The Bladnoch Altarpiece
The gallery is welcoming Hope London for April and May 2018. Originally from New York Hope is settled now in Wigtown (Scotland’s Book Town). As well as having a background in law and creating music, Hope is an accomplished professional artist and will be doing a residency at the gallery in preparation for an exhibition at the gallery over Dumfries and Galloway’s Spring Fling weekend.
“In March 2016, I returned from a residency at New York’s Carlton Arms Hotel (“If These Walls Could Talk”, supported by Creative Scotland/South of Scotland Visual Arts and Crafts Makers Award and Carlton Arms Art Project). It expanded my international practice and took my thinking and creative approach to a new level. The objective was to transform a hotel room. I wanted to reflect the history of the place - once a Prohibition-era speakeasy, it housed some of New York’s most colourful characters in the 1970s to 90s. Artists put their mark on each room and every inch of hallway. While developing a concept, I interviewed the long-term staff who know the hotel’s secrets, uncovering stories about mental health issues, gender identity, substance abuse and the transformative power of humour and community. I filled the room with words and images, shared progress online, held an open studio, wrote a song about it and performed for over 300 people at the launch.
The Bladnoch Altarpiece will explore the history and present reality of the former Bladnoch Creamery, taking the multi-disciplinary creative process I explored in New York to a residency right here in rural Galloway.
The project is inspired by and will take place on the site of the former creamery in the tiny village of Bladnoch (just outside Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town). Once a major employer in this remote, rural area, the creamery was abandoned in the 1970s, the site falling into dereliction until artists and artisans began working there around 20 years later. Today, the creamery has been replaced by low key micro-businesses, milk and cream by music and machinery. Sparks illuminate the dark warehouse where artisans make stoves by hand, the sound of metal against metal echoes from the auto repair shop while music producers in nearby buildings labour in sound-insulated silence.
Yet the surviving industrial infrastructure holds traces of the old creamery – the faded, hand-painted Bladnoch Creamery sign etched into its bricks, a metal bridge connecting two buildings, the ‘broken windows and empty hallways’ shadows of the people who once inhabited the space (like those in Randy Newman’s song “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today”). Development has started on other areas of the Bladnoch industrial site, and chances are it won’t remain this way for long.
The ‘Bladnoch Altarpiece’ is a multi-media residency, exhibition and community project. In terms of artistic production, it will combine painting, drawing, narrative and sound, building on the working practices I explored in ‘If These Walls Could Talk’ - developing ideas by investigating the history of the place, interviewing people who work/worked there, working in multiple art forms. Painting, drawing, writing and soundscape will all be part of this residency.”
There will be opportunities in May to visit Hope and chat to her about her work and the gallery will be using video and blog posts to show the progression of this exciting project. There are regular updates on our social media pages and video posts on our YouTube channel.
Upland’s Spring Fling weekend is from the 26th to the 28th May – the gallery opening times for the Spring Fling weekend will be:
Friday 26th May – evening opening 6 – 8 pm.
Saturday 26th May 10 am through to 8pm.
Sunday 27th May 10.30 am through to 8pm.
Monday 28th May 10.30 am through to 8pm.
All images © respected artists and Unit 3 Gallery. Website © Unit 3 Gallery
Unit Three Gallery, Bladnoch Bridge Estate, Wigtown, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, DG8 9AB