Category Archives: art

Wullie hunting

Around Dundee this summer were spotted those with their mobile phones in hand, but this wasn’t for the Pokemon Go craze, this was for the Oor Wulliecraze. They were popping up everywhere and where there was a Wullie was someone, from young children to adults, with their Bucket Trail map and/or phone app…. writes Linda Ford.


The Oor WullieBucket Trail in Dundee and the surrounding area was such great fun! In a stroke of genius The Archie Foundation teamed up with Wild in Art and DC Thomson to raise funds for Tayside Children’s Hospital and with an auction total of £883,000 for 70 Oor Wullies, it was definitely a huge success.

The £50,000 that the Oor Original sold for is a clear indication of how much of a beloved icon Oor Wullie is to those of us who grew up reading about his exploits in the Sunday Post each week and the yearly annuals.


Many of the Wullies were designed around something close to Dundee’s heart, such as the Wullie the Menace, which of course, was situated on Bash Street.

Here are some more Oor Wullies. The one below is called Whar Ji Cum Fi? It was in the Howff.  It’s reflective so you can see yourself in it.

lf_noim_rwll_wrjcmfhwff_lf_1100And here are four where they were assembled before being auctioned. They are Strawberry Thief (one of the Oot an Aboot touring Wullies), Woodland Wullie (upper right), Lillies, inpired by Monet (lower left) and Oor Original.



More info and what they sold for can be found here

Macoto Murayama and T rep

T rep. The short form given by our field survey teams to white clover Trifolium repens. Still a common plant of pasture and waysides, so common that the intricacies of its structure and lf_noim_macoto1_gki1_350function generally go unnoticed.

Yet the mathematical artworks by Macoto Murayama shown in July at Dundee University reveal these intricacies in astonishing detail (image right).

The exhibition was held by courtesy of Frantic Gallery, Tokyo.

The Living Field’s correspondent gk-images sent some cellphone snaps from the exhibition. 

The introduction gives some detail of the artist and how he transfers the complex flowering heads and flowers of his botanical subjects to two-dimentional images.

“Macoto Murayama is a Japanese artist who cultivates ‘inorganic flora’. His extraordinary images are created after minutely dissecting real flowers and studying [them] under a microscope. His lf_noim_mctmryt_gki3_350drawings are then modelled in 3D imaging software then rendered into 2D compositions on photoshop before being printed on a large scale.”

Born in Kanagawa, Japan in 1984 he is now a researcher at Institute of Advanced Media and Art and Sciences, Tokyo.

The photographs, with reflections of lights and the opposite wall are of white clover (top) and spanish broom (lower).

Sources, links

Dundee University – Macoto Murayama: Growth and Form Exhibition. 14 May to 20 August 2016. Lamb Gallery, Tower Building, Dundee. Click the link for opening times.

Macoto Murayama at Frantic gallery:

Frantic Gallery Tokyo. Looks like some great exhibitions, for example the Universe and other Oddities by Zen Tainaka.

On Growth and form, a classic treatise by D’Arcy Thompson.  Web site

Images Thanks to gk-images for the photographs shown here.

Ps Back to T. rep. There would be, in the 1940s, five or six legumes growing as ‘weeds’ in cornfields but they have since been ousted by nitrogen fertiliser and chemical herbicide. Trifolium repens is one of the the last remaining of these nitrogen fixers still found, but then rarely, in arable fields.


More than landscape (2)

Slovenian countryside, hay-racks, the artist Vida Fakin

Travelling through the countryside of Slovenia, through the intimate patchwork of fields and enclosures, attention is repeatedly drawn to the hay-racks that stand sometimes isolated in pasture and sometimes clustered around  farmsteads.

vida_monografija_cover_500These hay racks embody a very direct and very local chain from soil to plant to beast to field. Hay is cut from meadows and grassy places, collected and hung over horizontal wooden poles to dry, then fed to farm animals when the natural pasture is out of season.

The hay-racks take on a range of forms, from two simple concrete posts spanned by a corrugated iron roofing strip to two-storied structures having the wooden poles along the side, rooms above, partly open at least on one side, and a place below for farm machinery (images below).

So it was good fortune to meet the daughter (Mojca Suklje)  and granddaughter (Helena Suklje) of the artist Vida Fakin whose interests, among many, were the ikons of the Slovenia countryside and in particular its hay-racks and scarecrows set against a backdrop of mountain pasture and rocky hills.

And it was even better when Mojca and Helena agreed to provide material about Vida and her art for the Living Field web site.

We will begin with the notes for an exhibition of Vida Fakin’s works held in 2015 at the Josef Stefan Institute Ljubljana.

The black and white images above were taken by the editor in the Bohinj area of Slovenia, around Studor and on higher pasture.

The image at the top of the page is the front cover of Monografija / Vida Fakin – Ljubljana: Enotnost 1994.

