Contemporary Australian artist Kate Scardifield had free rein to explore the collections of regional museums in Fife, Falkirk, West Kilbride and the Borders to prepare for this show. The result is an exhibition weaving historical pieces (different ones for each iteration, of which this is the last) with new work in response.
Kate Scardifield: Ley Lines, Park Gallery, Callendar House, Falkirk ***
Falkirk has a trove of history, from Roman fortifications to Jacobite politics, and the gallery in historic Callendar House is an ideal place to respond to it. But Scardifield is interested in connections as much as responses, in links between Scotland and Australia.
Her major point of connection is Thomas Brisbane, a keen astronomer from Largs who became governor of New South Wales, and built the Sydney Parramatta Observatory, taking with him equipment from Scotland. Her film High Noon shows one object, a metal circlet from a telescope, spinning slowly and hypnotically, catching the light, suggestive of a planet, the moon, the passing of time itself.
A Cabinet of Evolving Propositions places objects from museum collections next to sculptures in wax, gold thread and folded paper, making no distinction between “real” historical artefacts and imagined ones, opening up questions about what we value and why, and how we choose to represent the past.
The other works are textiles: printed images of pottery fragments on black fabric (The New Past), and Soft Chorus, linen hangings coloured with dyes from native Australian plants which respond to the banners and flags in the museum collections. They are beautiful, but so abstracted that any direct connection to the past is, at best, diffuse.
While there is no doubting the richness of the historic material, her choice of objects is so diverse and her responses so abstract that connections remain hard to pin down. - Susan Mansfield
Until 21 October