Jac Scott - Excess all areas
Jac Scott harnesses sculpture, photography, film and site-specific installation to explore the West’s cycle of consumption and waste. Liz Shannon meets her
Jac Scott’s new exhibition at the Collins Gallery couldn’t be more perfectly pitched to capture the credit crunch zeitgeist. At a point when many of us are reassessing our expenditure and desire for all types of goods, Excess: Experiments in Living examines consumption in all its forms, from food to material possessions.
Scott is preoccupied with the West’s cycle of consumption and rapid disposal; the creation of so much waste that we don’t know what to do with it. While this echoes many people’s concerns (daily news items on obesity, environmental catastrophe and waste similarly reflect the pertinence of her subject matter), Scott’s work is driven primarily by her own interests. ‘I keep up with current affairs,’ she says, ‘but I’ve been interested in these sorts of ideas for 13 or 14 years. I produce this work to try and understand why we have ended up in this situation.’
The starting point for Scott’s projects is always research: ‘I do lots of reading and investigating – I look at academic books and I visit places. I’ve managed to get permission to visit several landfill sites, which are normally off limits. I talk to people from all sorts of backgrounds – the people working at the landfill sites are great – it’s good to see what’s happening on the ground.’ Then, after a considerable amount of investigation, as Scott says: ‘I get the compulsion and I just have to do it. I really produce the work for myself.’
Scott describes herself as a sculptor – as befits a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors – but interprets this label in the broadest possible sense: as well as sculpture the exhibition includes photography, film and site-specific installation. She explains: ‘My degree was in design craft, specialising in ceramics and textiles. I wrote a book about the use of textile in mixed-media sculpture that helped me to discover what my real palette of materials was. Doing the book confirmed that I wasn’t in fact a textile artist, that I wasn’t interested in just one material. The issues and the concept are the most important things.’ This realisation has dictated a particular method of working. ‘I spend a lot of time doing research, and then I decide what material suits the concept best. This approach means that I’m always having to learn new skills. I subcontract the work out if I don’t have the appropriate level of skill, for instance in metalworking.’
This exhibition is the Cumbria-based artist’s first solo show in Scotland, although her work has featured in several group shows at the Collins Gallery. Excess: Experiments in Living emerged from an invitation to Scott from the gallery’s curator to speak at a Green conference, and will be accompanied by a monograph on her work, including essays that reflect her dual concerns, by a gallerist and an environmentalist.
Despite the potentially depressing subject matter, and the urgent need to find solutions to these problems that we have created for ourselves, Scott doesn’t intend the exhibition to be polemical – she remains non-judgemental. However, she notes: ‘These are things that affect everyone in the world; everyone should really have an interest.’
Jac Scott Excess: Experiments in Living, Collins Gallery, Glasgow, Sat 23 May–Sat 27 Jun.