The Valentine Project

Witches Rock, Glen Tilt (JV-8028) Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/library/specialcollections/

Witches’ Rock, Glen Tilt (JV-8028) Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library
http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/library/specialcollections/

The Valentine Project is an exercise in graphic archaeology, an attempt to mine the complex questions of landscape, ecology and representation in Scotland through the device of drawing.  It seeks to unpack the familiar compositional tropes of the landscape postcard in Scotland through close collaboration with specialists in the field of ecology and historical geography, to examine issues of composition, subject and point of view, species genealogy, alien species allied to industrial resourcing, evidence of agriculture and land management and the inclusion and exclusion of ‘human detail’ in the sustained – and we would argue limiting – aesthetic of Scotland as a somehow ‘natural/found/wild land’ as opposed to a worked, cultivated, occupied and cherished landscape. The creative agenda of the project is the investigation and subsequent invention of a form of graphic representation able to both critique the somewhat jaded topographic view [postcard] and offer an alternative in the form of a graphic language sensitive to the detail of landscape evolution, occupation and ecological layering. A form of landscape representation awake to the realities of the human landscapes of Scotland and therefore equipped to represent alternative offerings, in effect to illuminate the other landscapes of Scotland that acknowledge the changing nature of dwelling – living and working – in the complex landscapes of a modern country. The project centres on a singular body of landscape representation, the photographic archive of J Valentine and Co., Dundee and within that archive the postcard collection of some 50,000 topographic views of Scotland made between 1898 and 1967 and held in the Libraries of St. Andrews University.

The Valentine Project deploys the specialist knowledge of Landscape Architecture, Visual Art, Ecology and Historical Geography in the exploration of a sequence of iconic landscape views. Through a process of investigation [fieldwork, dialogue and archive research] deconstruction [drawing, sampling, survey and documentation] and invention [drawing] the project seeks to define a new graphic language for the representation of landscape in Scotland. Our approach centres upon the development of a highly specialised drawing language that seeks to communicate the action and interaction of natural [biotic] and human [abiotic] factors upon the landscape. Our output is intended as a counter-tactic to the limiting conventions of landscape representation, an alternative image able to engage citizens with landscape and stewardship. A visual language at once beautiful and revelatory informed by scientific rigour and tempered by creative invention.

The team:

Lisa Mackenzie, Landscape Architect

Victoria Clare Bernie, Visual Artist

John Darbyshire, Ecologist

Fraser MacDonald, Historical Geographer

Acknowledgement The major archive of monochrome topographical views by James Valentine & Sons is held by the University of St Andrews Library. For further details of this collection please contact the Library, or refer to http://www.standrews. ac.uk/library/specialcollections/

The Valentine Team

Lisa Mackenzie, John Darbyshire, Fraser MacDonald at the Witches' Rock. Copyright Mackenzie-Bernie

Lisa Mackenzie, John Darbyshire, Fraser MacDonald at the Witches’ Rock. Copyright Mackenzie-Bernie

Lisa Mackenzie, Landscape Architect

Lisa Mackenzie is a Senior Lecturer in the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) at The University of Edinburgh. Lisa is a practicing Landscape Architect and formalised her own small and specialised practice Lisa Mackenzie Consultancy in 2006.  Recent projects move through the scales to challenge the perceptions of Landscape Architecture.  Her work ranges from Campus masterplans to performance spaces, public art commissions and strategies.  In her research, practice and teaching Lisa seeks to understand the role, function and significance of landscape in both urban and rural situations.

Victoria Clare Bernie, Visual Artist

www.victoriaclarebernie.com

Victoria Clare Bernie is a visual artist working with video, photography and drawing. Operating between video micro-landscapes [cinebiology] and narratives of science and stewardship [public information films] she spends much of her time in the “Caledonian Peripheries.” A region designated by Duncan Petrie in Screening Scotland, as a site of cinematic enquiry throughout the history of film in Scotland. Fieldwork, walking, talking and recording, studio-based drawing and editing are the key figures in her practice. She spends a portion of any year ‘talking to strangers’, trying to understand something of a landscape through the stewardship of others. The rest of the year she edits and draws. Working independently and in collaboration Victoria has investigated the potential of cross-disciplinary practice with architects, marine and freshwater scientists, ecologist, prawn fishermen and mountain path menders. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. In 2008-9 Victoria was the Leverhulme Trust artist in residence at SAMS Marine Institute in Argyll, the work from this project being exhibited in 2011 in a solo exhibition, Slow Water, at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow.

