Air Iomlaid is a visual arts project linking children in Skye and Edinburgh. For the moving-image dimension of this ambitious project, Matt Hulse was invited on board as Co-Creative Director, to work alongside lead artist Julie Brook and to edit the film document (shot by Ian Dodds, produced by Rhianna Andrews at Young Films, with music by Hector MacInnes).
The 18-month long project began in March 2009 and opened up an exchange of ideas and techniques, exploring culture and language.
The project was developed by The Fruitmarket Gallery (Johnny Gailey) and led by artist Julie Brook along with Lasair Ealain, a committee of pupils from Bun sgoil Shlèite, a Gaelic-speaking primary school on Skye.
At the heart of the exhibition are several large scale, collective charcoal drawings and paintings, supported by a wealth of smaller studies and unrestricted access to participating pupils’ sketchbooks.
It’s hard to experience this awe inspiring body of work without reflecting on how one first experienced the making of art or drawing at school, and what might have been had one been lucky enough to have experienced teaching with this level of resource, commitment and drive.
The exhibition is enriched by an engaging and touching film that allows the viewer an opportunity to – as it were – sit alongside the children and witness ideas and drawings as they evolve. The struggle of the concentrated drawing process is etched in the furrowed brows of the children, who remain oblivious to the peering camera. Moments of revelation and resolution light up their faces with pride.
Air Iomlaid Nominated for 2011 Clore Museum Learning Award
It’s a rare thing when a gallery film sustains attention for more than a few minutes. It’s a testament to Dodds’ studiously beautiful footage and Hulse’s sensitive assembly of the material that a majority of gallery visitors remain engrossed for a full loop of 40′.
Alan Brown’s gem-like postcard films – anarchic montages of still and animated material produced by the children – add to the riches and bring an essential child-like irreverence and edgy energy to the whole.
The Fruitmarket produced a beautiful book to accompany the exhibition and the film will soon be available on DVD at the gallery.