Jacqueline Donachie’s art deals with ideas of communication, participation and how public spaces are designed, managed and used. Alongside this very public approach, however, is a deeply personal exploration of biomedical research. The artist became interested in this area after several close family members were diagnosed with a genetic illness. Donachie works across a range of materials including drawing, photography, sculpture and installation. For example, Tomorrow Belongs to Me (2006), the result of a collaboration with Darren Monckton, a professor of human genetics at the University of Glasgow, is a research project and film installation. It examines the personal impact of illness on individuals and families, but the artist also engaged with the scientific community whose research sought to explain how such illness arose.
The artist also organises temporary events that involve the public. Often these projects will be accompanied by a small book as a means to provide a sense of longevity. She sees these as artworks in their own right. Such ideas reinforce her interest in stimulating a connection with art away from the gallery setting.
In 2009 Donachie undertook a residency with Deveron Arts, in Huntly, Aberdeenshire. Here, the artist was interested in examining the town square and how, like many such places across the country, it has changed from a civic square into a place to park cars. Through discussion with the community she sought to challenge this transformation by restricting vehicular access, and instead offered locals the chance to cycle freely. This culminated in Huntly Slow Down, a group cycling parade that encouraged participants to reclaim the now empty roads with improvised chalk dispensers (contrails) attached to their bikes. Hundreds of multicoloured lines were created, mapping cycle routes across the town.
In 2013 Donachie revisited the idea for the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne. She wanted cyclists to slow down and reconsider the city spaces which they usually raced past on their daily commute. Through participatory events such as these, Donachie wants to shift established relationships between gallery space, artist and viewer. She creates artworks that question existing patterns of everyday life and encourage us to interact with each other and our surroundings in a more direct and stimulating way.
For GENERATION, Jackie Donachie has been commissioned to produce a new public art project, New Weather Coming, bringing contemporary art to those travelling by public transport across Scotland this summer.