Smith’s Art Gallery: ‘De/constructing’ life after lockdown

6 mins read

Art – it means something different to everyone, because none of us look through the same set of eyes. We all perceive things differently but what art does, is something deeper than what we can see with our eyes. Art makes us feel, and it allows us to share those feelings with others.

We may not be looking at the same thing, but art gives us the ability to connect with people on a much greater level –  through how it makes us feel.

There is great power in expressing yourself, the impact it can have on a stranger is huge and the release it can give you can be life changing – and I think after the last year and a half, we could all use some relief.

The Stirling Smith’s Art Gallery is thrilled to present ‘De/construct’, an outdoor sculpture exhibition by the GOSSIP collective – (Graduate Opportunities Supporting Sustained Independent Practice) Collective is an artist-led non-profit organisation that works to provide opportunities for creatives. The group was formed in 2017 and is based in Stirling.

The group began running workshops at the Cowane Centre where they brought local artists together to create and showcase their work. From there they formed relationships with many artists throughout Scotland and began exhibiting in Stirling.

For the past year and a half, everyone’s lives have been deconstructed. Routines that were once set in the stone had to be dispersed to make room for lockdown. Virtual events replaced with zoom calls took away the presence and touch of real human contact. Small gestures that we took for granted disappeared from our daily lives but many people have found great comfort from spending time outdoors or creating a happy place in the space around their home.  

By placing these sculptures in a biodiversity garden, it offers a fantastic opportunity to explore the relationship we have with the outside world. It gives people a place to think about the things that have fallen apart and how we put them back together again.

Through interventions with pre-existing objects, environments, or materials, eight artists have created artworks turning their surrounding ‘negative space’ into positive visual expression.

De/construct is an exhibition that was birthed out of this unusual time: it is a response to change and explores what keeps us together through our relationship with nature.

Lockdown and the pandemic has produced so many fragmented thoughts, this peaceful garden allows them the opportunity to reconnect.

As a Stirling based art collective, GOSSIP are aiming to engage with the local public by helping to facilitate opportunities for contemporary artists in Stirlingshire and beyond.

With almost 100 members, many emerging from Forth Valley College, GOSSIP regularly respond to open calls around particular cultural or connecting themes.

Meet some of the inspiring artists involved:

Tracy Dougall:

Scottish Contemporary Artist who loves nature and depicting the landscape in the form of drawing, painting and printmaking.

Alice Martin:

Scottish contemporary artist currently living and working in Stirlingshire. Alice is a Committee Member of GOSSIP (Graduate Opportunities Supporting Sustained Independent Practice) Collective, Stirling. She received her MLitt in Archaeological Studies from the University of the Highlands and Islands (2019) and BA (Hons) in Contemporary Art Practice from Gray’s School of Art (2017).

Ken Elliott:

Sculptur Ken Elliott, whose work has been displayed by the Engine Shed and Stirling University Art Collection, only discovered his talent two years ago. His artistic practice has quickly developed from the production of pen and ink hand-coloured drawings, computer-controlled wood carving and metal scultures.

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Lesley McDermott:

Fundamental to Lesley’s practice as a visual artist is collaboration with like-minded creative and engagement with the wider community. Lesley has been an active member of artist-run collectives for many years, exhibiting regularly in group exhibitions. Alongside this, she has endeavoured to encourage collaborative projects, exhibitions, and events in the Forth Valley area and across the central belt, with artists in a variety of forums, regularly seeking out space to hold exhibitions and events. Lesley founded G.O.S.S.I.P. Collective in 2017, which continues to offer Arts opportunities to artists, often connecting with charities, businesses, and community groups.

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Ann Shaw:

“My work is a spontaneous response to the world we live in.

I try to say something new about it.

Joseph Beuys said: “ We are all artists”.

And I believe digital technologies have the power to enable everyone to be creative in ways undreamt of even ten years ago.”

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Artists: Tracey Dougal, Chelsie Dysart, Ken Elliott, Alice Martin, Valerie Martin, Lesley McDermott,
Audrey McMenemy, and Ann Shaw.

Feature image credit: Canva edit by Hannah Coyle

Image credits: photos by Hannah Coyle

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