Mapping the Sea: Barra. Stephen Hurrel

Stephen Hurrel’s Sea Change commission, Mapping the Sea: Barra, will feature in an installation at Timespan Museum and Art Gallery, Helmsdale. Stephen is one of the artists for Generation – Scotland’s largest ever art show –  involving 100 artists in 60 venues, coinciding with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Generation is produced by Glasgow Life and National Galleries of Scotland (NGS). Mapping the Sea: Barra is part of Stephen Hurrel’s  three-part North Sea Hitch exhibition at Timespan (5 – 29 July), and is followed by an exhibition of New Work (2 – 31 August).

Two Screen image of Calum A’ Chal and Lighthouse Lens

Mapping the Sea: Barra is a video installation by artist Stephen Hurrel that draws on local knowledge of uncharted coastal and maritime topography around Barra. This audio-video installation is a response to the collecting stage of a collaborative project with social ecologists Ruth Brennan (SAMS) and Iain MacKinnon (Scottish Crofting Federation), and Barra fishermen. A three screen video and sound installation was presented within an empty shop on the main street of Castlebay, in August 2012. This research-based, oral collecting project resulted in a free full-colour publication, Dùthchas na Mara/Dúchas na Mara/Belonging to the Sea (Authors: Ruth Brennan and Iain Mackinnon, Photography: Stephen Hurrel). An electronic version of the book Dùthchas na Mara is available on-line at:
Creeling with Domhnall Uilleam MacLeod/Coppertop, Barra

The publication was launched and distributed to local people at Barra Community Hall on 15 August 2012. Dùthchas na Mara/Dúchas na Mara/Belonging to the Sea explores the roots of maritime conflict over fisheries and marine conservation on Gaelic-speaking islands in Scotland and Ireland and is published in English, Irish and Scottish Gaelic, with translations by Rody Gorman. The project is supported by Colmcille, Scottish Association for Marine Science and Scottish Crofting Federation. ‘Our research suggests that at the heart of these beliefs and conduct is a particular Gaelic expression of a feeling that is universally potential in human beings: the sense of belonging to a home place, and of responsibility for that place. In the Gaelic context, this feeling – described by the great Scottish Gaelic scholar John MacInnes as a form of ’emotional energy’ – is encapsulated by the not easily translateable word ‘dúchas’ (in Irish) or ‘dùthchas’ (in Scottish Gaelic).’ (Iain Mackinnon, Ruth Brennan) As a single publication could not contain the knowledge and information gathered through the research process, Hurrel and Brennan decided to develop a larger scale project in association with local organisation Voluntary Action Barra & Vatersay (VABV).  This new project, titled ‘Sea Stories – a mapping the sea project on Barra’, further explores the intimate relationship between people and place and seeks to make visible the rich cultural knowledge that exists in the seas around Barra. It is being developed as a digital online map, so that the many layers of cultural knowledge can be stored, accessed and shared in a visually interesting, interactive format. Sea Stories has been funded by Creative Scotland’s ‘First In A Lifetime Award’ and the online version of Sea Stories will launch in September 2013. Stephen Hurrel studied sculpture at Glasgow School of Art and is currently based in Glasgow. He works with various contexts to produce temporary and permanent site-specific installations. He utilizes digital and analogue media. His areas of interest include an investigation of ‘feedback’, ‘self-generating systems’ and ‘unconscious gestures’ – whether naturally occurring or man-made. He is interested in how different languages – artistic, cultural, technological, scientific – can intersect to create new forms. “By exploring these intersections I aim to create instances of a co- existence between a ‘natural state’ and a ‘constructed state’. I feel this more complex ‘state of co-existence’ to be a more accurate representation of how we perceive, and how we relate to, our environment(s) in the twenty-first century.” Stephen was the recipient of a SAC Creative Scotland Award that enabled him to explore ideas around ‘art and ecology’ and ‘a technological sublime’ and to work with a computer programmer over a two-year period. Beneath and Beyond – A Seismic Sounds Installation was the outcome of this award. It was exhibited at Tramway as part of Glasgow International Visual Art Festival 2008, toured Australia 2009–2010 and showed at Pixxelpoint International New Media Art Festival, Slovenia and Italy in December 2010. +  

Current Exhibition

5 – 29 July, 2014

North Sea Hitch by Stephen Hurrel

part of GENERATION : 25 years of Contemporary Art in Scotland Timespan
Daily 10am – 5pm

Mapping the Sea: Barra is the second in a series of three exhibitions by Stephen Hurrel at Timespan:
(i) Dead Reckoning: Exhibition 8 June – 1 July
(ii) Mapping the Sea: Barra: Exhibition 5-29 July (Preview and North Sea Stories panel discussion, Fri 4 July, 7pm)
(iii) New work: Exhibition 2-31 August (Special Opening event and premiere of new residency work, Fri 1 August, 6pm)

+ More information

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  1. Kathy Barber says:

    Sounds great, can’t wait to see it.

  2. […] Barra As part of Cape Farewell's Sea Change commissions, artist Stephen Hurrel – along with two social ecologists – has been collecting stories, and 'mapping the sea'  information  from the older fishermen on Barra, who have been writing directly onto photocopied maps, this process has been recorded on video. In collaboration with Voluntary Action Barra & Vatersay, Stephen applied to Creative Scotland and have been awarded First in a Lifetime funding from Creative Scotland to develop the project within the community and to develop a digital prototype version with work beginning in October. […]

  3. […] As part of Cape Farewell’s Sea Change commissions, artist Stephen Hurrel – along with two social ecologists – has been collecting stories and gathering information from the older fishermen on Barra and capturing this process on film. In collaboration with Voluntary Action Barra & Vatersay, Stephen has been awarded First in a Lifetime funding from Creative Scotland to develop the project within the community and to develop a digital prototype version with work beginning in October. […]

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Two Screen image of Calum A' Chal and Lighthouse Lens

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