Projects

Paradigm North – Deep Time | 2017-2018

Looking back into the distant past, and forwards into equally distant futures. Our programme will look to Helmsdale’s fossil-rich coast and explore the geological history of the North Highland region, to the nuclear site at Dounreay which raises questions of the long-term impact of contemporary science and culture and to the peatland expanse of the Flow Country where plant matter laid down over thousands of years is playing an important role in the fight against climate change. We will uncover the history of Helmsdale’s medieval castle, revisit the Gold Rush in the Strath of Kildonan, discover one of India’s oldest theatre traditions and journey to the mountains and monasteries of Bhutan.

Ghosting the Castle | Nicky Bird –  a project focusing on the layered histories and issues related to Helmsdale’s medieval castle and the A9 bridge which replaced it explored through Timespan’s Archive and culminating in an event-based artwork in September 2017.
SOURCEMOUTH : LIQUIDBODY | Hanna Tuulikki – an audio-visual installation that flows between gesture and sound, inspired by the mnemonic landscapes of India and the relationships between river-systems and the human body.
CINE:  See the past, imagine the future Connected Culture and Natural Heritage in a Northern Environment (CINE) aims to transform people’s experiences of outdoor heritage sites through technology, building on the idea of “museums without walls”. New digital interfaces such as augmented reality, virtual world technology, and easy to use apps will bring the past alive, it will allow us to visualise the effects of the changing environment on heritage sites, and help us to imagine possible futures.

Paradigm North – Making | 2016-2017

In our remote location we are used to make-do and mend and to finding solutions to practical problems. Amazon, Tesco, Ikea et al deliver to our homes, but local knowledge remains an important resource accessible for everyday life. In an environment where old skills are still present, we revisit historic objects from our collection and the community to help us design a better future. In an ever increasing disposable material culture it has become very important to adhere to the principles of sustainability and innovation and to rethink everyday objects through the eyes of artists, designers, makers and users. This year we are celebrating Timespan’s 30th Anniversary.

Flowers from your garden in any container – a photographic exhibition by designer Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad who has been working in parallel to Revisiting our Museum, a project that will see the renewal of Timespan’s Museum in Spring 2017.
Making Museums – a two-day event focusing on the ways in which geography, people and politics can determine how we create the museums of today.
Graduate Fellowship 2017 | Alison Scott – our second Graduate Fellowship.
A Layered Land – an exhibition bringing together the work of Caroline Dear and Magi Sinclair, made in response to the peatlands of Northern Scotland.
Revisiting our Museum – a project looking at our museum, the stories it tells and the objects it holds as part of Timespan’s 30th year.
Vik Prjónsdóttir – an exhibition of knitted textile works by Icelandic design collective Vík Prjónsdóttir.
Tool Tales – an exhibition bringing together a selection of work that explores the personal relationships that can be articulated by the tools with which we make.
All Objects Great and Small – an exhibition in Timespan’s Community Workshop which sees the full collection of nearly 2000 objects opened up to the public for the first time.
30 Years: An organisational history – an exhibition in our Foyer and Community Exhibition Room tracing the making of Timespan in three parts.
Seine Net Queens – an exhibition by independent design curators Panel that presents photographs from Timespan’s Archive of seine net queens and herring gutting girls alongside new works by textile designer Laura Spring, artist Bernie Reid and fashion researcher Mairi MacKenzie.

Paradigm North – Re-writing History | 2015-2016

Paradigm North – Re-writing History was a journey of discovery with our own Northern identity and the ambition to learn from others who share the same latitude. We drew a circle around the globe on the 58o latitude in search of creative communities that are located close to the sea with similar populations to Helmsdale in Sutherland.  Some of the questions we considered were: can we re-write our history? Can we position ourselves on the southern edge of North?

A Modern Pilgrimage: In the Footsteps of St. Donnan – looking to past pilgrims to consider what pilgrimage might be today.
58° North: A Journey around the Globe – a digital pilgrimage around the 58th latitude connecting communities across the world.
True North: Rewriting History conference – a multi-disciplinary conference considering how, why and for whom we write histories today.
Performing Histories – an exhibition bringing together moving image work that explores the construction and performance of national identities.
Under the Rays of the Aurora Borealis – an exhibition centred around a set of aurora drawings made by astrophysicist and amateur photographer Sophus Tromholt in 1882, re-found in the University of Bergen archive by creative archaeologist and journalist Christine Finn in 2015.
Force-Fire: An antidote for the ills of our age – a contemporary reworking of the folklore ritual Force-fire as an antidote for the ills of our age at Helmsdale’s Highland Games 2015.
ARTIST ROOMS | Joseph Beuys – an exhibition of work by the influential German artist Joseph Beuys whose belief in the social, cultural, and political potential of art continues to resonate today.
Death Makes Angels of Us All – an exhibition of video work by Beuysian Artist-in-Residence Clemens Wilhelm looking at the stories that we create about ourselves and the reasons we might tell them.
Graduate Fellowship 2016 | Hamish Young – our inaugural Graduate Fellowship

Paradigm North – Remoteness | 2014-2015

A year of projects exploring different aspects of remoteness. Remoteness is often aligned with a lack or absence – this was not our focus, nor is it our experience. Instead, these projects looked at the connections and relationships that existed within, and emanated from our remote location, explored past and future ideas of trade and travel, and investigated what remoteness meant in a contemporary context of digital connectedness.

