Alchemy Image Gallery

To read more about the Alchemy, Moving Image Artist Residencies, click the box below.


Alchemy, Moving Image Artist Residencies
linked to the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival

June-October 2011

The 2011 Festival, held 21-23 October, offered a number of funded residencies of two weeks duration for moving image artists at any stage of their career to explore landscape and the four elements of earth, air, fire and water, whether interpreted literally, metaphorically – individually or collaboratively. The residencies were scheduled for July and August of that year at two rural locations, Heriot Toun and Phenzhopehaugh, in the Scottish Borders.


Emma Osbourn comes from the Fens of Lincolnshire, an area that she felt was a very ‘man made’ controlled landscape. In contrast, she chose to concentrate her residency on Phenzhopehaugh, an isolated location 11 miles west of Hawick. Her proposal, entitled ‘Stitched Earth’, was to undertake experimental work, contrasting a ‘man-made’ landscape with a landscape formed by the interaction of natural elements, water, fire, air. She questioned what a ‘woman-made’ landscape would look like – would it be stitched, patched, embroidered? Would narrow streams be darned, branches sutured, earth blanket-stitched?  She had already been experimenting with cine film, which can be sewn into then projected and digitised.

Her practice questions the boundaries of art and craft, masculine and feminine, analogue and digital, haptic and optical… Emma’s work reinforces the modern tradition of moving image and the much older tradition of women working in textiles as both necessity and as decoration. It also references utility, contrasting masculine/feminine labour.

“The residency extended my practice as I worked in a combination of textile and video. There had always been a film/video piece I had wanted to make about the Fens and the time, space and discipline of being able to concentrate on my work gave me the impetus and confidence to tackle this piece. I presented the new work at an academic conference and have also been invited to present it at Edinburgh University and at The National Centre for Craft and Design. The finished work was shown at the 2012 Alchemy festival and I have made a Pecha Kucha from it. The work also showed at Northlight in Dunbar through the contacts I made. As a result of the residency, I’m currently working on a piece of research based on landscape and sound. Overall, I got much more from the residency than I had expected. I produced two new pieces of work and I still have lots of material to work from. Such a valuable experience.”


Rocio Von Jungenfeld also selected Phenzhopehaugh as a focus for her proposal, ‘Like Fish in Sand’. Rocio is an intermedia artist who works on installations and outdoor interventions with digital/audiovisual material and traditional media such as photography, weaving, and printmaking. Her proposal for the Alchemy residency was to create material for an audiovisual installation, which investigated the physical contact of skin with nature and distorted the image of these investigations through projecting onto uneven surfaces, and thereby transferring the image back to the medium (water, sand).

Her aim was to produce delicate moving images that are abstracted from the context and that would function as a magnifying glass into the relation between skin and nature.

“The residency provided me with the space to develop new approaches to installation space and to bring back to indoor spaces the natural elements.

Creative practice is a process, and every piece (even sketches, mock-ups and ideas) has an impact on future creative endeavours and artistic development. The residency offered me the opportunity of exploring and combining video, performance and materiality, and of translating this into a coherent installation space. The experience has strengthened my confidence in my creative practice, my ability to deal with the challenges of working with technology and my understanding of collaboration and interdisciplinary boundaries. For the audiovisual piece created during the residency, the practice-based research approach led to a series of discoveries about the materials I was working with, about lenses and mirroring images, about materiality and projection, about perception, motion and positioning. These discoveries have aided the conceptualisation and development of new pieces, and will continue feeding in and nourishing my practice and artistic research in the future.  Exploring natural spaces is a rewarding experience and being offered the time and space to reflect and build on this relationship with nature is essential to eco-technological futures.”


Alice Betts chose Heriot Toun Studio as the location for her residency, which would enable her to explore the different locations around the studio and develop her film making – a medium which was relatively new to her at the time.

Her proposal ‘here now gone now’, would allow her to create footage of mysterious time based interventions in the landscape. Footage would be collated to create a narrative both light and dark, exploring absence and presence, and a person’s impact in a given environment.  In using smoke and balloons (pockets of breathed air) as both aesthetic devices and metaphors for human presence, life and death, opposites etc., the work related in particular to air and fire. All four elements would be investigated and explored through creative processes, forming the context and content of experiments.

“My aim was to experiment with small explosions and smoke bombs in the woods to create a film piece which would explore the idea of presence and absence; and what happens when I arrive/leave/look? …thereby exploring what is a person’s mental relationship with the space and nature around them and themselves in it.  I was able to spend time in new locations experimenting and exploring ideas.  Also, in practical terms as a beginner in using film/video, it allowed me to experiment and get practice in handling equipment.  Out of this time, new work developed and a new understanding of the ideas that are important in my work. The particular environment of plantation forest turned out to be perfect for this train of investigation as it is eerie and strange, almost lifeless at ground level, so it contributed to the stark, dark, slightly existential side of the work.

The time allowed me to make a transition from making temporary art in landscape, where the documentation is essential but is not the art, to filming the creative processes and experimentation, where the footage becomes both the documentation and the art itself.  I had had the ideas for the work I wanted to conduct for over three years, without the opportunity to carry them out, to experiment and develop them. The residency was much needed in allowing me to move in the direction I want to go with my work. I produced two new pieces of work: one film installation piece for the festival, and one mirror installation in the woods.  A residency is always a priceless opportunity to develop. The base location at Heriot Toun was 5 star - excellent hospitality and understanding from Pat and Andy Law. Support from Mary Morrison and her colleague Robert Sproul-Cran was also excellent and contributed to my being able to fulfil my goals.”