Zoë Walker & Neil Bromwich first worked together in 1998 in Orkney to produce Walker’s evocative film Dream Cloud for The Pier Arts Centre. Their practice has grown out of a history rooted in rural Scotland and a shared commitment to social cohesion, absurdist humour and the sublime. They respond to specific sites and engage audiences in large-scale projects, questioning aspects of society they see as unjust and encouraging dreams of a better world. Their practice ranges across sculpture, theatre, filmmaking, radio, protest, pageant and public interventions to enable participants to consider other ways of being, whether on a personal, local or global level. Operating within an art world that they believe is suspicious of authenticity and hopefulness, Walker & Bromwich challenge easy cynicism.
To cut through disillusion and negativity, their work invites us to consider the role that conviction and belief might still play. Such themes underpin Celestial Radio 87.7FM (2004–12) – a mirrored yacht that has journeyed over the globe from Skye to Sydney transmitting sound works that immerse audiences in visionary new readings of the diverse landscapes that the work encounters.
Since around 2008 the artists have increasingly used sociability and public involvement in their work. For them personal transformation is more likely through direct experience, through getting involved with climate change and social injustice as pressing threats. Their project Encampment of Eternal Hope (2012–13) for BALTIC in Newcastle upon Tyne built on earlier absurdist works such as Love Cannon (2005–ongoing) in which a pink, inflatable cannon was paraded down a street. Encampment had a futurist, utopian, survivalist atmosphere. It comprised a collection of dwellings, part-tent and part-plant, nestled amongst a forest of hybrid sculptures that blurred botanical and military forms.
Other works, such as Eccentric Banquet (2011) or The Conch [Sound Studio] (2010–11), operate as much as platforms to generate discussion and share experience with the public, rather than aesthetic objects alone. For GENERATION, Walker & Bromwich are creating another fantastical project with Orkney at its centre: visitors will enter into a hybrid place redolent of renewable energy, the Neolithic world and the myths of maritime changelings.