North AiR artist selected
posted by Erich Berger on 14 March 2019

Scotland-based artist George Ridgway and Finland-based artist Maija Annikki Savolainen have been selected through an open call to undertake a new and innovative residency programme set up by North AiR, a research network of six organisations spanning Scotland and Finland, supported by the Finnish Institute in London. The artists will participate in the network’s pilot residency, North AiR: Expanding Entanglements, which aims to reconsider conventional artist exchange models and question the role of artists’ residency in this time of climate breakdown.

The artists will travel by land and sea to the partner organisations in the respective countries -  Scottish Sculpture Workshop (SSW), Taigh Chearsabhagh and Timespan in Scotland; Mustarinda, Bioart Society and KulttuuriKauppila Art Centre in Finland. The artists will research within local ecosystems and landscapes for one month at each location, for a sustained period of three months in 2019.

On being selected, George Ridgway said that “I’m extremely honoured and excited to be invited into this programme. My practice is deeply intertwined with how we relate to expanded notions of place and their ecological webs. This international opportunity will allow me to learn from multiple new locations and ecologies.”, while Maija Annikki Savolainen stated that “... the system of artists working in residencies can create economical and psychological precarity in which long-term planning becomes impossible. This residency supports artists’ work economically and spiritually; it’s a unique opportunity and I am very much looking forward to working in the Scottish landscape”

This significant residency pilot does not seek final outcomes or artworks, rather applied and expansive research by the artists. Utilising innovative, embodied methodologies and situated research/process-based enquiries, as demonstrated in Maija and George’s practices to date, the programme is unprecedented in its direct response and action around urgent issues within an international context.

The partners are located within distinctive ecosystems in Scotland and Finland. In Scotland, Scottish Sculpture Workshop (SSW) in the foothills of the Grampian Mountains and close to the Cairngorms National Park, Taigh Chearsabhagh with the University of the Highlands and Islands on the Isle of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides and Timespan in Helmsdale, a coastal village in East Sutherland at the mouth of River Helmsdale and the North Sea. In Finland, Ars Bioartica organised by the Bioart Society Helsinki in subarctic Lapland/Sápmi, KulttuuriKauppila Art Centre at the confluence of the River li and the Gulf of Bothnia, and Mustarinda, surrounded by old-growth forest extending from the borders of the Paljakka Strict Nature Reserve.

All partners foster long term enquiries into their role and response-ability within the ecological crisis and together this network and pilot residency programme looks towards a post-fossil future with a trans disciplinary approach.

North AiR: Expanding Entanglements is supported by the network partners and the Finnish Institute in London. Following the residency period, George Ridgway and Maija Savolainen will present their research and experiences alongside network partners as part of a public event in November 2019 at the Finnish Institute in London.

Statements of involved organisations:

“The Bioart Society’s Ars Bioartica residency programme has worked for 10 years with artists who have a keen interested in the environment and the changes in it. This has led us to feel an urgency in considering how residencies in these times of ecological crisis can find new ways to collaborate and create new models of working. North AiR is the perfect opportunity for us to collaborate with a group of highly professional organisations and artists across borders.” Piritta Puhto, Curator/ Senior Producer, Bioart Society

“We are proud to be building on the legacy of successful partnerships with our Finnish friends and partners, including Frontiers in Retreat and the Mobius Fellowship with the Finnish Institute in London. We wholeheartedly believe in the urgency of this enquiry in our uncertain times and believe it vital to cement both our local and international relationships at this time. We are excited to work with artists George Ridgway and Maija Annikki Savolainen to collaboratively form this programme.” Sam Trotman, Director, Scottish Sculpture Workshop

“This timely, critically important and questioning project paves the way for more sustainable models of artist exchange in the future. We look forward to working with all the partner organisations and artists. This project is a perfect example of Finnish-Scottish collaboration and we are very happy to support it.” Jaakko Nousiainen, Head of Arts and Culture at the Finnish Institute in London

Image of Lake Saana in Kilpisjärvi, Lapland/Sápmi Finland by Björn Kröger