Northern Exchange | Roxane Permar & Susan Timmins

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Northern Exchange investigated the legacy of the Cold War in Northern Scotland as it exists both physically in the landscape, and in memory.

Bringing together work across sculpture, photography, film, and sound, Northern Exchange encouraged a different understanding of Scotland’s remote north through a consideration of the area’s historic significance as a new Front Line for defence against the perceived Soviet threat in the Cold war era.

The exhibition title references both nuclear exchange, a term used to describe the firing of nuclear weapons, but also the exchange of memories and recollections that are at the centre of the artists’ collaborative work.

The exhibition in Helmsdale drew our attention to the questions that Cold War era history and the nuclear issue raise and invited viewers to take part in a dialogue about experiences and perceptions of this period.


Cold War Memories and Futures workshop: Saturday 14 February, 11am – 1pm

Through conversation and through writing, this workshop will explored memories of the Cold War period and their continued resonances today.

Rockets Galore film screening,

The sequel to the classic comedy, Whisky Galore, Rockets Galore returns to the fictional Hebridean island of Todday where its community are up in arms at plans to site a missile base in their midst. Though humourous in tone, the film makes visible the very real anxieties around militarisation and Cold War technologies that existed at the time of its production.


Roxane Permar & Susan Timmins

Roxane Permar and Susan Timmins live and work in Shetland.  Their interest in the Cold War stems from the fact that they were born during the Cold War which overshadowed their lives until they were in their late thirties.  Collaboration plays an important role in each of their practices.  Previously they collaborated on The Nuclear Roadshow (Shetland,1990) and the participatory project, Domestic Dialogues (Shetland & Russia, 2007).  They began working together again in 2011 to develop their shared interest in the Cold War.  Both artists work in a variety of media.  Permar uses textiles, film and social exchange to realise public projects and sculptural installations, including Mirrie Dancers (2009-2012), a major collaboration with London-based artist Nayan Kulkarni for a project using light in Shetland.  Timmins focusses on photography, sound and moving image.  She realised the performance and installation, Inch by Inch (2013).  She founded The Claesline Gallery in 2006 at her home in Shetland.  Both artists work in the UK and internationally.  In 2014 they were awarded a Creative Scotland Artists’ Bursary to further develop their collaborative projects on the Cold War period.

Roxane Permar works in the field of public art and socially engaged practice where she responds to issues of location, history and community.  Processes of creative engagement, community consultation and inter-disciplinary collaboration underpin her practice which is is situated locally, nationally and internationally. She has realised projects, undertaken commissions and exhibited in Scandinavia, United Kingdom, Europe, Azerbaijan, Japan, America and Australia. Throughout her career she has combined her art practice with teaching and currently works on the BA (Hons) Contemporary Textiles course at Shetland College, the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Susan Timmins moved to the UK in 1978 where she lived and worked in London before moving to Shetland in 1992. Photography, sound and moving image lie at the heart of her practice with research and documentation fundamental to her work. Collaboration is an important element of her practice. She has collaborated intermittently with Roxane Permar since 1990 and in 2013 worked with young people on a performance piece and installation in support or of MAG (Mines Advisory Group). In 2006 she created The Claesline Gallery, an outdoor exhibition/performance space. She has exhibited in the UK and Europe.

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