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  • ritakermack

Open Studio Day, 21st Aug.2021

The British Art Show 9 has offered many opportunities and roles to artists in the Northeast of Scotland to take part, support and promote this prestigious touring show of the best and most recent contemporary art in Britain.

My role as artist ambassador to BAS9 is to provide a link between the community and the touring show, giving insight into the practice of a contemporary artist and thus making contemporary art more tangible and accessible to everyone.

Limpet, Rita Kermack, 2021, mixed media, 148cm x 84cm

To this end I opened my studio to visitors last Saturday (21st August). I showed the diverse outcomes of my latest project, Littoral, as well as research material, such as photographs, sketchbooks and film clips.

I am intrigued by geomorphological processes and the way landscapes change. Ever since I came to Scotland, some 30 years ago, I was fascinated by the edge of our island as a place where land and sea meet and interact. The coast is where those changes are most visible and can be observed within a very short period of time. The intertidal or littoral zone is an environment of extremes. Only highly specialised life-forms can survive the high salt levels and the perpetual change of the tide. Weather conditions, pollution and other environmental issues can have a detrimental effect on the land, habitats and ecosystems found here. The continuous erosion and sedimentation mean that the coast is in a constant state of flux.

Therefore, the intertidal zone is a fragile and transient space. My art investigates forms of mapping coastal ecosystems and visually re-creates habitats while recording my holistic experiences. In doing so I hope to create a sense of place in my work that helps the viewer as well as myself to understand the vulnerability of our environment and to form a closer connection to it.

The studio was open between 10am and 5pm and received a steady stream of visitors, some friends, of course, but also many strangers who had seen the event advertised on the various social media platforms.

Lively discussions developed around the environmental themes connecting my work with the themes of BAS9: climate change, sustainability, our relationship to the coast and the sea. Many visitors were astonished to see how much research precedes the actual making of the work and how deep and scientific this research can be. Seeing my development work, all the sketches and trials gave them an insight into how thoughts, feelings and philosophies can be translated into visual art.

Sharing my creative process with others is part of my art practice. I always hope that people will find different ways of seeing and looking at our environment and forming deeper connections by doing so. I was very happy to hear from a friend who had come and visited on Saturday that she had since taken a walk along the river Dee and noticed all the ripples on the water surface, how they reflected the different colours of the surrounding landscape and from time to time allowed her to see what is beneath. “Just like in your paintings. I hadn’t seen that before.” Mission accomplished.

I would like to thank my fellow BAS9 ambassador Reema Shoaib, for filming a live stream interview during the event.

If you have missed my Open Studio event this will give a hint of what it was all about.

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