In Residence - The RSA at Hospitalfield

an exhibition of work produced by three early-career professional artists

Article by Morag Keil | 10 Feb 2007

The RSA hosts an exhibition of work produced by three early-career professional artists: Julia Douglas, Catriona Grant and Miranda Blennerhassett. The work is the product of the RSA's annual residency
programme at Hospitalfield House near Arbroath. The artists are given a
grant for materials and full access to the museum-like interior and

The three artists are all based in Scotland and their responses to the
residency are dramatically different. Julia Douglas, an Edinburgh based
artist, produces works which strongly reflects the experience. Her work
delicately looks at the ideas of restoration, care of and respect for
history. There is an element of the loneliness experienced in the old
house captured in her piece 'The Family Silver'. This piece utilises an
antique grand dinning table from the RSA at which places are set, with hand
pressed paper cutlery, for the Lord and Lady of the house. The absence of
human presence is clear and the loneliness reflects the loneliness of an
artist's practice. Douglas creates a human relationship with the house and
its historical contents by mending them with band aids which are tentatively screen printed to look like bone china. The historical and delicate elements of Douglas' work are very relevant to the residency but equally reflect the deep history that lies in Edinburgh.

Miranda Blennerhassett's site specific wall painting is very detached from
the historical elements of the Hospitalfield house and refers to the
grandness of the space and its grounds in a contemporary and graphic manner. This work is harder to relate to and difficult to link with the experience of the residency, especially because it is painted directly on the wall of the RSA, and so relates more to the exhibition space than the period of time spent in residence.

The final room contains a projection of a DVD work by Catriona Grant, 'My
Father My Son'. Like Julia Douglas' work, this DVD piece looks at the
passage of time and the loss of human presence. It is a ghostly piece that
uses the familiarity we have with family video footage and crosses it with
the oddness of the child being unspecific to us (the viewer). This is then
abstracted further with footage of an old shed door opening, shedding light
on the video. The film is religious in the metaphoric use of imagery; the
young boy walking away from us through water and the old door opening
symbolising a transition through youth to death and absence.

This exhibition is extremely diverse and it is interesting to see three
Scottish artists respond in such different ways to the same experience. The work by all three artists is well developed, however, I still feel curious and confused as to how the experience of living and working in a museum-esque environment effects an artist.

RSA, Edinburgh until 28 Jan. Free.