The Great Glen Artists Airshow

Adam Dant and Rob La Frenais sing at the front of a bus which is driving along a country road.
Adam Dant, Perambulatory Bus Tour Sing Song, The Great Glen Artists Airshow.
Alec Finlay reading Sky-wheel poems at the wind turbine
Alec Finlay, Sky-Wheel Turbine Poems, Great Glen Artists Airshow.
Camila Sposati, Yellow Vanishing Point Smoke Sculpture, The Great Glen Artists Airshow.
Large green, blue and yellow balloons float above Loch Ruthven
Esther Polak, Ivar van Bekkum, Come Fly With Me, The Great Glen Artists Airshow.
A man lies face down within a wooden structure in woodland, gazing through a window which shows a blue sky with clouds.
London Fieldworks, Great Glen Artists Airshow, Augury (detail),
An old MacBraynes bus parked on a misty country road.
Susanne Norregard Neilson, The Great Glen Artists Airshow.

The third international artists' airshow

The Great Glen is a huge natural fissure in the earth, encompassing Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal. In September it will be the site for the Great Glen Artists’ Airshow, with activities that redefine the air as medium taking place at either end of it. Previous Arts Catalyst artists airshows, in 2004 and 2007, involved artists flying objects or investigating aeronautical culture. In common with these earlier airshows movement through air and landscape will be explored. Yet this year’s event will be more abstract, redefining the philosophical territory of the air and the ownership, or the mapping of the spatial landscape.
At one end of the Great Glen will be the main site, at the Highland Institute for Contemporary Art (HICA), with activities taking place on nearby Loch Ruthven, in the woodlands and on the open brae, or fell.  At the other end of the Glen will be the unique Utopian venture, London Fieldworks' project Outlandia, a treehouse for artists in the sky, in Glen Nevis. The two-day event should prove a unique, unusual and rewarding participatory art experience.

(Gaelic information available - see menu on left of this page)

New publication now available

A Journey though the Great Glen to the Library of Outlandia, mapped out by Adam Dant, published by The Arts Catalyst for Great Glen Artists Airshow is now available for £3 (inc UK postage and packing).  SATURDAY 18 SEPTEMBER

The Great Glen Artists’ Airshow, free performances and events at HICA

  • an airborne investigation of wind currents above Loch Ruthven by Dutch artists Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum. Polak will be extending her inventive use of global positioning (GPS) technology in her live performance beside the water in this collaboration.  
  • Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson of London Fieldworks will present new work, installed in the woodland behind the loch, which imagines the flight path of birds as augurs, or omens, part of an ancient tradition of divination by birds. This new project was made in collaboration with a former hunter turned bird guide in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest. London Fieldworks are also the creators of Outlandia, the destination of the Sunday bus tour event.  
  • Poet and artist Alec Finlay will read Sky-wheels poems beneath a wind turbine reached through the woodland.
  • Brazilian artist Camila Sposati will create a vast smoke drawing across the horizon of the fell, Yellow Vanishing Point, tracing the landscape, perspectives and contours of the hills, in an ephemeral performance that dissolves into the ether.
  • Participatory flying of 'supremacist kites' by artist, Susanne Norregard Nielsen, suitable for those with kite-flying experience.

Open Air meal at HICA 5-8pm
The Territory of the Air, HICA 6-7.30pm.  Free progamme of talks by artists about the military/industrial and aerospace presence in remote places such as Scotland.

  • Artist, Louise K Wilson will discuss her Spadeadam project in which she attempted to trace the remains of Britain's cancelled space programme, Blue Streak
  • Gair Dunlop will provide insights into his photographic and video work relating to contemporary archaeology of the airfield and his forthcoming project at the nuclear reactor Dounreay
  • Esther Polak will talk about the implications and possibilities of increased civilian uses of GPS technologies
  • Claudia Zeiske, Director, Deveron Arts and cultural activist will talk about Walking and Art, in relation to Huntly’s Walking Festival and the recent residency at Deveron arts by Hamish Fulton


Perambulatory bus tour of the Great Glen, 10am-5pm, conducted by artist Adam Dant, in conversation with The Arts Catalyst curator Rob La Frenais.  This day-long event takes place along the length of the spectacular glen and will reveal unusual and possibly hidden aspects of Loch Ness and the Caledonian canal with the aid of a new ‘aerial map’, Biblioteque Outlandia, devised by Dant.  

The climax of the journey will be the arrival at and the first public unveiling of Outlandia, the tree house for artists, which will be inhabited by Adam Dant in the manner of the Scottish enlightenment. Dant will be the first of many artists to transform the Utopian aerial studio, devised and designed by London Fieldworks as a long-term artists project for Fort William. 

Come Fly With Me: An exploration of the air with artists from the Great Glen Artists Airshow

6.30pm, Tue 24 May 2011, 
The Arts Catalyst, 50-54 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5PS
The Arts Catalyst presents two artists’ projects created during our Great Glen Artists Airshow in 2010, an event that commissioned artists to explore the air as a medium in the spectacular setting of the Great Glen in Scotland, a huge natural fissure in the earth that stretches from Inverness to Fort William.
Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum’s Wall drawing wind - lake version results from an airborne investigation of wind currents above Loch Ruthven. The artists used balloons and GPS (global positioning technology) in a live performance and experiment that took place on this rain-swept Scottish loch. The artists retrieved the GPS systems from the balloons, chasing them down by rowboat, and have mapped their wind-blown paths. Polak was one of the first artists to make large-scale art explorations using GPS mapping. Collaborating with Ivar van Bekkum since 2004 their work continues to find new ways to explore the visualisation of landscape and experience of space, by means of GPS technology.
Augury by London Fieldworks (Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson) was a series of of new video works imagining the flight path of birds as augurs, or omens, part of an ancient tradition of divination by birds. This project was made in collaboration with a former hunter turned bird guide in the Brazilian rainforest and was installed in the woodland behind Loch Ruthven.
The evening premiered a short film by film-maker Ben Dickey, which was shot during the Great Glen Artists Airshow.


The Artists' Airshow is presented by The Arts Catalyst in association the Highland Institute of Contemporary Art (HICA) and Sunday's bus tour created in partnership with London Fieldworks' Outlandia artist's treehouse project in Glen Nevis.


Arts Council England, Scottish Arts Council, Henry Moore Foundation, Mondriaan Foundation, Highland Culture Fund, Brazilian Ministry of Culture, The British Council,
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, H2007, Highland Council and Nevis Partnership

Artists' websites

Esther Polak, Ivar van Bekkum, London Fieldworks, Alec Finlay, Camila Sposati, Susanne Norregard Nielsen, Louise K Wilson, Gair Dunlop, Claudia Zeiske, Adam Dant