Imagining Natural Scotland Project for the Year of Natural Scotland 2013, presented at the INS Conference at the University of St Andrews on 27th August 2013.
The Valentine Project is an exercise in graphic archaeology, an attempt to mine the complex questions of landscape, ecology and representation in Scotland through the device of drawing. It seeks to unpack the familiar compositional tropes of the landscape postcard in Scotland through close collaboration with specialists in the field of ecology and historical geography, to examine issues of composition, subject and point of view, species genealogy, alien species allied to industrial resourcing, evidence of agriculture and land management and the inclusion and exclusion of ‘human detail’ in the sustained – and we would argue limiting – aesthetic of Scotland as a somehow ‘natural/found/wild land’ as opposed to a worked, cultivated, occupied and cherished landscape. The creative agenda of the project is the investigation and subsequent invention of a form of graphic representation able to both critique the somewhat jaded topographic view [postcard] and offer an alternative in the form of a graphic language sensitive to the detail of landscape evolution, occupation and ecological layering. A form of landscape representation awake to the realities of the human landscapes of Scotland and therefore equipped to represent alternative offerings, in effect to illuminate the other landscapes of Scotland that acknowledge the changing nature of dwelling – living and working – in the complex landscapes of a modern country. The project centres on a singular body of landscape representation, the photographic archive of J Valentine and Co., Dundee and within that archive the postcard collection of some 50,000 topographic views of Scotland made between 1898 and 1967 and held in the Libraries of St. Andrews University.
Lisa Mackenzie, Landscape Architect
Victoria Clare Bernie, Visual Artist
John Darbyshire, Ecologist
Fraser MacDonald, Historical Geographer