The Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 22 Dec
The Collective Gallery’s annual New Work Scotland exhibition this year showcases, among others, the work of Dundee-based artist Jason Nelson. Born in the ex-mining town of Kelty in Fife, Nelson explores how his adult identity has been informed by this upbringing. Since completing his studies in Dundee, Nelson has returned to Kelty to find inspiration for a substantial body of work, including illustrative etchings, screen-prints, performances and videos. In all these works Nelson documents real episodes and stories taken from daily life, introducing us to a range of different characters along the way.
While there is clearly respect for his hometown here, Nelson does not present us with an idealistic view of life in Kelty; many of his stories are smattered with tragedy, alongside their delicate and dry humour. He also presents the deliberately harsh and unromantic setting of the place, often aptly recreated in black and white, as an ideal backdrop for the unfiltered honesty of his soap opera-like events. At the root of Nelson’s practice then, is a fascination with the atmospheres and identities conjured up by effective story telling, be they stories of the ordinary or extraordinary. The Collective Gallery promisingly describes him as ‘a natural storyteller, who can uncover day-to-day episodes of life in a simple truthful Scottish patter.’