2011 Festival

Jonathan Baxter & Sarah Gittins
If there were anywhere but desert …

The title of this exhibition was taken from a poem by Edmond Jabès. The preceding line reads, ‘I would now celebrate trees’. Between these two sentences Jonathan and Sarah situate their practice and in the context of Cupar Arts Festival provided a space for reflection. Drawing attention to the perennial themes of movement and belonging, homelessness and place, they explore issues which include food sustainability and contemporary agricultural practices. How this related to a market town such as Cupar was at the heart of their concern.

Cupar Arts Festival 2011, Sarah Gittins & Jonathan Baxter

Richard Demarco
Small and Secret Places

Widely recognised as one of the outstanding draughtsmen of his generation, Richard Demarco produced a wonderful series of drawings of some of the historic closes of Cupar and related them to the closes of the Old Town in Edinburgh and to similar features in his family home town of Picinisco, south of Rome. In so doing he “drew attention” to Cupar’s closes as they are today, asking us to cherish them with the same love and attention that the capital has bestowed on its own ‘small and secret places’. In addition to his well-received exhibition, Richard Demarco also presented “An Evening With Richard Demarco” at which included his own illustrated talk, and an audience with storyteller and balladeer, Arthur Watson.

Richard Demarco at Cupar Arts Festival

Kate Downie
Public Artwork, Exhibition, and Durational Drawing Event

Kate Downie was one of the festival’s Invited Artists. Born in North Carolina and trained at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, she lives and works in Edinburgh. Best known for drawing, printmaking and painting, Downie explores themes of borders, barriers, crossings, shorelines, un-named places, tourist icons, and roads. Her exhibition in the main hall of the old school on Millgate comprised a series of sketches for her live drawing event “Matchmaker” along with earlier works, some of which were shown in the space as large-scale projections. In the outside courtyard of the old school, Kate also created an evocative painting of elements of the town on the blank wall surface.

KATE DOWNIE at Cupar Arts Festival

Joanna Foster
Ticket Line / Just Passing Through

Joanna Foster adapted the waiting room at Cupar Railway Station to cater for the mental state of waiting, with an invitation to participate in an interactive exhibition. Foster describes the waiting room as a place of potential in which to share the unwritten maps we carry with us, a meeting point which also reflects a historical change in movement with the coming of the Railway and present day narratives coming in and out of Cupar, forming a living history. Using the structure of the ticket, this project invited people to draw or write a snapshot of their day’s travel experience and thoughts on waiting, then add their ticket to a line in the waiting room. As a starting point for this continually growing and evolving exhibition, Joanna installed in the waiting room drawings and screenprints inspired by her own journey into Cupar.

Joanna Foster at Cupar Arts Festival

Tom Harrup & Deniz Uster
Finger to a blind eye

Chad McCail
Level Wages / Even Rations

With the political spectrum so highly compressed and elected leaders functioning as managers for the financial markets, mainstream political debate isn’t really worth listening to. The young, finding no-one to represent their views and feeling disenfranchised and frustrated, begin to act beyond the law en masse. Unless discussion broadens to include different visions and possibilities the slow-motion breakdown looks likely to accelerate. My intention is simply to try to widen any debate about what is possible by proposing a different vision.

Fiona McGarva

Labour-intensive flax-spinning and linen manufacture was extensive in Cupar and the surrounding area through the 18th and 19th centuries with the majority of weavers working from home. This exhibition, with took its title from the Latin word meaning “linen thread, string, or cord” drew attention to an aspect of Cupar’s rich local history through an evocative series of installations in the former Fishers laundry building on Kirk Wynd. Fiona McGarva uses a variety of glass techniques (blowing, flameworking, kiln forming, gilding, cold working) to create mixed-media glass sculpture, lighting and tableaux based on microscopic worlds and hybrid creatures.

Gayle Nelson & Fiona McDonald

This collaborative work which was installed in the grounds of Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse is a tribute to the Scots poet Edwin Morgan who died last year. The viewer is encouraged to think about the passage of time and the sense of a continuation of some things. The text used in the piece is taken from Edwin Morgan’s poem ‘The Bench’. This was one of several artworks installed for the first time during the Cupar Arts Festival at the Hill of Tarvit. Gayle Nelson and Fiona McDonald have collaborated on a number of installation and performance works.

Judy Spark
Tuning To Ether

Judy Spark explores the contrasts and parallels that exist in our experience of alienating technological culture and nature, where we are no longer fully comfortable with either. There are fascinating facts about Cupar’s relationship with technology to be found in the town’s history including one of the town’s “listening stations” run by the Foreign Office which existed at Hawklaw, just outside Cupar, for the purpose of gathering transmitted material to be examined by the code-breakers at Bletchley Park. In conducting further enquiry into this and other apparently little-known aspects of Cupar’s place in radio/telephone history, an interesting backdrop to present-day Cupar was formed, more easily connected by the forests of TV aerials, masts, satellites, digital networks, and wireless technologies that characterize, and sometimes frustrate, contemporary life. It was hoped that the work would add another dimension to the experience of both Cupar residents and visitors alike, while shedding some light on the range of ideas it explored. Judy’s research and work formed an installation in Cupar’s County buildings which was installed in the landing area and the JP Courtroom.

Judy Spark at Cupar Arts Festival

A full list of participating artists can be found here