Highland Creatives is a dynamic art exhibition at Inverness Airport, celebrating artists who have built their creative careers in the Highlands Their journeys have been inspired, nurtured and supported by studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands, and working from a Wasps studio. In Wasps’ second presentation of Highland Creatives, current exhibiting artists are Rachel Fermi, Martin Irish, Robbie Mackintosh, Matt Sillars, Izzy Thomson, and Yelena Visemirska.
University of the Highlands and Islands is proud to be a different type of university. Across the Highlands and Islands region, its centres of excellence and world-class thinking are pushing the boundaries of academic and applied knowledge.
The University’s creative industries portfolio is wide ranging and includes courses in music, art, film making, fashion and textiles, creative writing, drama and production, musical theatre, visual communication and design, and more. If you’re interested in getting your creative career off the ground, visit the online prospectus.
Inverness Creative Academy is Wasps’ new home for art and creativity in the Highlands, opening to the public in 2021. We have studio and flexible co-working space available for artists, makers, designers, creative freelancers and larger cultural organisations. Working in an inspiring, supported space alongside fellow creators could really make a positive difference to your professional journey, and to your practice. As Scotland’s national provider of artists’ studios, Wasps also provides creative spaces in Nairn, Orkney, Shetland, Skye, Perth, Aberdeen, Dundee, Newburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Irvine, Selkirk, and Kircudbright. Explore the Wasps website for more information and availability.
Rachel Fermi currently teaches art, photography and digital imaging at the University of the Highlands and Islands. She applies computational photography techniques to the genre of Highland landscape. The images on display are from a romantic science fiction series of photographs called Minor planets.
Martin Irish is an artist based in the Highlands of Scotland. Although the majority of his works are abstract in nature, he describes his pieces as being imbued with a mood and atmosphere, somewhere between lightness and darkness. Irish primarily creates with mixed media, acrylics, oils, and spray paint on canvas.
“I am an artist on a journey of self-discovery. I invite the viewer to join me, in the hope they will discover some connection with what they see before them.”
As an artist who is a Christian, Robbie, a recent graduate from Moray School of Art UHI, is seeking primarily to develop and portray the relationships between the world which is seen and that which is not seen, the spiritual and the natural. In a similar way that 20th century painter Robert Rauschenburg sought to bridge the gap between his art and life Robbie uses found objects and a combination of sculpture and painting alongside a mode of abstraction to create a way of seeing with the intention to give people a channel to relate the two spheres without putting spirituality into a separate category to their life here on earth.
The artist views this approach as partly evangelistic, but also for believers too who might perhaps see possibilities which they never considered before. The works are intended to be objective but also use elements of the subjective and the realm of the senses to achieve the aforementioned goal.
“‘Tissue of Lies’ refers to the easily demolished lie of privilege based on ‘natural order’, and to my understanding of the historical meaning of the phrase. Silk was originally known as a ‘tissue’ and a ‘tissue of lies’ alludes to its dense weave, and lies which are difficult to penetrate and untangle.
The tissue in each photograph acts as a visual metaphor, exploring identity as multi layered and complex. This looks to the idea that the narratives of legitimacy and privilege we weave are not natural but constructed around power, authority and control.
This collection of photographs uses torn tissue and paper barriers to draw attention to the artificial construction of difference; that all identity is manufactured and what seems natural is ideological. The construction of the Other is a falsehood.
In light of recent campaigns against inequality I hope that this work contributes to the debates on the misuse of power in the post truth world.”
“I am a visual artist and I make paintings based on remembered experiences from the landscapes I have visited, mostly around Scotland and the North. In the studio, I reconstruct the topographies of those places to tell the story of our wilder world.
Like peering out to sea from the edge of a cliff, my paintings are the meeting place of two worlds.Often painted with a crepuscular palette, they have the language of a dream one has just awoken from, and feel like imagined yet inhabitable spaces. Like stage-sets, they act as a device: an invitation into a ‘tapsalteerie’ world, where one finds characters who are impervious to their environment amidst leaning lumps of land and unsettled seas.
As well as their fairy-tale like allure, my works are rooted in reality. They are a way to bring two worlds together – the real and the imagined/the human and the non-human – in the hope of rekindling what is, perhaps, a misplaced familiarity and sensitivity to our natural world.”
Izzy Thomson graduated from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen in 2016, with a First Class BA (Hons) in Painting. She was then selected for the year-long Graduate Residency at Leith School of Art in Edinburgh. Izzy then returned to the Highlands and now works from her studio in Wasps Inverness Creative Academy. Izzy has won several awards, which recently includes a self-directed residency, funded by the Visual Artist and Craft Makers Award 2021. This award enabled research into how to make paintings about the Cromarty Firth – its biodiversity, history, and folklore – using sustainable and biodegradable oil painting pigments and materials. To compliment her painting practice, Izzy has worked across set design, illustration and book making. She was also invited to paint a mural at the City Museum of Skopje, North Macedonia. Izzy has recently graduated from a funded place on Aardman Academy’s Stop Motion One Course.
“Through my latest series of images I aim to explore the relationship that we, as technologically evolved human beings, have with the greater natural world. In an age where we are experiencing an ever greater separation from our natural, primal domain, I feel it is important to attempt to merge these two worlds in order to bring back a sense of belonging that we have lost through the separation of man and wilderness.
Through the creative process I have gravitated towards the memories of places I have travelled and explored. Places that have impacted me for better or for worse. Those places that have left an emotional imprint upon my being; from dirty, inner-city, back-streets to pristine Scottish, West Coast beaches, Croatian seascapes and Georgian mountain tops. My art allows me to process and express these memories and thoughts, many of which I have carried with me, on the inside, my whole life.
In an age where we see an ever growing positive shift towards animal rights and climate change activism, my goal is to gain a clearer understanding of the human experience in relation to the natural world. Through my art I am attempting to keep us connected too, and mindful of the flora and fauna that is so important for a healthy human experience – from natural forests to industrial landscapes – I want people to consider what this means to them. What does nature mean and why is the integration between it and us so important for our health on both a global, individual and planetary level? By merging amazing exteriors with relaxing interior design I have created a feeling of symbiotic harmony between these vastly contrasting worlds; a reuniting of our once coexisting habitats that are so rapidly being lost between the digital lines of tech and an all pervasive sense that we have gone much too far, that we simply can’t go back… Or can we?
Yelena Visemirska was born in Latvia in 1984, and moved to Inverness in 2018. She graduated with a BA in Fine Art from the University of the Highlands and Islands in 2014. Yelena has been a tenant at Inverness Creative Academy since its artist studios opened in 2018. Yelena’s work considers the relationship between natural and man-made landscapes, and the way in which memories of wild spaces emerge when our bodies are placed within urban environments.