I make art that grows out of an engagement with specific contexts. It is a relational art practice that takes into account the wider ecology of people and place. In recent years I have focused on marine-based environments and socio-ecological issues associated with them. This has involved working within contexts such as a marine-mammal research station, an island fishing community, coastal towns, and responding to ideas around energy production and sustainability.
I work across a wide range of media such as video, sound, sculpture, digital, light, interactive and photography. Since participating in a unique art-science expedition with the organisation Cape Farewell in 2011, which involved sailing to the Western Isles of Scotland to explore ideas around sustainability and existing island knowledge, I have sought opportunities to create new work in relation to other marine environments and in relation to the act of making journeys.
During the past two summers I have joined art-science expeditions organised by The Clipperton Project. The first one involved sailing between the the Azores and Gran Canaria, which took eight days, and the second was a group expedition paddling down the Usumacinta River, Mexico for three weeks. I am currently making new works from this audio and video material, which will be exhibited in 2015. Prior to that, in summer 2012, I was artist-in-residence at a marine-mammal research station in Cromarty, Scotland. I produced several short films in response to that coastal environment and the work being undertaken by marine biologists, the main film being Dead Reckoning which has been shown at several video festivals.
Over the past few years, since meeting on the Cape Farewell expedition, I have collaborated with social ecologist Ruth Brennan (Scottish Association for Marine Sciences, Oban) on producing several works. These include a publication (Belonging to the Sea), an online cultural map of the sea (Sea Stories: Barra), and the recent film Clyde Reflections commissioned by Imagining Natural Scotland.
My approach to making work is to remain open to possibilities. This extends to ways of working with people and place as well as to exploring connections between art, science and technology. I enjoy the innovative possibilities that exist within the cross-overs and meeting points of specialist areas. Since 2000 I have explored digital media by employing the skills of a digital expert and computer programmer, Bob Farrell. This has resulted in several innovative public artworks that includes the first permanent outdoor video projection artwork in the UK (One Hundred Books, Leeds), a permanent light-based installation that responds directly to wind speed and wind direction (The Sound of the Wind Looks Like This, Blackpool), a permanent light-based installation that responds to sound levels in a city centre (The Rings, Glasgow) and a sound-based gallery installation that taps into live seismic data around the world, via the internet, and translates it directly into sound and associated waveforms (Beneath and Beyond: Seismic Sounds).
Stephen Hurrel works with video, sound, sculpture and text to explore relationships between people and place. His work often connects with science and technology to record interactions and tensions between nature and contemporary society.
Aside from his gallery-based practice Hurrel creates context-based work that responds to specific geographic locations. These have taken the form of time-based works in a range of materials and media, such as videos and digital works as well as permanent public art installations.
He has shown in galleries, contemporary art festivals and public spaces in Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand. He has undertaken several art residencies including a one year Australian Residency. This year he had three solo exhibitions during his Timespan residency, North Sea Hitch, which was part of Generation – 25 years of Contemporary Art in Scotland. The final exhibition, titled The Sea, The Sails and the White, White Blades was a three-screen video installation that reflects on the past, present and future of the area. Its particular focus is on relationships between people, the sea and various energy industries that exist in the north-east coast of Scotland.
He studied at Glasgow School of Art, Sculpture Department, and lives and works in Glasgow. He has been visiting lecturer at several art institutes in the UK, Europe and Australia. He was a part-time lecturer at Glasgow School of Art and at Valand School of Art, Gothenburg, Sweden where he was also Course Leader of MA in Context & Media (2004-2007).
He has been the recipient of several major awards including an SAC Creative Scotland Award (2006), an Art Foundation Fellowship Award, London (2008), Creative Scotland First In A Lifetime Award (2012)
Completed Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art (Highly Commended) following BA Hons Fine Art, Sculpture Dept., The Glasgow School of Art, Scotland
Selected Exhibitions & Events
Clyde Reflections by Hurrel and Brennan, premiere screening at CCA, Glasgow (11th Sept)
North Sea Hitch three solo shows at Timespan, Helmsdale as part of GENERATION: 25 years of Contemporary Art in Scotland (June-Sept)
Alchemy Film & Media Festival The Borders, Scotland
Sea Change Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (Cape Farewell group exhibition, Nov -Jan 14)
Walk & Talk, Azores outdoor text piece Sea-Stars-Tears and film screening (July)
Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI), Manchester, Beneath and Beyond – Solo (April to June)
Modern Edinburgh Film School Talbot Rice Gallery screenings by Alex Hetherington (June)
Sublime Residency Exhibition (Sept), Lighthouse Field Station, Cromarty followed by screenings of Dead Reckoning at Sonica Festival CCA Glasgow, Sublime Event at Inverness Cathedral and OilScapes Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen, Exhibition Film Programme (10th Oct)
Soundwave ((5)) Festival San Francisco, USA (August)
Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Beneath & Beyond in Environmental Dialogues Programme
One-Minute-Manifesto spoken word, AHM Symposium, Royal National Galleries, Edinburgh
Pixxelpoint 11th International New Media Festival, Slovenia & Italy
Understory Devenport Regional Gallery and Plimsoll Gallery, Tasmania, Australia
John Cage Musicircus Event, Tramway, Glasgow
FestArte Video Art Festival Gallery Macro Testaccio, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome
Art Geo – Drive to Reconnect the Cultural and the Natural Schlosspark, Cologne, Germany
Turbulent Terrain Latrobe Gallery, Victoria, Australia
Beneath and Beyond Tramway, Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Visual Art
Beyond Solo Show, Taigh Chearsabhagh, North Uist, Scotland (2006)
Colour Memory GSS Gallery for Glasgow International 2005
City Dreaming CCA offsite commission at Mitchell Library for Glasgow International 2005
Awards & Residencies
Timespan artist residency, Helmsdale, Scotland (June-August 2014)
Sublime artist residency at Lighthouse Field Station, Cromarty, Scotland (IOTA, Inverness, Summer 2012)
Creative Scotland First In A Lifetime Award working in collaboration with social ecologist Ruth Brennan and local people to produce Sea Stories: Barra, an online cultural map of the sea, island of Barra, Outer Hebrides (2012-13)
Hope Scott Trust award to develop work for Soundwave ((5)), San Francisco (2012)
The Arts Foundation Fellowship Award, London (2008)
SAC Creative Scotland Award (2006)
SAC Australian Residency, 12 months (1997/98)
Imagining Natural Scotland commission for Creative Scotland to produce collaborative art-science film (2013-2014)
Cape Farewell Film Commission based on island of Barra (2012-2013)
Centre of Contemporary Arts (CCA) / Glasgow International, site piece for Gi (2005)
London Printworks Trust, site-specific works for Vauxhall Cross, London (2000)
Tramway@ series of site commissions, Glasgow (1999)
Festival of Contemporary Art, Canberra, Australia (1999)
Hobart Fringe Festival Commissioned by HFF & Plimsoll Gallery, Tasmania (1998)
Permanent Public Art Commissions
New Gorbals Housing Association, Glasgow (Event:space, 2013)
Sligo County Council, Salmon Point, Ireland (Hold Fast, Hang Ten, 2009)
Hydro Consulting Tasmania HQ, Australia (SCAPE, 2008)
Glasgow City Council & Buchanan Galleries, entrance atrium of Buchanan Galleries (The Rings, 2004)
Blackpool Borough Council, South Shore Promenade (The Sound of the Wind Looks Like This, 2003)
Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, England (One Hundred Books, 2002)