Gill Russell works with sound and light to create installations that explore and unsettle the sensory perceptions of the viewer, and her most recent exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy is no exception. Entitled ‘Uamh’, the works exhibited here were inspired by Russell’s visit to the Isle of Skye, where every year Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the centre for Gaelic language and culture, hosts a residency programme for artists interested in producing work informed by an engagement with Gaelic language, culture and environment.
Russell uses a cave, or uamh, as her inspiration, which is believed to be a religious and votive site, in particular for Celtic Earth Goddess Brigid, or the ‘Triple Goddess’, which provides an ideal setting for the three light sculptures in the exhibition. Although individual pieces they are also part of the larger installation; simultaneously distinct and connected.
As you enter the cave-like area of the RSA, you are immediately confronted by twisted blue-lit branches suspended from the ceiling, which suggest almost a helical DNA form. To its left, a womb-like orb encases an illuminated blue ovum, but the blue light adds an extra-terrestrial stance to it. The final piece, however, is the most intriguing of all; suspended feathers above a pile of bone-like antlers resting atop a dark spherical heap.
All three of the pieces, along with the accompanying sounds of ancient instruments, have been carefully considered, giving the exhibition an air of fragility. However, once inside the cave, the viewer’s perception of time is altered, as one gains an insight into the ancient rites of the past, but also another cosmic world.
Exhibition: Gill Russell: ‘Uamh’
Venue: Royal Scottish Academy
Dates: 1st - 30th January 2011
Originally published on The Journal website, 09/02/11