Shona Illingworth creates evocative video and sound installations which explore the experience of memory and the formation of identity in situations of social tension and trauma.
In her most ambitious work to date, Illingworth returns to the community in which she grew up - the remote community and former radar base of Balnakiel, situated on the North West Coast of Scotland - to create a powerful and complex investigation of memory, history and spirit-of-place.
Forming a vivid portrait of this remarkable location at the furthermost edge of Britain, the film portrays the extremes and vicissitudes of weather echoed by the intermittent thunder of RAF and Royal Navy manoeuvres around this still-active bombing range. Not only a study of this brooding, melancholy landscape, Balnakiel also reveals the lives and recollections of successive residents of the community and the nearby, older clearance village of Durness (with its own violent legacy dating from the time of the Highland Clearances). The personal journeys of a young girl and the voices and recollections of other local inhabitants build a captivating picture of this community situated at the forefront of social and cultural change.
The work considers the complex interaction between individual and collectivememory, informed by a series of exchanges with cognitive psychologist Martin A. Conway. Through these conversations, the artist has produced a series of scientific drawings that, alongside the film, attempt to map a new understanding of the experience and behaviour of human memory in the face of trauma. The film is also accompanied by a powerful collection of photographic portraits of the Balnakiel community taken by Illingworth.
The exhibition is on view at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery
and ends on May 1, 2010.