InTheory Material Cultures MFA Study Residency

About Bowl


Earlier this year, during my residency at Timespan, I picked up a publication surrounding Corin Sworn’s Unsettling Provenance work. Interests fit into specific timelines sometimes. I’ve read this book previously, but it only resonated this week.

While in Helmsdale, Sworn organised Breakfast events.
This involved an invitation for members of the community to attend Timespan, bringing their own bowl, to dine together. Sworn had previously been involved in excavation activity in the area and was fascinated by the fragments of culinary objects uncovered. In Unsettling Provenance the artist photographs the towns people’s bowls as if they are archaeological finds. By placing the objects against black backdrops and giving them such attention of the lens, Sworn creates a ‘white cube situation’. She creates a context in which these objects can be perceived as valuable historical artefacts by the viewer.

They might well deserve this. A bowl is still a commonly used object and there’s obviously interest to be found in this concept, as well as the aged pieces. Cultural narrative is identified in the everyday and not only in what we deem a ‘relic’. When does an object become an artefact, then? And, what about the bowl?


Art/Writing Interests Residency Timespan Residency



Rachael Disbury & Jessica Ramm
sign that says ‘bog’, bog

Residency Timespan Residency

(Empty Land)

I’ve spent the last few weeks on residency with Timespan in Helmsdale. The focus of my culminating exhibition while there is The Flow Country. Located between Caithness and Sutherland, this area is referred to as the Empty Lands.

It is a large expanse of hugging moss and brown.

Densely populated, with no population. I saw a herd of deer.

(Empty Land)

(Empty Land)

 Type on trace, earth, moss, stones, tin, glass, Helix rulers, pencil on squared paper, fishing wire and bog recording

Grid View

Surface Detail

The same wry humour I get from a ‘blank’ document emblazoned with Blank Page comes to mind with Empty Lands.

Labelling an area with no human inhabitants as empty, ‘writing it off’, demonstrates a need to organise and contain the natural.

Grids and created structures were a recurring theme throughout my residency at Timespan.

Drystone walling became a Tetris like challenge of allotting shapes together into relationships of reliance. Amongst this there was learning of the rigid division of land after Highland clearances and the weight of territorial boundaries.

The culmination of findings and experiences was represented through a gridded platter of loaded objects.


Blank Page Doc.


Object Detail

Residency Timespan Residency

Day 10

We did it.

Remote Possibilities will be installed for the next two months at Timespan, Helmsdale.






Residency Timespan Residency

Day 9

Gallery is coming together.

Show pending.


(I’m Rachael, and I’m a conceptual artist.)

Residency Timespan Residency

Day 8

Theres a tension between the desperation to drink in my surroundings and the awareness of Friday’s work deadline.

The balance so far has been all right though. And they both inform each other.




Work has progressed naturally from the wealth of information provided by Timespan and the people of Helmsdale, and the freedom to go out and explore.

I’ve focused on an area referred to as the Empty Lands. There’s also representation of the things I’ve partaken in here, such as drystone walling, sunrise watching and beach clambering.

The next couple of days are GO to get everything prepped for Friday.

All days have been GO actually.



Drystone Walling and Ceal Floyers Helix fit right together in my mind’s mind. So this was happened.

Residency Timespan Residency

Day 7

Buckling down.

I’m getting a clearer idea of what this exhibition is going to look like.

Establishing and completing a project in a week and a half is intense.

But we’re on it.

Light Within

Jeff tells me that in Drystone Walling the pros insert a lightbulb within the structure. If their skills are that good, the bulb will remain intact.

Residency Timespan Residency

Day 6


Bog Walk15.35

Residency Timespan Residency

Day 5

Time to turn all this process into practice.

(empty) lands

(blank) page

The Flow country, in Caithness/Sutherland, is a rolling expanse of wetland. It is the largest blanket bog in Europe.

It is commonly referred to as empty lands.

Remote places in general seem to be perceived as empty lands.

Whats that, though?

Residency Timespan Residency

Day 4

Today was long and packed.

The morning saw a Photo Show of Helmsdale snaps from the 1950s. Elderly members of the community thoroughly enjoyed identifying faded faces and places for the audience.

The afternoon involved a try at Drystone Dyking. Fascinating. More to come on this.

Drystone Dyking
Jeff giving an introduction to Drystone

And in the evening it was arranged for us to view a screening of some of Timespans commissioned or responded films. Graham Fagen, Anthony Schrag and Dalziel and Scullion were amongst the collection.


Graham Fagen, Baile An Or, 2011

Between this there was popcorn and television a plenty.

Living in a nice house up here and having so much time to think of project ideas blurs the lines between work and leisure.

In a pleasant way.

Residency Timespan Residency

Day 3

I’m still getting a feel for this place.

Today was a bus day. (My eyes were peeled for projects.)

Helmsdale – Strath – Borgie Forest – Dunnet Head – John o’Groats

And then chips.



La Mirage is wonderfully kitsch. Even more wonderful is how blissfully unaware of itself it seems.

Residency Timespan Residency

Timespan Residency


I’m currently on residency in Helmsdale with Timespan. The next ten days will see intense learning and making for the exhibition opening on Friday 28th March.

The brief is related to ‘Remote Possibilities’. I’m in the right place.

With me are fellow ECA students Jessica Ramm, Suzanne van der Lingen, Freddie Thomas and Justine Lim.

Check it. and check back.