Valentine Project 2014
The Valentine Project: Lisa Mackenzie, landscape architect, Victoria Clare Bernie, artist, John Darbyshire, ecologist and Fraser MacDonald, historical geographer.
The Valentine Project was commissioned as part of Imagining Natural Scotland, a project devised and supported by Creative Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the University of St. Andrews. Essays and images from the project were published in 'Imagining Natural Scotland' 2014 [David Griffiths, ed.] which was produced as part of The Year of Natural Scotland.
The Valentine Project
The Valentine Project is an exercise in graphic archaeology. A project to draw a singular line in an iconic landscape, to investigate and represent Glen Tilt in Highland Perthshire from the policies of the Atholl Estate at Blair, to the Falls of Tarf and the path north to the Lairig Ghru. Glen Tilt, a former drove road and a major artery through one of the most significant highland estates in Scotland, is also an extraordinary geological condition, the site of James Hutton’s Unconformity and the home to rare and endangered species of flora and fauna. It is a landscape that operates between the formal manicure of land management for tree cultivation, hunting, shooting and fishing and the informal but equally contrived design of the ‘almost wild,’ the carefully choreographed Victorian landscapes of paths and bridges, small-scale vignettes and destination wonders, waterfalls and forests, open hill and precipitous ravine.
The Valentine collection in the library of the University of St. Andrews includes some 50,000 topographic views, postcards and photographs of Scotland produced by Valentine & Sons of Dundee between the 1870s and 1960s. Amongst the collection, a suite of six images depict the journey up Glen Tilt from the south to the north, from the Witches’ Rock in the River Tilt at Blair to the Falls of Tarf in the Cairngorm National Park. For the Valentine Project these postcards operated as a script, a sequence of staged views along the Glen that offered a point of departure, a lens and a limit with which to frame the drawing out of the landscape beyond.
Working between the disciplines of visual art, landscape architecture, ecology and historical geography, between fieldwork, filmmaking and drawing, the Valentine Project set out to draw the Glen in deep time and in doing so to acknowledge the myriad overlapping systems at work in the landscape: history and geography, geology, ecology and climate. The hierarchies at play in the received history of the Glen and the stories lost to popular memory and the weave of human occupancy, dwelling and farming, a pastoral and military past.
The work of the Valentine Project comprises drawings, photographs and fieldnote films culminating in a folio of maps and observational drawings by Victoria Clare Bernie that ascend the Glen in line with the postcard views, a geophysical and anecdotal survey of the Glen from bedrock to rainfall, flight paths to temperature mapping and, a suite of investigative and propositional drawings by Lisa Mackenzie centring on the Falls of Tarf and the extraordinary collision of geological forces at its core.