Craig Coulthard’s practice encompasses a broad range of media and scale, from the extraordinarily ambitious (and still evolving) Forest Pitch, a lifesize football pitch created in a Borders woodland; to smaller objects often referencing craft traditions – banners, handpainted plates, rugs. The work is united by a common concern, the artist’s extended enquiry into identity, history and memory. How and what do we remember? And how do these memories inform our identity (individual, cultural, national)?
Coulthard’s latest work, a film installation, imagines a commemoration ceremony of the future, where the heroic deeds of machines are publicly acknowledged and remembered. The drone of the title refers to that most quintessentially Scottish of instruments, the bagpipe, but also to the unmanned robotic aircraft deployed in contemporary military campaigns and humanitarian rescue operations.
Deliberately ambiguous, Coulthard’s film suggests the contradictions inherent in a succession of romanticised images. The bagpipe and drums are now firmly established as essential to Scottish ceremonial (military and civilian), yet once (and perhaps for precisely that reason) they were outlawed. The Scottish landscape is understood as a beautiful natural wilderness, largely untouched by humans, yet it is home to dangerous and destructive weapons. The technology of the future can be used to threaten the very systems that developed it.
Commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival 2014.
Supported through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.