Graham Fagen

Graham Fagen : Baile An Or

12th August – 2nd October

Graham Fagen is an artist who lives in Glasgow. He graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 1988 and the interdisciplinary MA in Art & Architecture from the Kent Institute of Art and Design in 1990. Graham Fagen was Artist in Residence at Timespan between January and August 2011. We chose to work with Graham to seek his interpretation of ‘our place’, while reflecting universal needs of identity and belonging.

He works in a variety of medium ranging from sculpture and print making through to video and photography. He works with what he describes as ‘cultural formers’, things that form our cultural identity and how in turn, that forms us. These cultural formers might be cultural or political, intimate or remote, or in this case, the experience of a place and a topography. He has made a number of works exploring the legacies of Robert Burns’ work on contemporary ideas of Scotland; such as The Slave’s Lament, for a solo exhibition Clean Hands Pure Heart at Tramway, Glasgow or I Murder Hate for The Changing Room, Stirling.

In 2006 he collaborated with theatre director Graham Eatough and curator Katrina Brown to produce Killing Time, an exhibition between art and theatre, at Dundee Contemporary Arts, which forms the starting point for a further ambitious collaboration for Glasgow International in 2012.

His international exhibitions include the Busan Biennale, South Korea and the Art and Industry Bienial, New Zealand, as well as being part of Zenomap, Scotland and Venice at the 50th Venice Biennale.

In Britain he has exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Britain and the Institute of Contemporary Art, London and in 1999 was invited by the Imperial War Museum, London to work as the Official War Artist for Kosovo.

Baile An Or

During his time here, Graham produced an HD video work and worked with the local community on creating their own short films.

The subject of Graham’s video work is the sea, the river and the land that form Helmsdale and the Strath of Kildonan and the life that this place has formed; the gold that comes from its geology, the living that is made from its land and its animals; the legacy of its past and the possibility of its future. He has created an artwork that is specific to place, while reflecting universal needs of identity and belonging; of a relationship with nature and with each other.

The use of the medium of video has allowed Graham to not only represent place and form but also time and sound. Through it he shows the passing of the seasons and we can watch and listen to the movement of the water and the wind.

Graham has produced an artwork that reflects life. A work that is specific and universal. An artwork that nods in the direction of others who have achieved universal inspiration with similar subject matter, such as Arvo Part’s version of Robert Burns’s ‘My Heart’s In The Highlands’ or Neil Gunn’s ‘Highland River’.

‘Old as the rocks, warm as sunshine, insinuating as the wind, is this river that flows down the straths of time.’

Neil M. Gunn Highland River

Graham worked in the archives at Timespan specifically looking at the history of the land use and distribution of people over the last 200 years, including Baile an Or and the history of the gold rush. The film also addresses the industries of the area, involvement in the war efforts, architecture and planning and the botany.

Graham also initiated a community project for seven community members who were interested in producing their own mini HD film of their concepts, ideas and understandings of their part of Sutherland. He worked with the group using the common idea of place and meaning as a starting point for their own production. Participants were encouraged to think about what is important to them about where they live and for them then to record that with mini HD cameras. Podi Plass, Ben Keighley, Sean Robertson, Heather Macdonald, Brian Adams, Lisa Macdonald and Jacquie Aitken have all created a short film reflecting this shared idea and these can be viewed in the foyer area.

Once the exhibition has closed at Timespan, Baile An Or and the community films will go on a tour of Sutherland. Stills from the film can be seen below

This project is supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and by the Eurpoean Community Highland Leader 2007-2013 Programme.

Please take time to look at the films made by the community members.

Fin by Podi Plass from Timespan on Vimeo.


A Fisherman by Heather Macdonald


A Meeting of Worlds by Sean Robertson


When You Call Me by Lisa Macdonald