Exhibition: River Deep Mountain High

RIVER DEEP MOUNTAIN HIGH – Archives to Artworks
An exhibition to mark the Year of Coast and Water curated by Archive Services at the University of Dundee. Artists and creative writers were invited to respond to the University’s rich collections on the themes of rivers, seas, coasts and mountains. Original photographs, journals, plans and specimens relating to whaling, the River Tay, the natural world and mountaineering have inspired jewellery, artwork, sculpture, poetry and much more.
Opening on 7th February at 5pm the exhibition runs from 8th February to 11th April in the Lamb Gallery, Tower Building, University of Dundee.
When rummaging through the incredible collection that had been curated for us in the archives I was immediately captivated as to what the story was behind these quirky wooden wheeled beach huts on these beautiful glass plates, which date back to the summer of 1913. I am ever so slightly obsessed with drawing wooden huts, cabins and curious buildings so it would probably come as no surprise to anyone who knows my work that I would be drawn to them.
It transpired that these huts were in fact bathing boxes. In those days it was required that you should be covered from neck to knee with a bathing costume. These boxes allowed women to to be discreet. They would enter the box, change into their costume and once the box (pulled by a horse) was at wave height they could hop into the sea without revealing a thing.
Times have changed dramatically since then with no such discretion on the beaches anymore. I wanted to play with that contrast and with my continuing theme of Sunny Dundee that I have been working on over the last year or so. This topic seems even more perfect now that Dundee is due to get its very own city beach!
I wanted to create a fun scene with a 50’s style poster backdrop that advertises Sunny Dundee as the place to holiday – throughout the ages – with the contrasting Victorian bathing boxes in the foreground. The diorama contains modern day elements too – including the clever Dundee branding that came about in 2018 to promote our city as the perfect tourist destination #SunnyDundee.
A bit more info about bathing boxes from Cronshaw’s book on Broughty Ferry…
Archive info on the glass plates: