Artist, singer, songwriter and producer Edwyn Collins is joined by three other artists, Donald Urquhart, Edward Summerton and Alec Finlay in the first of our series of exhibitions and events marking an Lanntair’s 25th anniversary. Eunadan : Aviary – as its title suggests, is themed around birds.
The main gallery features British Birds by Edwyn Collins, the former front-man for the seminal Scottish band Orange Juice, who also became a global music star as a solo artist. Almost exactly five years ago in February 2005, Collins suffered a life-threatening double brain haemorrhage. Unable to walk, read or write he began his own form of rehabilitation by drawing a bird every day. Each is titled and dated and maps the road to his recovery. The drawings were published in Some British Birds (Morel Books in 2009). The story of his illness and recovery is told in Falling and Laughing: The Restoration of Edwyn Collins by his wife Grace Maxwell (Ebury Press 2009).
Collins’ is in good company. For Bird of the Devil, Edward Summerton has over-painted bird-book illustrations creating new species such as the Brief Stint and the Blood Sucking Dunny Gull. These strange, hybrid fowls are reminiscent of the surrealist Max Ernst inflected with the offbeat wit of Ivor Cutler.
Donald Urquhart’s piece Ornithology is also not short on wit. His painted series of 10 small canvases bear the charming and creative phonetic transcriptions of bird calls from a 1920’s handbook. So that, in a sense, you can visualise the sounds.
And Alec Finlay’s Specimen Colony comprises formal diagrammatic layouts of avian plumage which can be folded into bird boxes. The selected species represented in the show are all indigenous to the Islands – Grey Heron, Black Throated Diver, Lapwing, Tern, Crow – with the exception of the Barn Owl, which like these 4 artists, is a visitor. Nest box concept: Alec Finlay, Nest box schemas designed by Jo Salter.