Peacock Visual Arts presents ISLAND, an exhibition of new work from Scottish artist Bobby Niven. Using film, sculpture and found objects, Niven explores the strange architecture and intriguing history of Inchgarvie Island, an uninhabited islet located under the Forth Rail Bridge in Edinburgh.
Recently tipped by The List as the one of eight Scottish based artists to watch, acclaimed artist Niven has exhibited both locally and nationally, from the Sierra Metro in Edinburgh to the CSA space in Vancouver Canada and last year was awarded the Creative Development award from Creative Scotland.
His latest body of work ISLAND, on show at Aberdeen’s Centre for Contemporary Art from 25 May, is based around the strange architectural history of Inchgarvie whose now uninhabited ruins tell of past lives as a castle, a prison, a quarantine and a foundry and accommodation for the workers who built the Forth Rail Bridge under whose shadow it sits.
The exhibition, like the Inchgarvie ruins themselves, comprises of distinct but related parts: the film, the grey room of concrete sculptures and the orange room of objects and artefacts.
Shot on location the film evolves around a room full of sculpted birds and a lone inhabitant. There is a seemingly playful and humorous visual language to Niven’s film as the character prances and cavorts across his island but this quirky abandon is misleading. Despite the humour, a dark undercurrent runs through. Framed shots of sinister sculpted birds, contaminating deposits of guano, the lapping water, flotsam and jetsam and a manic trumpeted soundtrack all contribute to a feeling of suspense and isolation. (The suggestion that our island fellow is perhaps quarantined, the result of a modern day pandemic, alludes to the island’s history as a place of seclusion for syphilis and plague victims.)
The colonies of sea birds that occupy the island and their vast deposits of guano were the inspiration for the sculpted birds perched inside the concrete dingy rooms of the ruins that feature in the film. Niven further references and repeats these motifs by creating large-scale concrete abstract forms that take over the gallery in all their monochromatic splendor, paying tribute to the island’s concrete structures.
Continuing the narrative and landscape of the film, found objects and artefacts that relate to the island, the structural forms of the bridge and the activity of the fictitious character are displayed with museum reverence inside an orange fluorescent box in the reception gallery.
Artist Bobby says: “The exhibition at Peacock is the result of a years work collecting footage and working in the studio to produce my first body of work that incorporates both film and sculpture. This supported time has allowed me the freedom to experiment and explore the relationship between sculpture and film.”
A limited edition print that the artist created at Peacock will be on sale, with a ten per cent discount on the opening night only. Preview night Friday 25 May, 6 – 8pm all welcome. With kind sponsorship from anCnoc Highland Single Malt Whisky. Exhibitions run 26 May – 7 July 2012.