Su Grierson: Intersections

July 2013

Publication: The Times

This multi-media show by Perth-based artist Su Grierson has the advantage of being organised by a professional curator, Iliyana  Nedkova, who has paid careful attention to detail such as interpretation, presentation and layout. Although the venue has no dedicated gallery, this has worked to the advantage of this survey show of Grierson’s video, sculpture, digital prints and photographs.

 

Rather than being shown next to each other, where the viewing process can be disrupted by competing audio and visual elements, these pieces have been dispersed throughout the voluminous space afforded by this concert hall’s architecture, allowing a slow-paced consideration of the work.

 

Grierson graduated with a Master of Fine Art from Glasgow School of Art in 1995 as a mature student and, as if often the case in such circumstances, the artist has an intense and dedicated focus which extends not only to the work but also to the way it is presented, packaged and marketed. The interpretative panels are highly informative and well-written. A publication, with commentary by, amongst others, John Brennan, head of architecture at Edinburgh University, helps to contextualise the artist’s work and to provide a record of past projects, many undertaken internationally.

 

One of these, Marking Time, began in 1992 and involves the documentation of how people literally ‘mark’ trees. Grierson has commented that “in no other way do we so publicly and graphically declare our attitudes and intentions toward nature…”  The artist observes that the practice, which crosses international boundaries, can be for “medication, correction, protection, way finding, destruction or convenience,” adding that the trees also “carry social and territorial graffiti.”

 

This project is as good a way as any of finding one’s way into Grierson’s work. At its core is the relationship between humanity and nature, sometimes loving, sometimes dependent but often destructive and manipulative.

 

Grierson recently completed a residency project in Fukushima, Japan where she travelled to the disaster areas near the coast and observed nuclear, tsunami and earthquake damage at first hand. A 22-screen installation, Wave, showing still and video imagery conveys something of the multiple, layered, simultaneous impressions of landscape, people and architecture. A series of 6 lambda prints, Link, provides a companion piece, focusing on the unusually heavy snowfall in the winter of 2011, where only stark, delicate lines suggest human absence and a quiet repossession by nature.

 

There is a strong sense in this show, not only of Grierson’s achievement and determination to bring her artistic vision to a wider audience but also of her hunger for experimentation, her curiosity and her passion for the natural world and humanity’s impact upon it, for good or ill. In her work one senses not despair but a constant vigilance, an intelligence and, despite the apparently cold surfaces of her chosen media, a warmth and a humour that is essential, and essentially human.