Diefenbaker’s North – a series of events and activities around Canadian PM and Kildonan descendant John Diefenbaker’s Northern Vision.
Remote Possibilities – a residency for 5 MFA students in partnership with Edinburgh College of Art exploring what a contemporary understanding of remoteness might be.
Fifie ‘Collan’ – a project looking at the development of fishing and fishing boats through history.
North Sea Hitch – a residency and changing exhibition by artist Stephen Hurrel investigating the industrial histories and futures of the North Sea. Part of GENERATION: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland
True North Conference: Recording the Past, Present and Future – a multi-disciplinary conference on the subject of documentation.
Documentation mini-residencies – a two-week residency bringing together artists working with the conference theme of documentation as a subject and/or a process.

Creative Place Award | 2014

Initiated by Timespan, Helmsdale won the Creative Place Award 2014 and ran Serendipitous North -a creative mapping project and residency programme celebrating Helmsdale’s vibrant culture.

Paradigm North – Identity: Translocation – Kildonan Clearances Bicentenary | 2013

This was a year of events around the theme of our Identity commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Kildonan Clearances. The large scale removal of the many tenants who lived in the Strath of Kildonan that changed the lives of our people and our landscape forever. The displaced moved to Helmsdale and to the coast, to the big cities, and to new lands across the seas, especially Canada, with the promise of a better life – and to make way for thousands of sheep.

Riot Act – a residency by artist Anthony Schrag investigating the Kildonan Riots of 1813
History Repeating: Land Grabs and the Scottish Clearances -a major seminar highlighting the parallels between the Highland Clearances in Scotland and land grabs in developing countries held at Timespan in collaboration with Oxfam.
Fernweh – an international curators’ travelling project.
Translocation Excavation – a longhouse excavation at the Clearance-era township of Caen.
Home – an artist’s residency by Carolyn Lefley on the theme of home in response to Timespan’s Translocation excavation.
Translocation Festival – a two-week long festival commemorating the Bicentenary of the Highland Clearances in the Strath of Kildonan.

Digital Society | 2012-2013

This two-year artist’s residency programme was designed to engage the older community across East Sutherland with digital technologies through the contemporary visual arts. Digital Artist in Residence, Oliver Mezger worked with older community members and local community groups and has also explored the legacy of film-maker Margaret Tait who lived in the area in the 1960s. This project is supported by the Creative Scotland pARTners programme and the Scottish Community Foundation. See also: Calling Helmsdale and The Big Lament Symposium.

Museum Without Walls | 2010 -2013

Research and development of the Strath of Kildonan Clearances Trail App utilising the latest digital technologies for presentation, as well as more traditional methods of research. The project engaged communities in the local area and visitors from all over the world in the lead up to the Translocation Festival in 2013. The project was supported by Museums Galleries Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Art Across Sutherland | 2009-2012

A residency programme to creatively develop engagement in contemporary art with groups in Helmsdale and Sutherland using techniques developed from local, historical and geological roots. It was funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and by the European Community Highland Leader 2007-2013 Programme. The project supported our exhibition programme from June 2010 – June 2012 and included 4 residencies with the theme of ‘bridging’ arts and local area/community interests.

The Streets Where We Live: A Family History Perspective | 2010-11

This project took place between November 2010 and April 2011. Heritage Officer Jacquie Aitken worked closely with Timespan’s family history group and local volunteers on investigating the people and functions of the many homes in Helmsdale and Portgower. To find our more about this project, visit the project’s blog. This project was supported by Museums Galleries Scotland. In 2015 this project was re-visited and extended as part of 58° North.

OURS: Youth Arts Residency | 2007

In 2007 Timespan received funding from the Scottish Arts Council pARTners fund and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to develop a two-year programme designed to engage young people in the area with a young, practising, contemporary artist. The youth arts curator for the project was Ruth MacDougall who divided her time between working with young people in developing their own ideas and ownership of their projects and in developing her own work. This project finished in July 2009. Please visit the youth arts group blog and Ruth’s blog which she wrote when in residency at Timespan.

Outreach Residency programme | 2005-2007

The Outreach Residency programme was a two year pilot programme of visual arts residencies in Sutherland based on the local heritage, natural, built and cultural. Working closely with community groups in Helmsdale, Kildonan, Skerray, Brora, and Golspie, the artist’s in residence were Janis MacKay, Jonathan MacLeod, Julian Meredith, Nigel Mullan, Catriona Murray, Gemma Petrie and Beatriz Pimenta Velloso.

The Gartymore Story | 2005

The Gartymore Story explored the history of crofting and the people who lived and worked in crofting communities on the east coast of Sutherland. The story began abruptly at the beginning of the 19th century when hundreds of families were forcibly removed from Stath of Kildonan. They were relocated to some of the smallest agricultural units in Western Europe – the croft. The new tenants of Gartymore had to build their own houses, work the boggy land and ultimately survive on the steep hillsides. This project resulted in extensive research on the history of crofting in our area, and the establishment of the Gartymore Collection.