Elaine Shemilt

Elaine Shemilt is an artist and researcher, especially known as a fine art printmaker.[1] Her work ranges across a wide variety of media. However hers is not a conventional approach to the medium. According to the art historian and theorist Alan Woods: “Her work ranges across a wide variety of media. Initially it 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.”
She is a graduate of Winchester School of Art and the Royal College of Art and has exhibited internationally including Switzerland, Denmark, Holland, Canada, USA, Australia, Italy and Germany including the Hayward and the Institute of Contemporary Art, London; and the Edinburgh Festival. She exhibited three works in the Video Show at the Serpentine Gallery in 1975. (See list of works)
In the early 1970s, 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 intact: “Doppelganger” (1979), which was recovered and re-mastered by the REWIND video art project in 2011.
She 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.

In 1998 she 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.”
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 awarded a Carnegie Scholarship. Shemilt is the Artistic Director of the Centre for remote Environments at the University of Dundee and the Vice Chair 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. This involves her in a not-for-profit multi million pound research to protect the natural and historical heritage of the Island of South Georgia, sponsored by private and Government funding.. In parallel with this activity she has made a number of installation works the most recent of which were exhibited in Melbourne Australia in September/ October 2011.

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. This ongoing current research project started in 2004 collaboration with the Sanger Institute has led to a series of exhibitions of prints, digital film installation and sound-scapes.
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 – Scotlandís centre for photography in Edinburgh.

  • Interview of Elaine Shemilt

    View the interview transcript here

  • Exhibitions:

    1975
    The Video Show, Serpentine Gallery, London :
    Art into Protest, Castle Hill Reading Berkshire

    1976

    Winchester Association, Guildhall, Winchester
    Acme Gallery, London

    1977

    International Print Biennale, National Gallery, Singapore
    Gulbenkian Gallery, Royal College of Art, London

    1978

    New Contemporaries, Institute of Contemporary Art, London (installation)
    London Polytechnic
    5th British International Print Biennale, Cartwright Hall

    1979

    Minories, Colchester (prints)
    Hayward Annual, Hayward Gallery London (installation – Ancient Death Ritual)

    1980

    Fifty Years of Printmaking at the RCA, Royal College of Art, London
    Hexagon Gallery, Reading
    Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
    International Festival of Women Artists, Film Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark
    Edinburgh Festival, Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh

    1981

    Performances South Hill Park Arts Centre
    Fylde Arts Association
    One person Show, South Hill Park Main Gallery, Berkshire

    1982

    Arteder ’82 Muestra International, De Arte Grafico, Bilbao, Spain
    Solo Show, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Berkshire

    1983

    Freeze Frame – The Womenís City Art Exhibition, Royal College of Art
    The Nude, Cheltenham

    1984

    First fellows Exhibition. The Winchester Gallery
    Aspects Gallery, Exeter
    Tom Allen Centre, London
    Dundee Printmakers Workshop

    1985

    Contemporary Printmaking, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
    Compass Gallery, Glasgow
    Edinburgh RSA
    Macmanus Museum and Art Gallery, Dundee

    1986

    Compass Gallery, Glasgow
    Hull College of Art
    An exhibition of International Printmakers, Landesbank, Stuttgart

    1987

    Royal Festival Hall, London
    150th Anniversary Exhibition of Printmaking from the Royal college of Art, Barbican Gallery, London
    Aberdeen Artists Society
    Petersfield Arts Council
    Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
    RSA Diploma Galleries
    Kingfisher Gallery, Edinburgh

    1988

    Stamford Theatre and Arts Centre
    Gallerie Twerenbold, Lucerne, Switzerland
    Andrew Jones Gallery
    The Day Book Touring Exhibition
    Bradford Print Biennale
    Seagate Gallery, Dundee
    Solo Exhibition. Bellfrie Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark
    11th International Bradford Print Biennale (invited artist)

    1989

    Paperworks Seagate Gallery, Dundee
    Society of Scottish Artists, Edinburgh
    Seagate Gallery, Christmas Exhibition
    The Collective Gallery, Edinburgh

    1990

    The Small Women’s Photography Exhibition,
    Mansion Arts Centre, London (Touring)
    Kindred Spirits, Ancrum Gallery
    Kindred Spirits, Matthew Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art
    Frameworks, BDP Exhibition, Preston (touring)
    11th International Bradford Print Biennale (touring)
    McManus Gallery Group Staff Exhibition
    The Twerenbold Gallery, Lucerne, Switzerland
    Lumley-Cazalet Gallery, Kensington

    1991

    12th International Bradford Print Biennale, Royal College of Art
    Lumley-Cazalet Gallery, London
    Twerenbold Gallery, Lucerne, Switzerland
    Buxton Museum & Art Gallery, “Frameworks”
    Chancellors Gallery, Keele

    1992

    Janus Avivson Gallery, Chalk Farm, London
    SSA, Edinburgh
    Barbican, London Group
    Scotland in New Europe Demarco Gallery East European Foundation, Edinburgh Festival

    1993

    Three Dimensional Printmakers, Bonnington Gallery, Nottingham (installation)
    RSA Annual Exhibition (Print)
    SSA Annual Exhibition
    Seagate Gallery (Installation)
    International Print Biennale, Maastricht
    Printworks, Seagate Gallery, Dundee
    Stones in Her Pockets, ACAW, London
    Special Photographers Gallery, London (Prints)