Living Field page on Vida Fakin. Also More than landscape and Hay-racks.

Among tree ferns and mountain ash – the William Ricketts Sanctuary

William Ricketts began in 1934 to create his Sanctuary in a hilly region of the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria, Australia. He fused  fired-clay images, mainly of Aboriginal people, with the lie of slope and rock on a hillside vegetated with trees and tree-ferns.  He believed that people could live together and with nature, and that destruction and exploitation were not inevitable.



The images are now shaded by layers of vegetation. The upper canopy is mostly the leaf and branch of australian mountain ash,  Eucalyptus regnans,  tall and straight, said to be the tallest of the Angiosperms (non-conifers), and so very different from our own mountain ash or rowan.  Below them are a few medium sized trees and then the tree ferns, luxuriant above the paths and sculptures. (A part of a tree fern is included in each of the sets of images on this page.)

At the base are herbs, ferns and mosses, growing close to and in some instances on the sculptures. This proximity gives the site an organic feel, the images becoming part of the scene, aided by the artist taking casts of the rocks so that he could match the base of the clay precisely with its intended location.



The clay images come alive in their setting. Many are part covered in a green algal film that must change with the seasons. Water droplets lie on them. Rivulets of water flow over them. Insects and fallen leaves rest on them and they change as the gums and tree ferns filter the light. There are  touches of William Blake in the way figures swirl and flow into each other.

Ricketts was born in 1898, a little more than a century after the main phase of European colonisation began. He spent many years living with Aboriginal Australians, learning their approach to life and how they managed vegetation and land. He also created works for natural locations farther north, in central Australia.



He died in 1993, aged 94. He lives through the Sanctuary, his various other works and a few writings, but most of all through the memories of people who have seen his works in their intended setting.

The Sanctuary is managed by Parks Victoria. As with all other images on the Living Field site, images of William Ricketts’ works here are displayed ‘not for profit’ (taken October 2015).


Parks Victoria State Government web page on the William Ricketts Sanctuary (with access to a downloadable PDF guide)

Brady P. 1995. Whitefella Dreaming: the authorised biography of William Ricketts. Published by Preferred Image.

The Wikipedia entry gives further references.

Tree fern overhead at the William Ricketts Sanctuary (Squire)
Tree fern overhead at the William Ricketts Sanctuary (Squire)

Empire at Wall Projects II Montrose

This fine exhibition, on themes of Empire, is housed at Wall Projects II in the Old Ropeworks off Bents Road in Montrose. The venue itself is a work unique, including an upper room (image below) and the very long and narrow rope works on the ground floor, disused and part derelict and now open in places to sun and rain.

Upper exhibition room, Wall projects (Living Field)
Dark in parts, this exhibition: it makes you think of how ordinary people become complicit in dire trades and livings, in buying and selling people, in slavery on a massive, organised scale.

Here’s the earner: sail to european ports with some good local Scottish produce like salmon, textiles and things to smoke; offload the cargo – but an empty ship costs money – so off down to Africa to fill up with slaves; take them to the Americas, leave them there to be sold and worked; then bring back tobacco. Scottish enterprise! So tells the audio exhibit Considered Cargo by Carolyn Scott.lf_noim_wllprjcts_ks_550bdr

The dehumanising of peoples considered little more than zoological specimens continues in the utterly mesmerising four-minute video Shadow Show by Kyra Clegg (an image captured above by K Squire).

Other artists tell of the whale trade, the driving to near extinction of these great, warm blooded, social mammals; the realisation that they individually suffer. Linen, whale oil, jute, slaughter, wealth  inextricably linked.

It’s not all dark – there is lightness and humour among the twenty artists exhibiting here, but threads recur of claim and exploitation.


Take the insidious link between beverage and narcotic, tea and opium, Camellia sinensis and Papaver somniferum, a leaf-stimulent drunk by most people in Britain and the poppy-head-latex source of the heroin trade. Those Europeans who like tea, should perhaps know its origins. But no blame to the tea plant, and no blame to the poppy for it also gave us one of the best painkillers.

At the farthest end of the rope works is an impenetrable mass of ivy roots, hanging down, and from them (or to them if you look the other way) stretches the orange to yellow to grey to black complex curve of coloured, filled balloons in Meltwater by Juliana Capes. It’s the seasons played out.

Meltwater exhibit at the rope works, Montrose (K Squire)

We spent some hours at Empire. Sorry not to mention all the artists exhibiting, but go and see for yourselves. One of the very best.


Empire by the Society of Scottish Artists, at Wall Projects II, 13 Bents Road, Montrose, Angus DD10 8QA. Various dates to 29 August 2015. Check the web site : or email

Society of Scottish Artists web page on Empire has many  photographs of the exhibits and notes about the artists:



Exhibition on the theme of empire from 25 July to 29 August, Montrose Rope Works, includes plant collecting, slavery, trade.