Alberta Whittle to Present Major Exhibition at Mount Stuart this Spring

11th January 2024

Alberta Whittle to Present Major Exhibition at Mount Stuart this Spring

Mount Stuart Trust are delighted to announce that our first contemporary art exhibition of 2024 will be by Scottish-Barbadian artist Alberta Whittle. A site specific series of works, inspired by the history and landscapes of Mount Stuart House, the island of Bute and the Clyde, an immersive installation that considers ideas connected to ancestral roots, trade routes, routes of power, roots of empire will reveal itself across the site of Mount Stuart. The exhibition runs from 1 June until 25 August 2024.

Alberta Whittle by Matthew A Williams

Whittle will investigate and interrogate Bute as a Norse parliamentary site. She will explore the island’s history based on the knowledge that this ancient meeting place- known as a “thing”- would have been where Vikings gathered to decide laws, settle disputes and make key political decisions. Against a backdrop of abrasive immigration policies, xenophobia, the hostile environment and Brexit limits on movement and exchange, this research focuses on islands, waterways as networks and gathering as collective memory which can challenge ideas of separatism. The island of Bute as a significant nexus of gathering to discuss, challenge and think ‘things' becomes a way to re-engage with the amalgamation of and or scattering of ancient indigenous knowledge as well as cross cultural-mixing. Much of Whittle’s previous work has been inspired by or explored water and waterways - through maritime history and the Transatlantic slave trade and Bute, along with the other Clyde islands, is part of a maritime zone closely associated with the inner coastal waters of the Clyde estuary, the Western gateway to the heart of the Scottish Kingdom and to the Clyde-Forth route.

The project also presents excavation as a means of re-examining history — “what stories are beneath the soil, roots and rocks” - and the work will span both the house and gardens including Whittle’s first outdoor work in Scotand.

In the grounds of Mount Stuart, Whittle will build on healing properties of the waterways and emphasise ideas surrounding island culture, self-governance, and self-determination by creating a space related to both Scottish Bothies and Barbadian Chattel Houses. Chattel houses are part of Barbadian vernacular architecture, birthed on plantation yards they are latent symbols of fugitivity, community building, black resistance and of Caribbean aesthetics. They are flat-packed, designed to be erected and dismantled within a day in case “Massa” wanted their inhabitants to flee. In Whittle’s work viewers can rest and take time to pause and reflect, or at an alternate time debate and discuss.

Whittle’s creative practice is motivated by the desire to manifest self-compassion and collective care as key methods in battling anti-Blackness. Her multimedia practice encompasses drawing, digital collage, film, sculpture, performance and writing, through which she develops a visual, oral and textual language that questions accepted Western constructs of history and society. Through expansive research and generous storytelling her practice explores the historic legacies of the Transatlantic slave trade and the UK’s role in Empire, as well as the violence of colonialism and racism which continue to permeate society today. Balancing urgent political and social issues with poetic narratives, she invites audiences to come together to confront difficult truths from both the past and our present times, in order to find collective healing and begin to think outside of these damaging frameworks.

Artist Biography

Barbadian-Scottish artist Alberta Whittle’s multifaceted practice is preoccupied with

developing a personal response to the legacies of the Atlantic slave trade, unpicking its connections to institutional racism, white supremacy and climate emergency in the present. Against an oppressive political background Whittle aims to foreground hope and engage with different forms of resistance.

Whittle (b. 1980 Bridgetown Barbados; lives and works in Glasgow) received her MFA from the Glasgow School of Art in 2011 and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. She has exhibited and performed in various solo and group shows internationally, selected solo exhibitions include: 'Dipping below a waxing moon, the dance claims us for release', The Holburne Museum, Bath (2023); ‘deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory’, Scotland + Venice, 59th Venice Biennale (2022); ‘Congregation (Creating Dangerously)’, Grand Union, Birmingham (2022); ‘RESET’, Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh (2021); ‘business as usual: hostile environment’, Glasgow Sculpture Studios (Part of Glasgow International 2021); and ‘How flexible can we make the mouth’, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee (2019).

Selected group exhibitions include: British Art Show 9, touring to Aberdeen Art Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, and The Box Plymouth (2021-2022); ‘Moving Bodies, Moving Images’, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2022); ‘Twilight Land’, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2022); ‘Black Melancholia’, CCS Bard Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson (2022); ‘Sex Ecologies’, Kunsthall Trondheim, Norway (2021); ‘Life between islands: Caribbean British Art 1950s - Now’, Tate Britain, London (2021); ‘Life Support: Forms of Care in Art and Activism’, Glasgow Women’s Library, Glasgow (2021); and the 13th Havana Biennial, Wilfredo Lam Center, Havana, Cuba (2019).

Whittle represented Scotland in the 59th Venice Biennale and is a 2022 recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Awards for Artists. In 2020, she was awarded a Turner Bursary and the Frieze Artist Award, she was the Margaret Tait Award winner for 2018/19.

Whittle recently presented a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and currently has a major solo presentation on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One), Edinburgh. In September, 2023 Whittle opened her first solo exhibition at the Modern Institute, Glasgow “Even in the most beautiful place in the world, our breath can falter”. An exhibition at ICA Philadelphia is also forthcoming in 2024.