Wednesday, 21 August 2013


You can't make an omelette without  breaking eggs. So now that it has been decided what work by whom is going where for our first exhibition, its time to get cracking. With both Daniel and Jonathan showing filmed works as part of their presentations, first job in the gallery has been to get the screens, DVD players and all the relevant cables in place.

Jonathan is working right up to the wire, and is still out shooting footage to be included in the final edit. Recently this has involved a wheelbarrow, a small generator, lights and props all being carted up a hillside for a late night visit to Auchindoun Castle. Over the past couple of weeks the scope of his work has expanded and will now be a two channel video.  

Its been a good few weeks in the making but Erick has now finished construction of his colossal installation in the gallery back room. He now has to put the finishing touches to the audio and lighting that accompany the piece.

So it has been long days for everyone as the first deadline approaches but there is always some time for socialisation. Agi is currently playing host to three old art school friends including former Glenfiddich Artist in Residence, Wu ChiTsung, who was last here way back in 2006. So last night brought a happy reunion as we all shared a special meal. Taking fusion cooking to the ultimate extreme, merging together a Taiwanese favourite - spicy hot pot, with two staples of a Scottish fried breakfast, sausage and black pudding. The black pudding apparently made a good substitute for the pigs blood usually included in the spicy soup base.

Monday, 19 August 2013


With less than two weeks to go before the first exhibition opening things are starting to come together for the works that will be presented.

For Daniel this meant a full day at the Highland Print Studios in Inverness printing the framing mats that will be part of his final presentation. These were then duly delivered the next day to The Still Life Studio in Aberlour. Who will be responsible for the assembling of the framed works once the drawings, which complete the assemblage, are ready.

As well as the forward planning for the opening Daniel also has another focus preparing for his live performance of 'I can't stop looking at you' in our visitor centre theatre later this week.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


It has been over a year in the making. In this time its creator has moved house several times, survived a flood, had a number of haircuts but still not learned how to cook a turnip.

Whisky and Charcoal, a collection of drawings by Daniel Zalkus, is a pictorial documentation of his residency at here at Glenfiddich last summer.

Chicago based Zalkus practises a particular style of drawing known as reportage illustration. Passionate about his craft Daniel is also knowledgeable in its history. Artist reporting had its heyday in the 1950's and 60's when magazines such as Time and Fortune would send artists as correspondents to cover stories along side journalists and photographers. By capturing the moment through their 'on the spot drawing', the artist provided a different sense of dynamic to the published report. 

And so in this spirit, for Daniel time at Glenfiddich was spent very much out in the field. Working outside when dry or retreating to the Still House, Cooperage  or some other haven when wet, he quickly became a well known figure across the site. He was also highly productive producing 8 to 10 drawings a day. Quietly standing with one edge of his drawing board tucked into his belt, arm outstretched supporting the other, sketching away with charcoal pencils, he could literally melt into the background - had he not been wearing his hi-visibility cloak of all protecting safety of course. Despite the bright yellow vest Daniel's ubiquity was key to his practise allowing him almost become part of the fixtures and fittings. Allowing him the ability to observe without intrusion the working day of the employees he was capturing in charcoal.

In fact there was only one instance when an objection was made to his presence. This was by a very irate and overly protective herring gull, who had set up her nest in the chimney pot of the distillery office. This happened to be above the spot Daniel had chosen to stand while sketching the Glenfiddich kiln across the yard. Making her annoyance known in the way that herring gulls do, she repeated swooped at Daniel's head before moving on to the tactic of dive bombing. Daniel tried his best to defend himself with his drawing board but finally had to admit defeat. He was not able to finish the drawing till later in the summer when the gull had raised her brood and moved on.
Whisky and Charcoal contains a selection of these drawings which have now been reworked as colour images. 12 copies of the book, signed by the artist, are to be offered as prizes in a forthcoming twitter completion details of which will be coming very soon. In the meantime copies are available directly from the artist.

Saturday, 10 August 2013


Thursday evening saw the latest artists presentation, This time given by Yun Yao who had earlier returned from his trip to Edinburgh along with Ms Chen Xixing from the Don Gallery in Shanghai.

While he explained his approach to his art, including his use of multi layered techniques including drawing, wash and final detail, Xixing served up a wonderful array of edibles including the fiercest cucumber known to man kind. Pre cut and salted to draw the water this thermo nuclear cucurbitaceae is then marinated in sugar, rice vinegar and soy sauce before being served with a smothering of fried chilli peppers and spiced oil.
To balance the fire of the cucumber we also enjoyed some moon cake being close to the right time of year to traditional enjoy this special celebration cake.

An added bonus to the evening was bumping into Michelle as we made our way into town for the Ceilidh. Michelle was on the last leg of one her popular whisky walks held weekly over the summer months. As the name suggests a fair amount of walking and drinking whisky is involved, and so for once, being in the right place at the right time  was rewarded by a cheeky wee dram.

Having gone on a distillery tour earlier on in the day Xixing asked if she might visit the cooperage the next morning, where as a special thank you for the cucumber she was allowed to sniff some casks.

Thursday, 8 August 2013


After successfully managing to lose Erick, Agi, Yunyao, Jon and Maria in the crowds of the Edinburgh Festival it has only taken them a few days to walk back to Dufftown. Erick was first back on Tuesday and since then has been putting in the hours working on his installation which will be included in our opening on August 30th.

Unfortunately not everyone made it back from auld reekie totally unscathed. Poor Agi chipped her tooth on a piece of Edinburgh rock, so it looks like a trip to the tooth doctor is on the cards. On the positive side though, after a visit from her parents, sister, brother in law and their two young children Agi's food cupboards are well stocked with a fine range of Taiwanese delicacies.

Monday, 5 August 2013


Now that we are two months in to the residency period last week seemed a good point to take a few days off before getting too tangled up with preparations for our first exhibition opening at the end of this month.

However it was straight back in to the saddle on Saturday morning when Jon, Maria, Agi, Yunyao and Erick joined me in a road trip to Jupiter Artland just outside Edinburgh.

Set in the glorious estates surrounding Bonnington House, Jupiter Artland is the brainchild of Robert and Nicky Wilson. Who over the past few years have invited leading contemporary artists to create new sculptural works to be displayed in the grounds.

Saturdays event held as part of the Edinburgh Visual Arts Festival, celebrated the latest work to join the collection, Sara Barker's 'Patterns'. In addition to this and the other permanent sculptural works the days event included two works by Jeremy Deller, in collaboration with Ed Hall and Alan Kane, 'Procession' and 'Steam Powered Internet Machine'  Musical entertainment was provided by another of Deller's long term collaborators, Manchester's Steel Harmony who gave their own Caribbean flavour to songs by fellow Manchurians Joy Division and the Buzzcocks. 

With all the artist gang staying over in Edinburgh for a couple of days it was a quiet drive back to Dufftown where it remains quiet with only Daniel, Marie and Florian on site. It's almost like still being on holiday...

Which reminds me of a joke.....

There are these two cows standing in a field...... which one is going on holiday/

The one with the wee calf.