A partnership between Wasps and Marchmont Makers Foundation has given two artists the opportunity to be residents on the Marchmont House Estate in The Borders, spanning 10 March to 24 April.

Marchmont Makers Foundation is developing a hub for creators and makers in the region and is expanding its mission to support artists vision. Renovations began on the house in 2011. In 2019 the estate’s stables were converted to artist studios with the former early 20th century garage transformed into the Marchmont Workshop, for rush seat chair making in a long-standing tradition. Seven full-time artists and craftspeople work from Marchmont, with further expansion planned for the future.

Part of the Marchmont House estate includes the former studio of one of the 20th century’s most versatile creative figures, polymath Rory McEwan, best known for being a leading figure of the folk revival scene from the late fifties and later a pioneer of botanical and multimedia art. Ally Wallace and Vicki Fleck will have the privilege of working in Rory’s former studio in the village of Fogo, three miles from Marchmont House, during the residency.

Despite having received no formal graduate training in art, Rory McEwen became one of the most gifted botanical artists of any era. His artwork can be found in the collections of major institutions around the world. McEwen balanced a career as a folk musician with his devotion to art until he chose to become a full-time artist in 1964.

Co-winner of the Marchmont residency Vicki Fleck: ‘I am really excited to be part of the Marchmont House residency this year and am looking forward to spending time in Rory McEwen’s studio. I hope to have a daily programme of walking in the estate surrounding the House and returning to the studio to make pieces in response to findings and observations. My aim is to make a number of small pieces – paintings, drawings, embroidery, ceramic and textile pieces around the theme of embellishment and decoration, taking inspiration from local lichens and mosses. I am also excited to see and walk down the longest drive in Scotland!’

Vicki Fleck is an installation artist based in Glasgow who also works part time as a community gardener. She studied Environmental Art at Glasgow School of Art from 1999-2003 and since graduating has had residencies and exhibitions all over Scotland as well as in England, Italy, and Finland. Her work is an embodied response to the landscape; natural and manmade. She makes objects and installations using papier-mâché, ceramics, textiles, drawing, painting, and sound recordings. She often uses found materials such as plants and seeds, sheep’s wool, wood, and clay, and often materials that, if left on site, will change, break down or grow without harming or polluting the environment, but while still leaving a trace.

Capturing impermanent aspects of a landscape, like sound for example, as well as creating artworks that will decay over time are recurring urges; an interest in cycles of life, and entropy. She walks the landscape to find inspiration – the body moving through, or feeling within, a place. She tries to capture this visceral experience of awe or fear or comfort or any number of other emotions that might emerge as well as use aspects of the place’s physical, material reality, that can then act as souvenirs and memory prompts of places visited and experiences had. She currently has work at a community forest near Loch Arkaig in Lochaber and at the Never-ending Glen in Kelburn Estate, Fairlie, both outdoor exhibits (beech log people, and seed impregnated papier-mâché body casts, respectively) have been left to decompose, be occupied by, and become part of, the environment.

Co-winner of the Marchmont residency Ally Wallace: ‘I’m looking forward to arriving at Marchmont and for ideas to begin forming in response to the house and grounds. I intend to use the time to try something new and different in my work.’

Ally Wallace is an artist based in Glasgow. He works across a range of disciplines – including installation, drawing, painting, sculpture and video – to create artworks in response to chosen locations. His works are often exhibited in the spaces to which they relate. A central part of his recent practice has been to initiate his own residency projects, in situations that provide the subject matter for his work. Recent residencies have taken place in a wide range of locations, including an architect’s office, a hydro-electric power station and a football stadium. He is interested in architecture and in the relationship between buildings and their usage.

In addition to his self directed practice, he has also undertaken a number of large scale public art commissions over the years, mostly for new hospitals in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Brighton and Bristol. Throughout his career he has received major awards and has exhibited his work internationally. He graduated with BA (hons) in painting from Sunderland Polytechnic in 1985 and MA in Site-Specific Sculpture (with Distinction) from Wimbledon School of Art, in 1998.

Wasps Chief Executive Officer, Audrey Carlin: ‘This is the third year that Wasps and Marchmont have jointly offered this residency and it’s an honour to be in a position to continue to provide this wonderful opportunity. It’s such a beautiful, diverse and captivating part of the world, a location that has inspired numerous individuals to consider and create. We all wish Vicki and Ally a rewarding and enriching experience.’

Lucy Brown, Managing Director of Marchmont Makers Foundation: ‘Marchmont Makers Foundation is delighted to be working with Wasps to provide another opportunity for artists to spend time working from Fogo Cottage, where Rory McEwen had his studio. We are excited to see what Ally and Vicki explore during their residencies. Previous benefactors of the Wasps x Marchmont residency programme have taken great inspiration from their time here and we hope that our latest visitors have similar fruitful experiences.’

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