    1994

    Stoke Hanley Museum and Art Gallery, Staffordshire
    Mary Ward Centre, Bloomsbury, London
    Courtauld Gallery, London
    Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow
    Prints accompanying Thursday’s Child Folio (Child Psychotherapy Trust Scotland)
    National Gallery of Modern Art (Thursday’s Child Folio)
    Seagate Gallery, Dundee
    Phillips Gallery, Glasgow
    The RSA 1994 Annual Exhibition (Prints)
    Gallerie Centre d’Art en L’Ile, Geneva
    Edinburgh Festival (Richard Demarco European Art Foundation)
    Seagate Gallery Paperworks V
    SSA Annual Exhibition
    Stones in Her Pockets, A.C.A.W. Derby & Birmingham

    1995

    The R.S.A. Annual Exhibition
    Gathering Group Show, Galerie Beeldspraak, Amsterdam
    Repossessed, St Magnus Festival, a Solo Exhibition which accompanied the Festival Poet, Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Poems
    Select One, Special Photographers Library Exhibition

    1996

    Lamont Gallery, London
    Brave Art Glasgow Mayfest Exhibition Group Show
    Networking, Group Exhibition, Ten Scottish Printmakers, Edinburgh Festival
    Contemporary Scottish Art, Louise Smith Gallery, Toronto, Prints
    RGI Annual Exhibition.

    1997

    Hogmanay Festival, The Richard Demarco East Europe Foundation
    A Millennium Bestiary publication by Faculty of Art and Design, University of the West of England, touring exhibition.
    The S.S.A. In Aberdeen, Touring Exhibition 1997, Peacock Art Space,
    Grampian Hospitals Art Trust Gallery
    Behind Appearance, touring Exhibition to: Kansas State University Gallery, Carbondale State University, New Orleans State University, Moorhead State University, The Seagate Gallery, Dundee, last tour venue.
    The Glasgow Art Fair.
    The Seagate Gallery, ëJarí Group Show
    The Richard Demarco East European Art Foundation, Exhibition of Archives .

    1998

    CHIMERA four channel 8 screen video projection onto latex for the Society of Scottish Artists, Annual Exhibition, Royal Academy Building, Edinburgh. In collaboration with Stephen Partridge.

    1999

    ëChimeraí Dundee Contemporary Arts, selected for the opening of DCA, Centrespace, Dundee also at Cooper Gallery, DJCAD, Dundee and Dick Institute Kilmarnock, July

    2000

    8th Biennale de LíImage en Mouvement, Saint Gervais, Geneva, Switzerland
    re:Identify, Crawford Arts Centre, St Andrews
    Peacock Gallery, Aberdeen
    European Media Art Festival, Osnabruck, Germany
    Demarco/70/2000 University of Kingston, Edinburgh City Art Gallery, Ruskin Museum Conniston, Oxford Brookes University.
    Expressions, McManus Gallery, Dundee
    Solo Exhibition, Meffan Gallery, Forfar, ‘Fragments’ multimedia installation and digital prints

    2001

    RSA 2001 Annual Exhibition, Edinburgh
    XIII Bienal Salon Internacional, Puerto Rico
    In-Print, Contemporary Printmaking, Quay Art, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
    Howard Gardens Gallery, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff

    2002

    Traces of Conflict, Imperial War Museum, London
    RSA 2002 Annual Exhibition, Mclellan Galleries, Glasgow
    Digital Mini Print Exhibition, Centre for Fine Print Research UWE, Bristol
    Beyond Conflict, Richard Demarco European Art Foundation Touring Show, opening at Commonwealth Games Manchester

    2003

    Legacy/Images of South Georgia, Lamb Gallery, University of Dundee
    RSA 2003 Annual Exhibition, City Arts Centre, Edinburgh
    Incisone di Chieri, Trienale, Turin. Italy. (Printmaking Triennial)

    2004

    Body Memory Leibgedachtnis, The Art Academy, Warsaw, Poland. Waschhaus, Potsdam, Germany. The Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee.
    Legacy, An installation of digital imaging and traditional etching. VRC, Dundee Contemporary Arts.

    2005

    A Hundred Women Paint the Sea, VRC, DCA, Dundee

    2006

    A Blueprint For Bacterial Life And Art – Visual Research Centre, Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre, 16th March 2006; Singapore Biopolis Centre, 14th January 2006; International Erwinia Workshop, Dundee. 7-9 July 2006. International Conference on Plant Pathogenic Bacteria, Edinburgh. 10-14, July 2006.

    2007
    Rush, a joint work with Stephen Partridge, two channel hi-definition video projection. Exhibited in ANALOGUE a group exhibition curated by Chris Meigh Andrews at the Fieldgate Gallery, London, 24 November – 16 December.

    2010

    The Dry Valleys: The dry valleys of Antarctica interpreted through variable Media. Visual Research Centre, DCA, March 6 – 21.
    Quattro Minuti di Mezzogiorno, HiDefinition Video installation. a joint work with Stephen Partridge. Exhibited in Una Regressione Motivata, Limiti Inchiusi Arte Contemporanea, Campobasso, Molise, Italy. December 18 – January 23, 2011.

    2011

    Antarctic Journeys: The Dry Valleys and South Georgia. 7 Sepetmber- 18th October, La Trobe Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo, VC Australia and Wroclaw Academy of Fine Arts, Poland 10th January- 10th February 2012.

  • Videography:

    1974 Iamdead
    1975 Conflict
    1975 Emotive Progression
    1976 Art into Protest
    1978 Constraint
    1979-81 Doppelgänger
    1984 Women Soldiers
    1999 Chimera (4-channel 8 screen installation)
    1999 Chimera (Colour stereo widescreen video)
    2006 Blueprint (High definition colour animation)
    2007 Rush (with Stephen Partridge)
    2011 Quattro Minuti di Mezzogiorno (with Stephen Partridge)

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