2015. The arc movement of the light source transforms the plastic boxes on the wall into a profound and uncertain image space, intimating at an invisible spiritual world hidden behind material reality and made up of Internet. Although these two works address similar subject matter, they were produced seven years apart and as such present an intriguing contrast in style and focus.
2007 Artist in Residence: Yao Jui-Chung
In 2007, before I set off to be an artist in residence in the highlands of Scotland I was blithely unaware that the experience would mark an important turning point in my life. At the time I had reached something of a roadblock in terms of artistic creativity, I was emotionally up and down and often felt tormented by stress. When I look back at that time I now realize that it was going back to the embrace of nature that helped to shed light on the dark corners of my soul. Indeed, picking up a paint brush in that environment reignited in me the desire to rebel against orthodoxy. It was only by walking in the highland forests and strolling through mountain fields that I came to realize the long road of life is like being in a long distance run, once you set out there is no going back and so rather than dragging oneself on and existing in a state of self pity, it is always best to stride forward head held high and focus on producing the best work possible.
2008 Artist in Residence: Yuan Goang-Ming
In the 2007 solo exhibition Disappearing Landscape I attempted to shift creative direction in favor of recording “daily moments” from my home life, environment and nature. It was only after arriving at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown in the summer of 2008 that I came to fully understand the length of time it takes to produce each mouthful of whisky and the deep meaning contained therein. The work routine of the distillery was very ordinary, the surrounding environment nature-in-the-extreme and program curator Andy Fairgrieve, who had a punk look and was a professional drummer, appeared to be the one key character who had somehow wrestled free from the stability of the framework around us. The people, events and objects that made up my days naturally led me to reflect on the way I had focused on “daily things,” “growth and decline” in my last solo exhibition.
2009 Artist in Residence: Wang Jun-Jieh
Project Rrose is a series of works produced from 2009-2015 and Real Flux was the first part of the series. It was also a direct result of my participation in the Glenfiddich Artists Village program. This work also took as its blueprint Étant donnés: 1. la chute d’eau, 2. le gas d’éclairage(Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas, 1946-66), the final installation work created secretly over a 20 year period by French artist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968). It was through images of nature in the Scottish highlands and the world renowned whisky distillery that I sought to express the basic desire that exists in all of us - a spying eye or liberation that flows like liquid. When it comes to art pronounced dead by Duchamp what is left? It is nothing more than: real life, love and death.
2010 Artist in Residence: Chen Shiau-Peng
Mapping Glenfiddich III: My Studio depicts various maps related in some way to the distillery and on that basis the work showcases my journeys in a foreign land, with the picture of my studio recording my own path of self discovery. Mapping Glenfiddich V: Something You Need for Finding Your Spirit shows the eight elements needed to make whisky. These not only detail the process of creation, they also allude to a one time spiritual journey. My Glenfiddich: Five Ws and One H details when I was a resident artist in the artists village, the places I visited, other people related to my time in the artists village, the works I created and my impressions of the whole resident artist experience.
2011 Artist in Residence: Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu
Please Blow Me Away to a Deserted Sky is a work I created with a discarded fan from the distillery gallery and eleven 30-second videos of Dufftown. The work was structured by projecting images onto the customized blade of the fan, creating reflected light similar to a rainbow and shadows of the fan moving. Combining these elements with the natural landscape of Dufftown somehow revealed my inner and outer self. I very much hope that local visitors felt what I, as a foreign artist, strived to convey through my work, namely the conflict between the natural landscape and life in Dufftown. This work creates a microscopic overlapping scene that is akin to sleepwalking through the use of scenery, photographs, mirror images, cutout drawings, installation, light and shadow, showcasing the artist residency experience in memories and illusions.
2012 Artist in Residence: Wu Tung-Lung
While an artist in residence at Glenfiddich I spent a lot of time alone or exploring. The quiet environment allowed me to observe in great detail my relationship to the wider world, while also magnifying my awareness of and ability to differentiate even the smallest changes. For example, I felt the moisture and dry coldness of the air; the soft and hard earth beneath my feet; the smell of wood after it rained mixed with the fragrance of fermented barley and the unique sweet smell of dry dirt and withered grass. Certain elements in Dufftown gave me an inner strength; the distillery, streets, surrounding hills, pathways, animals, rivers, sky and the old train, made me feel as though I was in paradise, somewhere I could be my true self. The combination of light and shade, near and far, the cold tones and minimalism revealed layer after layer of scenery and lingering charm around me.
2013 Artist in Residence: Agi Chen
During my residency at Glenfiddich Distillery in the summer of 2013, I often bought a copy of the weekly comic The Beano, published for 75 years, from the local supermarket, as a reference point for my art work. When Andy Fairgrieve saw this, he took me to Dundee to visit D.C Thomson, the publishers of the comic. As I browsed through nearly a century of archives at the company I realized that such a complete record was actually living history. It was then that I started collecting antique copies of The Beano, with the objective of discovering some of the comic’s classic characters since 1938. Through an abstract colorful concentric circle portrait I showcased a chronicle of color evolution, a time-transcending collective memory that exists between readers from different eras.
2014 Artist in Residence: Joyce Ho
During my time at the Glenfiddich Distillery the artists lived and worked in independent small cottages, with the distillery and mountain forests as far as the eye could see once we stepped outside. This sense of space was about as different to Taipei as imaginable and while there my understanding of familiar indoor/outdoor space changed. Indeed, the unique spatial atmosphere even altered my sensitivity to the flow of time. This change in the framework of time also caused a transformation in the way I viewed life rituals. Therefore, in addition to the series of paintings drawn on cask end wood, I also used the extended video piece in this exhibition in an effort to capture the sense of time and space displacement I felt at that time.
2015 Artist in Residence: Chang Huei-Ming
When I was in Scotland I often found dead things at the side of the road, from insects to birds, wild hares even deer. That experience alerted me to the interdependence of people and nature, but also to the inherent contradiction of their interaction. It was with that in mind that I started researching local fauna and discovered that in ancient times nomadic peoples in the area embraced the wolf as a spiritual symbol, believing it to represent courage, unity and freedom. Wolves were deemed to share many characteristics with humanity and on that basis I hypothesized that the contacts between people and wolves may not have been limited to issues of existence but also involved, in part, the self projection of social nature and imagery. Indeed, as human lifestyles have evolved, poems, songs and historical records through the ages have lamented the near extinction of wolves, a fact that also seems to allude to the changing times and the loss of that original spirit.
2016 Artist in Residence: Lin Kun-Ying
My time in Scotland was filled with myriad things; mountains with yellow flowers, rocks covered in green moss, cars under snow, fields surrounded by woods, bonfire red, rusted casks, copper stills, gray clay in clear water. Everything is mixed together.
One day, I walked towards the source of a spring. I climbed two hills and arrived at a small hill where the land sunk a little. It was surrounded by trees. I lay down and just stared into the sky. I closed my eyes, trying to remember every day of my life. Three years old, thirteen, thirty, three days ago, today... Images flashed through my mind. I could not tell when they registered and started to feel sentimental. Several hours passed. Suddenly, it began to pour. I did not open my eyes. The rain fell on the grass, tree leaves, rocks, soil and my body. I tried very hard to listen. Each drop created a distinct sound.
It might as well be the whispering of life itself. It has never stopped.
Since returning to Taiwan, whenever it rains I remember the distinct sound of rain from that day; but it sounds a lot more like noise now.
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