Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Our newest resident Mr Han Wonsuk has spent his first week here at Glenfiddich getting orientated and organised for the next three months. Fitting in well with his hi visibility foot ware he has already identified the black room in the back of the gallery as the ideal location for his planned sound and light installation..
Han Won Suk’s artistic practice crosses a number of different disciplinary boundaries. A graduate of the Chelsea College of Art and Design he is also a trained architect which is self evident in many of his large scale public installations.
As an architect, Han's primary interest in form and arrangement is translated into his art through sculpture and installation.Utilising abandoned or waste materials –such as old car headlamps, hi-fi speakers or discarded cigarette butts – he attempts to reconcile the consumption of mankind with a rebirth through abandonment. In this sense Han’s work lies between the boundary of dual structures such as waste and art, human and nature, civilization and environment, front and back.
It is however the duality of light and shadow that will be explored in his residency work. When he is not to be found soaking up the recent early summer Dufftown sunshine outside his cottage Han is likely to be in the black room, positioning and considering one of the special light/speaker units he brought with him from Korea.


Monday, 19 May 2014


The past few days saw the first sessions of Trevor and Rhonda's coin making workshop take place. A good response saw a healthy turn out for both the Thursday night and Saturday morning sessions. Some even stayed and took part after it had been explained that the workshop was to make a one off personalised commemorative coin and not the forging of legal tender for use in slot machines...

Thursday, 15 May 2014


The tranquillity of the distillery has been slightly disturbed this past couple of days, where the artistic school of thought has certainly been that of  becoming at one with the material. This week scraping, banging and grunting noises have been heard emitting from the shed behind Balvenie Cottages, home to Trevor and Rhonda, as becoming one has been a very literal experience for Trevor. Armed with a wire brush and scrapper he has been preparing a number of old cask staves and making them ready for the next stage. The Canadian pair usually work with shelf bought sheets of veneer but at Glenfiddich have decided to make their own. With now over 50 staves cleaned up, free of any grit and spots of rust  - left clinging where the stave was in contact with the iron hoop, the next stage will see the faces of the staves put through a band saw. Producing thin slivers of wood still showing the marks of ageing which will give the resulting veneer sheet its own character.

Fortunately a new washing machine was installed into Rhonda and Trevor's kitchen yesterday so Trevor should be able to have something clean to wear at tonight's first coin making workshop. 

Alternatively... he could borrow a tin flute from the very dapper Han Wonsuk who arrived in style from Korea yesterday evening.

Monday, 12 May 2014


With the first of Rhonda and Trevor's coin workshops taking place later this week. The weekend seemed a good time to strip out the last exhibition and make the gallery ready.
Over the past couple of months the gallery at Glenfiddich has been displaying a selection of works drawn from the residency collection. With at least one piece being left by each artist  in residence at the distillery over the past twelve years the collection now contains enough works to make some curatorial choices for selective showings. This exhibition entitled 'Family Matters' contained works that celebrate,families, relationships and notions of kinship....
Glenfiddich's five generations of family ownership has been an inspiration for several past residents. While this intergenerational family continuity was explored by Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy in her etch print 'Continuity'. It was the ability of Glenfiddich to retain workers for many years, that attracted Indian photographer Srikanth Kolari. Even more interesting for him was that these long serving employees were themselves often second or third generation descendants of previous workers.
This resulted in the photo project entitled 'The Generations'  Using images provided by present day workers - depicting family members taken back in the day at the distillery - Sri replicated the photograph in the same location using the present day worker in the same pose and position.
Along side some very personal figurative views of family and domestic life as offered by Annie Pootoogook fellow Canadian Jonathan Kaiser appropriated the form of children's pop-up books to tell a real life story from the early days of Glenfiddich achieved through a series of cut and folded paper sculptures.
Although 'Family Matters' wasn't open for public viewing it still received a good number of internal company group visits and trade visitors. The next residency exhibition will open its doors on the evening of Friday 18th July.

Thursday, 8 May 2014


Today was the first full day on Scottish soil for our latest artist arrival. Hu Zi flew into Aberdeen late last night from Shanghai. Represented by the Don Gallery who are the selection partners for the Glenfiddich residency programme in China, Hu Zi works in water colours to create portraits with an abstracted post modernist slant.

Allowing for her late hour of arrival last night, todays schedule was kept to a quick tour of the Glenfiddich process areas and orientation of the Dufftown shops.

Meanwhile down in the cooperage, Trevor and Rhonda, - now on top of the copper casting aspect of their  residency project - have turned their attention to their other key material oak veneer made from old Glenfiddich whisky casks.

First stage in this reasonably experimental process was to try and produce a series of thin shavings from the face of cask staves. After a  demonstration by our head cooper Ian McDonald, Trevor was able to get some hands on experience on a traditional stave planer.

Art is everywhere as,renovations on two distillery properties that will be used when our last two residents arrive in June have shown. The stripping back of the walls have revealed faded pencil drawings on the bare plaster dated 1909.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


This morning started off wet and grey so it seemed  quite an appropriate atmosphere for taking the Slug out for a wee roll over the Cabrach To Lumsden, home of the Scottish Sculpture Workshop.

