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Elaine Shemilt

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Nationality  British
Movement  Video Art

Name  Elaine Shemilt
Role  Artist
Elaine Shemilt wwwimpactuweacukbiographiesphotosShemiltEl
Born  May 7, 1954 (1954-05-07) Edinburgh, Scotland
Notable work  Doppelganger (1979) Quattro Minuti di Mezzogiorno (2010)
Education  Royal College of Art, Winchester School of Art
Known for  Video art, Photography, Printmaking

Lifespace elaine shemilt on the scales of life

Elaine Shemilt is an artist and researcher especially known as a fine art printmaker, although hers is not a conventional approach to the medium and her work ranges across a wide variety of media. According to the art historian and theorist Alan Woods: "Her work initially focused on installation, the various printmaking media were used in an attempt to continue and develop the installations by other means. If the event is inevitably lost, a new artwork is launched from it, and as themes and subjects occur and re-occur, their re-generation might usefully be imagined as located within an extended family of images."



Shemilt is a graduate of the Winchester School of Art and the Royal College of Art. She has exhibited internationally including in Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada, USA, Australia, Italy and Germany. In Britain she has exhibited at the Hayward Gallery and the Institute of Contemporary Art in London and at the Edinburgh Festival. She was a pioneer of early feminist video and multi-media installation work alongside her fellow artist and friend Helen Chadwick, who selected her for the Hayward Annual in 1979. Of her early video works, only one has survived: "Doppelgänger" (1979), which was recovered and remastered by the REWIND video art project in 2011.

Shemilt established the Printmaking Department of the School of Fine Art, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (University of Dundee) in 1988 and was Course Director of Printmaking from 1988-2001. She is currently Professor of Fine Art Printmaking and a Professional member of Society of Scottish Artists and was its President from March 2007 – 2010. Shemilt was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2000 and of the Royal Geographical Society in 2009. In 2002 she was made a Shackleton Scholar and was awarded a Carnegie Scholarship. She is a Trustee of the South Georgia Heritage Trust which was established to promote the environmental protection and habitat restoration of this natural wilderness in the Southern Atlantic.

In 1998 Shemilt was invited to lead a project to improve the environment of the military base on the Falkland Isles by the then Commander, Brigadier David Nicholls. The experiences of the staff and student team she put together led inevitably, to independent artworks by all. Four years later in 2002 this led to the exhibition, "Traces of Conflict, The Falklands Revisited 1982-2002" at the Imperial War Museum. Shemilt's work in this exhibition was inspired by the abandoned field hospital at Ajax Bay, and according to the Imperial War Museum Keeper Angela Weight Shemilt "was gripped by the aura of a place where the writ of war did not run and young men were tended irrespective of whether they were friend or foe."

An important strand of her work involves collaboration between Art and Science. Her work with the Genome Diagram developed by Dr Ian Toth and Dr Leighton Pritchard at the Scottish Crop Research Institute resulted in a portfolio of work including installations, digital animation, prints and music.

In recent years, she has collaborated with the video artist Stephen Partridge on a number of installations, including "Rush" first exhibited at the Fieldgate Gallery, London and the most recent, "Quattro Minuti di Mezzogiorno", a HiDefinition Video installation. Exhibited in Fuoriluogo 15 - Una Regressione Motivata, Limiti Inchiusi Arte Contemporanea, Campobasso, Molise, Italy. December 2010, January 2011. The exhibition included work by Fausto Colavecchia (IT), Douglas Gordon (GB), and was curated by Deirdre MacKenna, Director of Stills - Scotland’s centre for photography in Edinburgh.

In 2013 she was awarded a Royal Society of Edinburgh Caledonian European Research Fellowship to study and research in Italy, and is Chair of the international printmaking conference IMPACT 8 held in Dundee in August.

In 2013 Shemilt completed a major SciArt commission for the University of Dundee College of Life Science new Centre for Translational & Interdisciplinary Research building: The Scales of Life which embodies science and the visualization process. She collaborated with the Regius Professor Michael Ferguson and the architect Jo White. On three facades of the CTIR building, 16 columns of large metal cladding panels incorporate her artistic abstractions which represent the 4 key scales of life: Molecular, Organellar, Cellular and Tissue. The cladding panels (1.5m wide x 3.6m high) are made from a high quality anodised aluminium and are arranged vertically into groups of 4 panels. The panels address the essence of the four main scales of Life and the intangibility of their size and dimensions. The visual abstractions reflect both an interpretive aesthetic approach, and the need to retain scientific recognition and accuracy.The main objective of the work is that the series of images reflect in a meaningful way the scientific research being undertaken within the CTIR building. The CTIR was officially opened by Sir Paul Nurse on 1 October 2014.

In 2014 she was awarded £293,590 from the Arts & Humanities Research Council to act as Principal Investigator on the research project European Women's video art in the 70s and 80s (EWVA). A publication associated with the project will be published in early 2018.

Academic Papers/Chapters

  • 'A Blueprint for Bacterial Life; Can A Science-art Fusion Move the Boundaries of Visual and Audio Interpretation?' pp23–32. Chapter in Digital Visual Culture: Theory and Practice, Computers and the History of Art, Editors A. Bentkowska-Kafel, T. Cashen, H. Gardiner, Bristol: Intellect, 2009 ISBN 978-1-84150-248-9
  • AHRC ICT Methods Network Volume 'Art Practice in a Digital Culture', Edited by Charlie Gere, under the title: 'Limited Edition – Unlimited Image: Can a Science/Art Fusion Move the Boundaries of Visual and Audio Interpretation?' Ashgate, 2010
  • Works in Collections

  • "Image in a Bell Jar", 1994, The Harry and Margery Boswell Art Collection, University of St Andrews [3]
  • "Ajax Bay", 1999, FINEART.AC.UK Collection [4]
  • "South Georgia Whaling Stations" [5]
  • Doppelgänger, 1979, REWIND Collection REWIND
  • References

    Elaine Shemilt Wikipedia

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