A century after the Scottish Enlightenment, Patrick Geddes made clear the complex and inter-related relationships between humans and their environment. His thinking is particularly relevant today in discussion about sustainable societies. Geddes – a scientist, botanist and urban planner – understood even then that industrial development, if left unchecked, would damage the air, water and land upon which all life relies. In his words, ‘care of Mother Earth’ is the prime task of man...
Geddes’ philosophy is also skillfully reflected – without moralising – in the works of Callender and Cass, while Calleja’s art is given form by his acute perception of both our inner and outer world … And in this wasteful world, it is a great achievement by these three artists, that they all use recycled materials to create their art. An art with special illuminating powers. I am full of admiration for what they have achieved and with such modest means.
Elizabeth Ogilvie, 19.7.19
The full text of Elizabeth Ogilvie’s opening address at the preview of As Coastline is to Ocean on 19 July 2019 can be downloaded here.
All images copyright © 2019 the artist
Joseph Calleja (Gozo, 1981) and David Cass (Edinburgh, 1988) are connected by an enthusiasm for working with found materials. The two have maintained a creative dialogue over the past decade, since sharing studios whilst studying at Edinburgh College of Art. As Coastline is to Ocean features new, unseen works by Cass and Calleja; alongside seminal pieces by Robert Callender (1932—2011), who was selected by the artists to give a third voice to the exhibition.
Through Callender’s highly acclaimed sculpted shoreline artefacts, Cass’ found-object based coastline series and Calleja’s reconfigured picture frames, the exhibition offers artistic portrayals of both physical and metaphorical coastlines.
Calleja invites us to tunnel through the Earth to reach the gallery’s exact opposite geo-location (equidistant between New Zealand and Antarctica). Cass invites us to participate in a survey to determine the level of sea rise in our birthplaces across our lifetimes. Callender provokes us into looking twice at his perfectly crafted flotsam. And running in parallel with As Coastline is to Ocean is the micro-exhibition Coast, which originated from an open call and features artworks by twenty artists, on the topic of coastal change.
Over the last few years Cass’ work has become increasingly concerned with environmental issues related to water. From explorative works created in drought-zones, to illustrative projects focussed on flooding. His current works refer to rising sea levels, and in this exhibition Cass is looking specifically at coastal change.
Calleja takes a more anthropological approach to the project: meditating on the interdependence and links between the found-object, its history and essence. During a recent An Talla Solais residency, Calleja produced a series of artworks exploring the importance of the peripheral in art. This concept formed the foundation of the collaboration. For these artists, what is “at the edge” has been placed centre stage.