Readers of the blog from last year, if there are any... will know the Slug is the AiR programmes personnel carrier or Artsmobile, and will be pleased to know that the fitting of a new battery - imported at no small expense from Italy - over the winter has stopped the starting stopping starting problems of last summer.  

Our visit to the SSW allowed Trevor and Rhonda the opportunity to speak with Eden the foundry technician about their forthcoming coin making workshops.

Discussions on injection and vacuum casting were hampered only by Trevor and Rhonda inability to decipher Eden's rich Northumbrian brogue....

Established in 1979 the workshop has established itself as one of the key facilities in the North East arts world. It is internationally known as a centre of excellence in providing artists direct access to a wide range of sculpting techniques including hot metal casting.

In addition to providing 'hands on' experience to artists such as Rhonda who will be casting  coins from the finished molds created in her workshops SSW also hosts its own residency programme, courses and workshops.


Just as the artists arrive for the summer so do their boxes of shipped supplies. While Trevor and Rhonda brought some materials with them, Joyce elected to ship hers over from Taiwan. Including the obligatory big box load of noodles and other dried exotic goodies.

Joyce, who makes the grand claim to be 'as good, if not better a cook than Agi Chen' (our 2013 Taiwanese resident) can now have her culinary skills put to the test. Although she admits last nights micro waved rice was pretty awful. 
Now that she is saved from starvation in Scotland Joyce has been sourcing local materials in the shape of these cask ends. With the best cask ends selected, the first task of making sure they stay in one piece with out the body of the cask holding them together.has begun. Once secured these cask ends will provide a base for the series of paintings and text pieces Joyce plans over her residency.

Meanwhile over in the home of the Toronto toasted BLT... Rhonda and Trevor are settling in to quiet country living,. In between planning the coin making workshops and getting creeped out by late night horror films, they are also starting to get to grips with their chosen materials of copper foil and thin wood veneer.

Again there is a local angle to the materials as they plan to make the veneer by using shaved curls of cask stave shavings. The very same ones left over from last years Glenfiddich Christmas angel wings.

Saturday, 3 May 2014


One highlight of this years Speyside Whisky festival had to be last nights gig at Balvenie Castle, by the Copper Dogs.
Made up of whisky fanatics, The Copper Dogs are a four-piece band comprising of well-known whisky industry characters Sam Simmons (guitar/vocals), Cat Spencer (vocals), Simon Roser (drums) and Rob Allanson (bass). Inspired by their number one passion of whisky, the Copper Dogs’s songs are mostly ‘blends’ or ‘mash-ups’ of songs from across the years since 1962. With the domineering 13th Century Balvenie Castle as a backdrop they performed tracks at a very special one-off concert to celebrate the launch of their new album.
The band’s first album, a double LP which is being released on vinyl only and limited to just 500 copies was recorded in the floor maltings of the nearby Balvenie Distillery last summer, giving an added dimension to the acoustics of the recording.

As well as being the driving force behind The Copper Dogs, Sam Simmons had to be the driving force rolling the barrel speakers he had specially made for the concert up into the castle. Sam who in his spare time is a Balvenie Brand Ambassador worked with Glenfiddich craftsman Ian Law to convert to two old whisky casks so they could each carry a 12 inch speaker.

Here Sam is being offered kind words of encouragement to help him on his long and rocky path by Glenfiddich's Malt Master Brian Kinsman.

It was the first time such an event had been held in the castle and it provided the most unique of settings. With the perfect evening weather and attraction of a free dram, a large crowd came along to enjoy the show including Joyce, Rhonda and Trevor. who dropped in to soak up the atmosphere.

Friday, 2 May 2014


With the whisky festival now in full swing there are many new strange characters around the town. But none are stranger than a particularly strange looking crauter doing a highland fling on top of the 'Welcome to Dufftown' and twin town signs on Balvenie Street. Where he came from no one knows, it could be that he is an escapee from Tattie Boggle week over in near by Rothes. But regardless he seems to be pretty well settled in for the weekend at least.

Quite appropriately given the national flag on the twin town sign, he was there on Thursday morning to welcome our latest residents, Trevor Mahovsky and Rhonda Weppler. the recipients of the 2014 Canadian Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize.
The artistic team of Winnipeg-born, self-proclaimed nomad, Weppler and Calgary-born, Toronto-based Mahovsky, have been working as an artisitic collaboration for a number of years and their work takes an innovative sculptural approach to still life. By combining handmade craft and improvised materials, their inventive work is an artistic translation of the complex identity of everyday objects as cultural artifacts. The pair's sculptural still life has been described as, "wickedly inventive, event-studded, inexhaustibly suggestive" and "mesmerizing, beautiful and surprisingly profound."

The pair were chosen from almost 200 applications by a distinguished jury panel comprising of  Dr. Sara Diamond, president of Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) University, Gaetane Verna, director of The Power Plant, Kitty Scott, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Julian Sleath, programming manager of special events, economic development and culture at the City of Toronto, the Canadian 2008 Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize recipient, Dave Dyment .

One of the residency projects planned by Rhonda and Trevor are a series of free coin making workshop to be held in the gallery at Glenfiddich from mid May. Participants will sculpt a coin of their own design which will then be used to make a mold before being cast in copper.

The workshops will be run in four sessions for full details or to book a place mail