The Visitors - Anne Brodie | Yael Rosenblut

October 2009

Publication: Northings

The Visitors - Anne Brodie | Yael Rosenblut


The Ice House in Helmsdale has been described as the town’s  ‘monumental deep freeze’. It once acted as a store for the salmon catch from the Helmsdale river and, as its name implies, as a storage facility for ice which was ‘harvested’ from a shallow pond above the building and funelled into the structure form above. The building’s other incarnations have included its use as a fish and chip shop. Now the impressive double-vaulted chamber acts a venue for the last in a series of three double-sited works which mark the end of Ruth Macdougall’s two-year residency at Timespan as artist and youth arts curator for Ruth Macdougall.


Over the years the gallery-going public have become used to ever-expanding of art where it seems almost nothing can be excluded in terms of subject matter, medium, context, propriety or content. The list of ‘improbable’ methods and subjects is limited only by the imagination of the exponents and, often, by the tolerance, gullability or vision (depending on one’s point-of-view) of the relevent funding body.


Such thoughts occur on first encountering the work of the lens-based artists here, Anne Brodie and Yael Rosenblut. Both during a short double residency have produced work which although it is derived from and exploratory of the immediate cultural and physical locale does so using methodolgy and media which challenges preconceptions about what art ‘should’ be.


Brodie has focussed (in all senses of the term) on the work of a local fish dealer and smokehouse run by father and son Sandy and Alexander Cowie,who “represent the current thin layer of Helmsdale's once rich fishing industry.” Brodie has spent time as a salmon farmer on the West coast of Scotland, and more recently as an artist in residence with the British Antarctic Survey. Both of these experiences have informed her approach here.