Scots artist to feature in Berlin Wall 30th anniversary celebrations

An interview with Scottish artist Margaret Hunter is to be beamed onto Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate as part of the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Margaret Hunter moved to Berlin in 1985.Margaret Hunter moved to Berlin in 1985.
Margaret Hunter moved to Berlin in 1985.

Hunter’s memories of the reunification of Germany will also be among just seven contemporary witnesses featured in a book to mark the anniversary, published by Kulturprojekte Berlin, the official organisers of the celebrations.

Hunter, now 71, studied at Glasgow School of Art in the early 1980s. Seeing the work of German artist Georg Baselitz for the first time on an art school trip to Amsterdam, she moved to Berlin to study with him at the Hochschule der Kunste.

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She was living in Berlin at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, which saw the division between east and west Berlin torn down and marked the beginning of the reunification of Germany.

Hunter, whose work has been inspired by the division between east and west Germany, said: “For a long time the wall was very difficult to overcome in people’s minds. That’s what makes the 30th anniversary so interesting. It’s amazing to be part of it. To have experienced the tenth, the 20th and now this is fantastic.

Over the week of the 30th anniversary, the German capital will be transformed into a large open-air exhibition with over two hundred events at seven original sites of the ‘Peaceful Revolution’.

Hunter said: “It is partly now to do with memory, there has been some distance. There is none of the pain that was associated with the tenth anniversary, when it was somewhat shunned. It was too close and brought back bad memories.”

The recollections of contemporary witnesses will include civil rights leaders, participants in opposition activities, observers of events from West and East Berlin, immigrants and church representatives.

Hunter’s interview will be broadcast on the historic Brandenburg Gate, as well as at the East Side Gallery and five other locations across the city.

Hunter has used the Berlin Wall as inspiration for her art, showing a gallery version of one of her best-known paintings, Joint Venture - which was painted directly onto the wall at what became known as the East Side Gallery in Berlin - at a solo exhibition of her work at the Maclaurin Gallery, in her hometown of Ayr two years ago.

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A spokeswoman for Kulturprojekte Berlin said: “Scottish artist Margaret Hunter is one of many eyewitnesses we have interviewed for our exhibitions. Ms Hunter's interview material will be integrated into the locations East Side Gallery and Brandenburg Gate.

"Combining historical film footage with stunning light and sound effects, these 3D video projections offer a unique media art experience. Interacting with the architecture on location, the projections bring the story of the Peaceful Revolution to life at the sites where it unfolded."

Sections of the nearly 100 miles of wall were pulled down and knocked over in the days after a press conference was held on 9 November 1989 to announce that travel restrictions on East Germans had been lifted. Gates immediately began to open up along the frontier between east and west - both in divided Berlin, which is situated in the east of the country and across Germany.

In the four day party that followed, more than 3 million of East Germany’s 16.6 million people visited the west.