Press Release: Artist Jason Nelson & The Mobile Foundry at Balmacellan


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Image Credit: Colin Tennant
Image Credit: Colin Tennant

Scots’ Hopes for the Future Cast in Metal for Climate Change Arts Project

Scots of all ages have had their hopes for the year 2030 recorded on specially cast metal ingots in a project exploring the legacy of the Galloway Glens hydro scheme and the future for renewables.

Artist Jason Nelson took a mobile foundry to Balmacellan this weekend where he poured molten aluminium into moulds taken from lino cuts made by more than 80 people including secondary school students and members of local Men’s Shed group.

Jason’s work explores the story of Scotland’s hydroelectric schemes and the development of hydroelectric power in Galloway (one of Scotland’s oldest and boldest clean and renewable energy projects).

His project was inspired by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s projection that the world needs to fundamentally change its energy production and use by 2030 to avoid irreparable damage to the environment and climate system.

Hydro schemes initially came to Scotland to generate the energy needed for aluminium smelting. Then, with moves to build the National Grid, they were seen as a way to bring power to the people.

Jason said: “The Galloway Glens hydro scheme was an astonishing piece of civil engineering – with the capacity to provide clean energy for around 79,000 homes.

“Right now, we need the same kind of drive, vision and creative thinking to put renewables at the heart of global energy production and to help us reshape how we use energy by 2030.

“That’s not long – today’s secondary school students will only be in their 20s. So I thought I’d ask people of all ages to say what they would like to see in the next 12 years.”

Jason encouraged participants to express their aspirations and desires by marking lino using cutting tools, letter punches and stick on letters. These have been used to create castings about the size of a mobile phone.

Some people’s messages were global, like wanting a better environment for their grandchildren, others were simple and homely like hoping for a family of their own – or even a pet dog.

The finished pieces will form part of an Energise exhibition at Gracefield Arts Centre, which opens on 11th May

Jason is one of three artists involved in Energise. The project is run by Upland Arts Development CIC, and aims to explore the relationship between climate change and the environment and people of Dumfries and Galloway.

Amy Marletta, Projects Director at Upland Arts Development, said: “We wanted to give artists the chance to look at one of the most overwhelmingly important issues facing the world today in the context of Dumfries and Galloway where we are based.

“Jason has found a really creative way to bring unite the story of hydro electricity, and the enormous success of the Galloway Glens scheme, with the urgent need to respond to climate change.

“By asking people about their hopes for the world in just a few years’ time he is really bringing home how little time we have to make enormous changes.”

It is supported by Creative Scotland and the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership.

McNabb Laurie, Galloway Glens Team Leader, said: “The construction of the Galloway Hydro Scheme in the 1930s took a nationally, if not internationally, pioneering approach to large scale renewable energy production. A drop of rain could be used up to seven times to generate electricity on its journey down the valley. Almost 100 years later, the scheme has become embedded into the landscape and this project is a great opportunity to see how people relate to it. Many thanks to our funder, National Lottery Heritage Fund.”

The other artists involved are Morag Paterson and Ted Leeming who have been talking to people across the area about their thoughts, memories and attitudes towards the huge hydro projects of the 1930s.

Jason has been supported by associate artist Catherine Major, who has been assisting him to gain experience in participatory practice.

Join the Energise artists in residence for a day long-event that celebrates the history and legacy of the Galloway hydro scheme. It runs from 10am to 4.30pm on 27 April with a tour of the Tongland power station, an artist walk, talks and lunch. Please note that each part of the day has as separate booking page on Eventbrite to allow people to choose whether to attend only the morning session or afternoon session. Booking essential. See