01 Jun 2021
Spotlight on: Stepping Stones at Loch Euphoirt by Rachel Duckhouse
We explore the work of Glasgow based visual artist Rachel Duckhouse, focusing on her 2020 piece ‘Stepping Stones at Loch Euphoirt’
In this article, we delve into the 2020 artwork ‘Stepping Stones at Loch Euphoirt’, by Glasgow based visual artist Rachel Duckhouse. As an artist, Duckhouse works primarily in printmaking and drawing. She mostly works on research-based projects which often culminate in process-led experiments in the print workshop. Rachel Duckhouse drawings predominantly explore patterns, structures and flows in specific landscapes or situations. She uses the processes of drawing and printmaking to respond to conversations with people as well as her observations and questions.
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Stepping Stones at Loch Euphoirt
Duckhouse’s landscape drawing is distinctive and often celebrates natural ephemera. For this particular work, she uses the monochrome and geometric patterning to full effect. Duckhouse made this series of works as a result of her experiences in the Outer Hebrides. Rachel spent time there as part of her Royal Scottish Academy Residency and was struck by these stones set in the landscape.
Duckhouse walked 156 miles of the Hebridean Way, from Vatersay to Stornoway, then spent two weeks in the studio at Taigh Chearsabhagh in Lochmaddy, North Uist. Whilst there she reflected on her experience of the landscape. The work depicts the tidal stepping stones used by crofters on the island of North Uist for their flock of sheep to cross. As such, it is a record of a traditional way of life.
The pen and ink drawing, with its strong geometric patterning, uses the line to depict movement of wind and water. This is as they move around these stones. The work therefore celebrates the natural elements. Similarly, Rachel conveys the strength of the wind on the sea. Which moves around the tidal stepping stones, powerfully in this drawing. As with much of Rachel’s work, the landscape drawing also touches on wider environmental concerns. These include rising water levels and the effects of global warming.
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Duckhouse completed her RSA Residency in Scotland, specifically in Taigh Chearsabhagh, North Uist. In response to this residency, Duckhouse showcased her drawings in her exhibition ‘Trusadh / A Gathering’. During her time in the residency studio, her reflections on her experience of the landscape informed her new drawings. With this intention, Duckhouse created her twelve pen and ink drawings from sketchbook studies made there. Her concerns were specifically with the threat of rising sea levels in the low lying islands. This is due to rapid global warming. While in North Uist, she went to a Gathering with local crofter Alastair Macdonald. She makes work inspired by the architectural structures and interventions made by crofters throughout the islands.
More recently, Duckhouse was invited by Worlding to be their first remote artist in residence. This took place in their new studio space in Elephant and Castle, London. So far, she has made drawings in response to the zoom conversations. These are bases on conversations she had with Joana P R Neves and Diogo Pimentao who’ve founded the project space.
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A Gathering (Come Bye)
‘A Gathering’ (Come Bye) is now open in the ground floor gallery of Glasgow Print Studio. The first showing of most of the drawings and etchings which were shown at Taigh Chearsabhagh in the Outer Hebrides. Duckhouse has since added ‘Come Bye’ to the original titles, which means ‘Go round the sheep clockwise’ in sheep gathering language. Works in the show include, Stepping Stones at Loch Euphiort ii, Vatersay Fank iv, Carraidh iii (detail), North Uist Sketchbook (detail), The gathering and Notes on sheepdog language. The exhibition is open to visit until May 29th 2021.