Full 2024 programme for Mount Stuart Contemporary Visual Arts announced

23rd January 2024

Full 2024 programme for Mount Stuart Contemporary Visual Arts announced

We are delighted to share our 2024 Visual Arts programme. The first exhibition of the year will be by Scottish-Barbadian artist Alberta Whittle, running June - August 2024. This will be followed by an exhibition by Irish cross-media artist Oisín Byrne, opening in August 2024. Both exhibitions continue to expand the ways in which the Contemporary Visual Art programme at Mount Stuart invigorates and responds to the historic house and grounds.

Alberta Whittle

June - August 2024

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.

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 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 Scotland. Inside will be freestanding sculptural works.

Alberta Whittle by Matthew A Williams

Whittle’s creative practice is motivated by the desire to manifest self-compassion and collective care as key methods in battling anti-Blackness. Her multi-media 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.

Read the full press release here.

Oisín Byrne, 2023

Oisín Byrne

August - October 2024

For this exhibition, Byrne proposes to create a new series of large and small scale paintings with a linguistic focus, drawing source material from the collection at Mount Stuart. A starting point for Byrne’s project will be one of the less well-known collections at Mount Stuart: its Gaelic and Irish books and pamphlets. More specifically, he is interested in the annotations made in these publications and exploring graphological narratives. These new works further Byrne’s interest in creating multi-layered works combining found texts and research with fragments from his own notebooks - as if in an attempt to understand or communicate something of the complexity and non-coherence of “the self”.

Over the past four years Byrne has been producing a collection of songs, which he describes as 'sardonic pop music', based on excerpts from his notebooks. Writer and curator Eva Wilson sees his songs as 'citational anthems', pulling 'formulations from conversations, borrowing them, taking them out of context, tacking them onto surfaces, quoting them back, reconsidering them, performing them.' Many of the songs have accompanying videos which embed them in the writing and theoretical ground from which they emerge.

For Mount Stuart the artist will further develop this approach and create a new body of music and performance work. Byrne plans to complement his new works with a string quartet. He will orchestrate and record electronic songs to acoustic strings, displaying the recordings with accompanying video throughout the house. This will be punctuated by a live performance during the run of the exhibition.

Byrne’s exhibition will combine installation, live performance, film and paintings to create an immersive audience experience.