Dalziel + Scullion : Wolf
Wolf is a new short film by artists Dalziel + Scullion. The film is a creative synthesis of the spoken word, images and music, addressing ideas about co-existence and loss, it is based around the story of the last wolf in Sutherland that is said to have been killed by hunter Polson on or around 1700.
The narrative of the film is written by Robin LLoyd-Jones and touches on ideas about migration, land use, religion and ecology. There are long parts of the film where there are no words, only images and the haunting sound of Aidan O’Rourke’s music played on looped solo fiddle.
The work was commissioned by Timespan. This area is synonymous with the Highland Clearances of the late 18th and early 19th century, when hundreds of crofting families were cleared off the land, particularly from the glens that radiate from Helmsdale to make way for large herds of livestock and new ways of managing the land. The film was shot predominantly in Glen Loth and the Strath of Kildonan and speaks further of other types of activities that have cleared or changed the face of the landscape, that of plantation forests, of estate game hunting, farming and even gold panning – activities that fluctuate in relation to economic forces and cultural acceptances.
Wolf examines our failure to co-exist with large predators whose absence have had a fundamental impact on the ecology of the Scottish landscape. It suggest that the wolf’s absence from our landscape is also symbolic of our overall detachment from nature, which is reflected in a spiritual and psychological yearning we carry within us.
This is the first time that Dalziel + Scullion (fine art studio), Aidan O’Rourke (musician) and Robin Lloyd-Jones (writer) have worked together, sharing their deep fascination with the Scottish landscape, it’s territory and culture. In each of their careers they have consistently distilled impressions of the land and our relationship to it, interpreting these through their own mediums, whilst holding in common a sympathetic acknowledgement of the fragility of Scotland’s rich biodiversity.
Dalziel + Scullion’s studio, based in Dundee creates artworks in photography, video, sound and sculpture that explore new artistic languages around the subject of ecology. The work strives to visualise aspects of our shared environment from alternative perspectives and to re-establish and re-evaluate our engagement with the non-human species we live alongside. Matthew Dalziel + Louise Scullion have worked collaboratively for over twenty years during which time their work has been selected for a number of national and international exhibitions including the British Art Show and the Venice Biennale and have received numerous awards and prizes including the Creative Scotland Award, the Eco Prize for Creativity, the Saltire Award for Art in Architecture and were short-listed for the international Artes Mundi Prize. Matthew + Louise are frequently invited to make site specific works where they enjoy responding to the particular characteristics of a place, these include works for Saddler’ Wells Theatre, London, the London Science Museum, Pooley Colliery and Heathrow Airport. They are often speakers at leading conferences and symposiums on the subject of art and ecology and their work is also published in seminal survey books on the subject. Matthew + Louise grew up in Cummnock and Helensburgh respectively, the differing landscapes they can from shaped by the activities of mining and defence, have each played an informative past on both their interest and understanding of landscape. www.dalzielscullion.com
Aidan O’Rourke is a fiddler and composer and one of Scotland’s foremost musicians who is deeply rooted in tradition while audaciously expanding its parameters. A founder member of top UK folk acts Blazin’ Fiddles, Lau and Kan, he has released two solo albums, Sirius (2006) and An Tobar (2008), as well as featuring on more than 130 recordings by other artists. His original compositions, including a sting of high-profile commissions, have won widespread acclaim for their innovative synthesis of diverse musical styles. With his band Lau Aidan has headlined festivals worldwide and toured extensively across three continents. Growing up in the Highland port of Oban, and then later on the island of Seil, Aidan began learning the fiddle aged eight absorbing a variety of influences from both his musical family and from local teachers, by age 16 he was a three time finalist in the prestigious Glenfiddich Fiddle Championships, since then he has gone on to win a string of awards including; Instrumentalist of the Year at the 2006 Scottish Traditional Music Awards, Composer of the Year at the 2011 Scottish Traditional Music Awards and his group Lau have won Best Group three times in 2008, 2009, 2011 at the BBC Folk Awards. Aidan has received a number of prestigious commissions including Mantra Alba, to welcome the Dalai Lama to Scotland in 2005. Aidan and Dalziel + Scullion first met on the island of Mull when they were each commissioned separately to create new works to mark the 10th anniversary of the innovative and groundbreaking arts organisation An Tobar. Aidan is based in Edinburgh. www.aidanorourke.net
Robin LLoyd-Jones is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction and author of twelve published books. His non-fiction is mainly about the environment and the wilderness and he is currently writing the biography of W H Murray, the Scottish mountaineer, writer and conservationist. Robin has lived in Scotland for most of his adult life after a childhood spent in India and in the west country of England. He studied social anthropology at Cambridge University and later was very involved in Scotland’s educational policy when he became the director for Scotland’s first curriculum development centre. He has also been a tutor of creative writing at Glasgow University and has worked tirelessly in the defense of freedom of expression through his various senior roles within the international literary and human rights organisation, PEN. Robin’s novel, Lord of the Dance (1983), won the BBC Bookshelf First Novel Award and was nominated for the Booker Prize; his radio drama, Ice in Wonderland, won the BBC award for Best New Radio Script. His work of fiction, Red Fox Running was nominated for the Manchester Children’s Book Award. Robin’s non-fiction book, Argonauts of the Western Isles (2008), which describes his kayaking adventures around the Scottish coast, is generally regarded as a classic of its kind. Robin has worked with Dalziel + Scullion before, writing script for ‘River’ which was part of their Film ‘Speaking the Land’. Robin is based in Helensburgh, on the west coast of Scotland. www.robinlloydjones.com