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Featured: GSA Fine Art Photography Student Robert Mercer

Work title: Resurrection Sunday – ‘Promised Land’
Installed: Easter Sunday 2018

Newshot Island on the River Clyde is an infrequented expanse of low-lying salt- marsh, tidal meadow, and silted, receding coast. The landscape here appears to be one in conflict. On one hand, its proximity to the natural wildlife corridor of the River Clyde, and its estuary-like habitat, makes it a chosen site for various wildlife – significantly favoured by wetland/sea bird species. On the other hand, it is a landscape erratically scattered with ecologically damaging detritus (plastics mainly), deposited by ebb and flow action of the tidal Clyde; the Clyde acts as a carrying agent for discarded debris from Scotland’s largest city – Glasgow. It is an interesting place to walk, and see; a space of transition – where ideologies of the built environment are replaced by the laws of nature. Perhaps a useful visual emphasis of this is the fact that the opposite bank is lined with industrial (and post-industrial) yards. Two contrasting worlds, two opposing themes, separated by river flow.

At the extreme (westernmost) point of the Newshot Island peninsula, one can proceed on foot no further. At this point, a structure constructed of re-imagined railway track sections exists. The structure looks like an industrial-age billboard type device, aimed at the river, probably dating from the days when the River Clyde was an important highway for industrial commerce. Although still very solid, the structure looks like it has lain naked and functionless for numerous decades. Due to its position – where all river traffic enters and exits the City of Glasgow – within the ‘transition zone’, the structure is now an ideal device for art purposes, by appropriation.

Using reclaimed plywood, acrylic sheets, paint, roofing bolts, brass screws, and solar powered LEDs, I re-imagined and repurposed the structure to create a site-specific piece of land-art. Tarnished by today’s world, this landscape feels special, and vulnerable; in a contemplative state of ‘semi-sacred’.

The work has the dynamic of a duality, whereby in the cold light of day it reads ‘THE PROMISED LAND’, at night the words ‘THE LAND’ are only visible – by means of the solar powered LEDs carefully fitted underneath the acrylic lettering.

The work intends to conjure notions of sacred space, environment, landscape, modernity, and history.
Robert Andrew Mercer – April 2018 More

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