New exhibition showcasing Scottish landscapes to go on display in Venice

20 April 2023
From the forests around Loch Ness, the seashore of the Orkney archipelago, and the industrialised remnants of the Ravenscraig steelworks, the project takes visitors on a journey through three Scottish landscapes across the Highlands, Islands and Lowlands.

Highlighting cultures and languages that have a close affinity with the landscapes of Scotland, A Fragile Correspondence explores alternative perspectives and new approaches to the challenges of the worldwide climate emergency.

Taking inspiration from The Laboratory of the Future organised by La Biennale Architettura and curated by Scottish-Ghanian architect Lesley Lokko, writers, artists and architects, in correspondence with these landscapes, explore issues distinctly rooted in place but with global relevance to the cultural, ecological and climatic issues that we face. 

Commissioned by the Scotland + Venice partnership and curated by the Architecture Fringe, -ism, and /other, A Fragile Correspondence will be on show 20 May - 26 November 2023 at the Arsenale Docks (Cantieri Cucchini, S. Pietro di Castello, 40, 30122) situated between the Giardini and Arsenale.

A journey across Scotland

In Loch Ness with the Highlands as the genesis for modern, romanticised world tourism, the exhibition explores how internationalised capital and commercial extraction affects the biodiversity, cultural identity and environmental sustainability of the land in a local context. 

In Orkney the work examines how the local population have for centuries negotiated the forces of nature, in particular the dynamic and powerful sea, as an example of an evolving relationship between people and place anchored in a deep understanding of the natural environment and steeped in community resilience. 

At Ravenscraig, in the Lowlands, the exhibition presents the contemporary landscape, often unseen as a moment between somewhere and nowhere, as a place of authenticity and a resurgent natural landscape. 

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Visitor experience 

Situated adjacent to the dock with open views to the canal and city beyond, the exhibition is arranged into four distinct areas with visitors being gently guided through the landscapes of Loch Ness, Orkney, and Ravenscraig before reaching the reading room and project lexicon. 

Each landscape is introduced through chosen words and language with a bespoke research wall of archive and contemporary imagery, printed materials and artefacts. Large-scale monitors display specially commissioned films presenting the landscapes through poetic audio and moving image with contributions from the curatorial teams and exhibition participants.

Andy Summers of the Architecture Fringe said: “The exhibition explores the site of the former Ravenscraig Steelworks, which at the time of its closure in 1992 was the largest hot strip steel mill in Western Europe. Ravenscraig’s current industrial landscape is commonly perceived through binary understandings of being between somewhere and nowhere, where its authentic contemporary state is often unseen. Our work here recognises Ravenscraig as a place of authenticity and value, as a resurgent natural landscape full of memory and stories. By looking differently we can start to see and recognise its future as a potential community asset - a site of leisure and environmental rebalancing.”

For more information, visit the project website.

Report and images copyright The Architecture Fringe.