Dalziel + Scullion: Tumadh | Immersion
Experimental textiles encourage engagement with the natural world at the Edinburgh Art Festival
This article is from 2014.
Within the relatively sterile dimensions of Dovecot Studios, there is a sense of the exterior, of wind in faces and rain in hair. The figures in the centre of the room are properly dressed for the kind of imagined inclement weather we might associate with the Highlands, however. A small boy wears a long smock with a rubber collar to insulate his body from the rain even as his hair and face are free to wash in it. A woman’s coat has a large hood across her shoulders which apparently allows her to curl up into a boulder-resembling shape and observe her surroundings. A man’s jacket contains compartments for collecting flora.
Each of these speculative garments has been designed and rendered by Dalziel + Scullion in Harris Tweed, giving them distinctiveness unique to Scotland. On one level they’re playful but craftily considered future iterations of walking wear, but on the other, their specific uses and manufacture build up to a kind of textile psychogeography of northern Scotland. A tension exists between the airs of traditional classicism and futurism their designs bear. The ‘Victorian Walking Dress’ is the most dazzling and least practical thing here, a long outcrop of a train designed to slow the wearer down and help them appreciate their surroundings.
This sense of slowing to experience nature is central to the work, as illustrated by a diptych of wall quotes from environmental philosopher David Abram. The exhibition’s second room brings that sensation home in a somewhat simulated manner. Brightly projected cloud formations of ‘Air’ allow the viewer to contemplate the sky under cover and the inertia of ‘Conglomerate’s arrangement of delicately patterned gneiss rocks from Lewis, arranged on a metal frame counteracting the dramatic revelation that they’re four billion years old.
Dovecot Studios, 550 3660, until Sat 13 Sep, free.