North Sea Hitch

North Sea Hitch banner image
Still from ‘Dead Reckoning’ (13mins, 2012) Stephen Hurrel (produced during Sublime residency at The Lighthouse Field Station, Cromarty)

North Sea Hitch was a residency and exhibition by Glasgow-based artist Stephen Hurrel. Often working with science and technology to explore the connections between people and place, Hurrel drew on Helmsdale’s coastal location to investigate our evolving relationship with the sea and its potential futures.


North Sea Hitch saw Scotland’s northern seascapes brought into Timespan’s Gallery with an exhibition of Hurrel’s existing sea-based pieces alongside new work which evolved and changed as the artist responded to his new environment.

North Sea Hitch presented three film pieces made by Hurrel in response to Scottish coastal and marine environments; two existing works, Dead Reckoning (2012) and Mapping the Sea: Barra (2013), and a new work made while on his residency in Helmsdale in June and July. The works were shown consecutively, with each piece presented as an immersive film installation and on show for four weeks.

Dead Reckoning | 8 June – 1 July
Produced during a residency at the Lighthouse Field Station, a marine mammal research centre in Cromarty, north of Inverness, Dead Reckoning used footage and audio from above and below the water’s surface to create a cinematic and sonic portrait of this maritime environment, where industry, tourism and nature intersect.

Mapping the Sea: Barra | 5-29 July
Drawing on local knowledge of uncharted coastal and maritime topography around the island of Barra, Mapping the Sea: Barra explored the relationship between language and landforms, and the connections between fishermen and the sea set against a backdrop of technological development within the fishing industry.

The Sea, the Sails, and the White, White Blades | 2-31 August
The Sea, the Sails, and the White, White Blades was a new work that explored our evolving relationship to the sea and its potential futures made by the artist during his residency in Helmsdale.

This three-screen video installation, incorporated sculptural and found objects, as a direct response to Helmsdale and the north-east coast of Scotland at a particular point in history. The installation collapsed time and place to explore ideas of innovation and progress relating to industries of the sea, and located these activities within the on-going cycles of nature, local traditions.

At the time of developing this work, approval was given for a major off-shore wind farm in the Outer Moray Firth, consisting of 326 wind turbines. Once built, it will become the third largest off-shore wind farm in the world.

Stephen Hurrel

Stephen works with video, sound, sculpture and text to explore relationships between people and place. His work often connects with science and technology to explore and record interactions and tensions between nature and contemporary society. Aside from his gallery-based practice Hurrel produces commissioned works responding to specific geographic locations, in particular marine environments. He has recently completed a short film based around ‘naming and modes of orientation and navigation’ in relation to the island of Barra and an online piece – Sea Stories: Barra – – was produced during 2012-13 in collaboration with a social ecologist, online developers and in partnership with local people and organisations on Barra, funded by a Creative Scotland ‘First In A Lifetime Award’.


North Sea Hitch was funded by Creative Scotland through the GENERATION programme, a nation-wide celebration of the last 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland. Additional funding was provided by the Highland Council.


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