Owners of the Soil: Will Maclean and Shaun Fraser
The Fine Art Society presents Owners of the Soil, an exhibition of work by Will Maclean and Shaun Fraser, examining ties between land, identity and ownership through the early Scottish diaspora’s dual identity of colonised and coloniser.
Maclean’s boxed constructions, collages and drawings recount the experiences of six residents of Polbain, Ross-shire. Each one, a native Gaelic speaker, was born in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and it was an accepted part of their lives that they would have to leave their homes to find a living in the south or overseas. His boxed constructions house artefacts that are detached narratives of each person’s life, looking at the ways that cultures can themselves become cargo.
Fraser’s works in glass, bronze, ink and print focus on Nova Scotia, an area dominated by Scottish settlements with place names that displaced First Nation Mi’kmaq titles. Maritime Canada’s strong historic bond with the Scottish Highlands is profoundly reflected in the dominance of names which mirror those in Scotland; Uigg, Iona, New Perth, Argyle Shore, Inverness, Stornoway. He explores the attachment to place and questions who these areas belong to. Incorporating peat and organic matter, Fraser’s work holds an innate link to the locality upon which it draws.