Matthew Dalziel and Louise Scullion’s art explores the complex, and at times strained, relationship between mankind and the natural world. Working together in a broad range of media including photography, video, sound and installation, they produce artworks that offer us the opportunity to think about the various habitats and species we live with. Whilst some of their works bring aspects of nature into the art gallery, others, such as The Horn (1997), beside the M8 motorway, Gold Leaf (2011) or their recent work Rosnes Bench (2013), are installed in the landscape.
The artists’ interest in particular landscapes stems from when they lived in the small village of St Combs in the north-east of Scotland and developed following research trips to Norway. Their film Water Falls Down (2001), which shows three adults being baptised in the North Sea, reflects the artists’ understanding of different involvements in the landscape – in this case a traditional community’s respect for and faith in nature. Works such as Source (2007) and Genus (2003) explore ideas of living in the landscape and human impact upon it. Dealing with questions of freedom and control, Dalziel + Scullion’s art often features wildlife, but the animals they portray are sometimes separated from their natural habitat. The opening image of In The Open Sea (2002), for example, features a shoal of herring swimming in circles in an aquarium.
Tumadh: Immersion (2014), which has been specially commissioned by An Lanntair in Stornoway and Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh, continues to investigate this idea but contrasts two very different forms of environment – the city of Edinburgh and the Outer Hebrides. In this ambitious work, Dalziel + Scullion explore the way city living disrupts our relationship with nature in comparison with lifestyles that are more in tune with it. In paying particular attention to the specifics of these places, their work encourages us to examine ideas of belief, pilgrimage, cleansing and transformation so as to reawaken our sense of our place in the world.