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Kenny Hunter Major New Work - Helmsdale

22nd September 2012

Exhibition: 6 October - 14 November
Private view with the artist: 12 October 7-9pm
Timespan Gallery │ Free
Opening Times: Monday -Saturday 10-5 │ Sunday 12-5
From October 29: Saturday and Sunday 11-5 │ Tuesday 2-4

Scottish artist Kenny Hunter will launch his largest and most challenging public art work yet in a remote location in the far North West Highlands on Saturday 13th October. Timespan will show an accompanying exhibition documenting the development of this project and other artworks from 6 October to 14 November, with an exhibition evening with the artist on the 12th October.

Glasgow based Kenny Hunter has created a number of high profile, public commissioned works including: Citizen Firefighter, 2001, outside Glasgow's Central Station; Youth with split apple, 2005 for Kings College, Aberdeen; iGoat 2010 in Spitalfields, London. He has exhibited extensively in Britain and abroad including solo exhibitions at: Arnolfini 1998; Scottish National Portrait Gallery 2000; Yorkshire Sculpture Park 2006; Tramway 2008; Conner Contemporary, Washington USA 2009.
Hunter became fascinated by stories throughout the world of Monsters and Giants, depicting 'outcasts' condemned to exist in remote or barren places. Scotland has an empathy with this tradition, indeed much of its history has been defined by characters and events marked by sacrifice and exile, such as William Wallace, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Highland Clearances.

From the outset Hunter imagined the final work within a wild area in the North Highlands; Timespan Museum and Art Centre hosted his research across the area and realisation of the project. In Sutherland you can find the ruins of cleared villages like Rosal, plus earthworks, duns, forts and chambered cairns from earlier Neolithic, Iron and Bronze Age periods. There are also many supernatural local stories relating to this landscape, featuring ghosts, monsters and giants. This type of oral tradition is a continuing part of Highland culture and this new work has been conceived in response to it.

His latest and largest figure to date, is made in nodal iron, a material which patinates to a red rust-like finish, sympathetic to the landscape palette. The articulation of joints in its skeletal form reminds us of 20th century artists such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth who developed new forms though manipulation and abstraction. Yet it has 21st century personality - the stance 'has attitude' and engages the viewer with its relationship to the landscape it surveys.

Based in Borgie Forest, hosted by Forestry Commission Scotland, this permanent public art work is in an exceptional and atmospheric location - on a knoll with a 360 view over forest, moors and the mountains of the far North. On Saturday 13 October the launch will be celebrated with a day of events based at Borgie Forest Cabin. Artist's tours by Kenny Hunter will be complemented by an exhibition of art and activities exploring the history and geography of the local area, with a road-show by Strathnaver Museum.

At Timespan an exhibition of the research work for the sculpture includes drawings and models of different 'monsters'. In the main gallery recent sculptures examine our relationship to the natural world. Videos, family trails, competitions for children and school packs will add to the visit and encourage children to be creative.

Timespan, Helmsdale, is set within a wild and remote landscape where wild life are literally in their natural element, but are also part of the food or tourism industries. Kenny Hunter's starting points for these artworks often come from the urban context of his everyday life: internet stories of deer populating Glasgow - but hunted by bored kids, or a peregrine falcon feeding on an urban pigeon outside the window of his studio window - in an industrial conversion. In the gallery a promethean bonfire burns; symbolically offering us heat, light, a place to cook and gather, it represents our first step away from nature - giving us the potential to both civilise or lay waste.

Kenny Hunter explains, ' In my work creation and destruction are part of the same natural and inevitable process. The use of colour also serves to locate the artwork within the present and opens up new sets of associations. Although I derive inspiration from the past, the subject matter I use draws upon contemporary popular culture - its morals, politics and belief systems.'

This project was made possible through the support of Forestry Commission Scotland, Creative Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Highland Council, University of Edinburgh, Borgie Forest Cabin, Strathnaver Museum , Tongue and Bettyhill Community Council and the people of the communities of Helmsdale, Bettyhill, and Skerray.

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