Cairngorm Mountain – reading a landscape


Issued on behalf of CairnGorm Mountain Trust  Saturday 24th October 2009


Landscape opens up at CairnGorm Mountain

Following a three year build programme, Robert Livingston, Director of Hi Arts officially opened the landscape features at CairnGorm Mountain on Friday 23rd October. Cairn Gorm : Reading A Landscape is a series of three site-specific artworks developed by a team based at the University of Dundee, led by artist, Arthur Watson.

Throughout its three-year build phase the project has been supported by several public and private individuals and agencies including the Scottish Arts Council Lottery Fund, Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Leader +, Scottish Natural Heritage, Cairngorm National Park Authority and Hi-Arts.

Iain Munro, Co-director of Arts Scottish Arts Council said:

‘With its unique location within the National Park, Cairngorm: Reading A Landscape is a fresh, inventive and unique project that will leave a lasting legacy on Cairngorm and its surrounding communities.  We are proud to have contributed towards a project which we feel is of national significance and an excellent example of a partnership approach to an arts project.’ 

Jim Cornfoot, CairnGorm Mountain’s Interpretive Officer said:

“The series of art works is aimed at encouraging visitors to explore and experience the mountain landscape through a range of media and take them to locations on the site that offer different perspectives of the mountain and to consider what lies beyond the horizon.”


A Northern Viewpoint by Prof Will Maclean and Arthur Watson is situated at the entrance to the Cairn Gorm car park overlooking Badenoch and Strathspey towards the mountains of the North and West. Water from three streams flows under bronze plates which carry quotes from James MacPherson’s Ossianic poetry before cascading down natural stone buttresses, which echo the architecture of the mountain itself. A path above the car park leads to a central staircase with seating and a soundscape by Stanley Robertson – the “master storyteller of the travelling people”. The stonework was built by local mason, Kenny Maklin of Aviemore with groundworks and civil engineering undertaken by GF Job.

Further to the south, beyond the Wild Mountain Garden is Mountain to Sea – Beyond Site, a video projection and camera obscura by Lei Cox and Mel Woods. The work is housed in The Dark Room, a new building by Perthshire architect Fergus Purdie incorporating a camera system built by George T Keene in Los Angeles (and installed by him on Cairn Gorm). The visitor will experience a changing view of the Mountain as the camera lens slowly rotates then alternates with the video work by Woods and Cox. The work charts four seasonal journeys made over the course of a year from Cairn Gorm to the coast, following each of the four cardinal compass points. Twelve equidistant points were measured along each directional axis, locations chosen not for their picturesque qualities but rather by their linear position in location to the Mountain.

In the Base Station of the Mountain Railway is a series of works in word and image by Arthur Watson and Andy Rice. Snow Words: Hollow of the Snow is on the station concourse – a large tonal woodcut encircled by a glossary of words for conditions of snow and ice in Scots, Gaelic and the cant of lowland travellers. Hidden Corries: Drawing Dangerously celebrates a cumulative poetry of climbers’ route names surrounding screenprinted images of the crags which they traverse.



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