John Darbyshire, Ecologist

John Darbyshire is an experienced field ecologist and report author, and a specialist in habitat assessment, ornithological (Breeding Bird Survey, species survey, vantage point), and protected mammal work.  His background includes nine years as the Senior Ranger/Naturalist at the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve, New Lanark (1991-1999).  There, as part of a wide remit, he developed and implemented Management Plans for 4 SSSI sites (proposed SAC, proposed World Heritage Site) including habitat assessment and restoration.  He developed and ran Monitoring and Protection programmes for protected species, including rare plants and peregrine protection, designed and supervised Undergraduate Research Projects, and developed and implemented Environmental Education and Recreation Programmes.

Fraser MacDonald, Historical Geographer

“Stories are what motivate me; they help me think about the world. My academic work is largely a bid to tell stories with greater analytic intent. As an historical geographer, I am interested in how our knowledge of the past inheres in landscapes; and how narrative, knowledge and technology take place. Much of my work is concerned with Scottish lives and landscapes, particularly those in the Outer Hebrides. My current project is a history of rocket technology, from early mail rocket experiments in the 1930s through to the testing of the world’s first nuclear missile. Rockets interest me because they are vehicles of both transcendence and mass destruction – the embodiment of the twentieth century. Other objects of enquiry include: ruins, toys, birds, prehistory, folklore, topography, visual culture, science and war. Educated at the Universities of Glasgow and Oxford, I was a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen (1999-2003) and then lecturer and senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne, Australia (2004-2010). I now teach at the University of Edinburgh.” – See more at: http://www.frasermacdonald.com

Victoria Bernie at the Falls of Tarf. Copyright Mackenzie-Bernie

Victoria Bernie at the Falls of Tarf. Copyright Mackenzie-Bernie

Landscape Practice Archive Worlds

Lisa Mackenzie, Victoria Bernie, University of St Andrews, Library, Special Collections

Lisa Mackenzie, Victoria Bernie, University of St Andrews, Library, Special Collections

 

Falls of Tarf, Glen Tilt (JV-A-3406) Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/library/specialcollections/

Falls of Tarf, Glen Tilt (JV-A-3406) Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library
http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/library/specialcollections/

Fieldwork Survey

Lisa Mackenzie, John Darbyshire, Fraser MacDonald - Fieldwork Glen Tilt.  Copyright Mackenzie - Bernie

Lisa Mackenzie, John Darbyshire, Fraser MacDonald – Fieldwork Glen Tilt. Copyright Mackenzie – Bernie

Fieldwork Performance

Falls of Tarf to Blackbridge: Whorled Solomons Seal, micro-macro-climates, juniper trees.  Copyright Mackenzie - Bernie

Falls of Tarf to Blackbridge: Whorled Solomons Seal, micro-macro-climates, juniper trees. Copyright Mackenzie – Bernie

Pine Martin Scat. Copyright Mackenzie - Bernie

Pine Martin Scat. Copyright Mackenzie – Bernie

Drawing Practice

Valentine Project Locations.  Copyright Lisa Mackenzie

Valentine Project Locations. Copyright Lisa Mackenzie

Landscape Designations - rough working.  Copyright Lisa Mackenzie

Landscape Designations – rough working. Copyright Lisa Mackenzie

Falls of Tarf, Tuesday 9 July 2013. Copyright Victoria Bernie

Falls of Tarf, Tuesday 9 July 2013. Copyright Victoria Bernie

Falls of Tarf.  Copyright Victoria Bernie

Falls of Tarf. Copyright Victoria Bernie

Falls of Tarf.  Copyright Victoria Bernie

Falls of Tarf. Copyright Victoria Bernie