Working with other artists, researchers and specialists as well as industry practitioners, archives, creative organisations and the wider public Gordon Munro and Ewan Robertson began exploring the creative potential of iron in 2011 via different practice-based research projects that have led towards Iron: Mapping Material Practice.

Iron is elemental, one of the most ubiquitous materials on the planet. Constant and present in different forms and scales from its presence in the blood in our bodies to the fearsome churning innards of stars.

Through re-examining iron's multiple facets and roles within and out-with art, this project seeks to use creative routes and practices to map unusual territories and potentialities through art practice. Seeking also to unveil diverse perspectives and understandings of the physical world around us and explore deeper creative potential and complexity in a singular material.

Cloud Dialogue at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop's Creative Laboratories, 2016
Image: Ewan Robertson
Cloud Dialogue setup at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop's Creative Laboratories, 2016

Through re-examining iron's multiple facets and roles within and out-with art, this project seeks to use creative routes and practices to map unusual territories and potentialities through art practice.

Project aims

  • To explore and map diverse areas where iron has (had) an influence on creative practice, thinking and wider culture.
  • To disseminate findings creatively via artefacts, discussion, film and artist publications.
  • To develop and cultivate new areas of crossover and collaboration.
  • To develop diverse methodologies for teaching and research via creative practice and thinking.
  • To test creative assumptions about iron as a material and related its physical phenomena.

Previous practice

Previous collaboration between Munro and Robertson led to Cloud Dialogue, a multi-component, inter-connectable sculptural installation that explores space and physicality. It has been widely shown in different spaces and contexts from a former monastery in Erkelenz, Germany (2011) to The Glasgow International (G.I. 2014)

Still from Rachel Nolan’s commissioned film Iron: Origins and Destinations, 2017
Image: Rachel Nolan
Still from Rachel Nolan’s commissioned film Iron: Origins and Destinations, 2017
wasps hovering on iron
Image: Rachel Nolan
Still from Rachel Nolan’s commissioned film Iron: Origins and Destinations, 2017

Recent work

Iron: Origins and Destinations which was funded by Research, Knowledge Exchange and Outreach (a department within Edinburgh College of Art), incorporated an exhibition, symposium, iron casting workshop and curated filmed material that summarised and disseminated many of the research areas Munro and Robertson have been exploring as part of Iron: Mapping Material Practice.

Diverse areas like insect navigation, meteorites, haematology, industrial archaeology have all been drawn upon. Reflection, discussion and writing also punctuates the research cultivating further links, crossovers and understandings into creative practice thinking. Iron: Origins and Destinations ran between 6th - 20th May 2017.

Upcoming

Focussing on the Carron Iron Works and the global impact of this industry Munro and Robertson are currently making new work that explores Falkirk Community Development Trust’s archives which will be shown at Callendar House, Falkirk between Jan and May 2018.

Would you like to get involved in research at ECA?

We are always looking for research partners and participants. If you are interested in getting involved in research at Edinburgh College of Art, please contact our Research, Knowledge Exchange and Outreach (RKEO) Office by emailing ECA.rkeo@ed.ac.uk.

We also offer a range of research-led postgraduate programmes. Find out more.


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