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Terra Nullius | Angela Gilmour at Custom House Gallery

Exhibition running dates: 8th January – 5th February 2024

Angela Gilmour’s artistic practice highlights the urgency of climate change, land consumption, sustainability and the political and environmental impact of land and sea borders. Primarily a painter, Gilmour’s work also includes drawing, print, photography and installation.

Through a blend of site-specific investigation and scientific research, Gilmour (trained as a physicist) creates paintings, drawings, large-scale photography and etchings to document the sublime beauty created by the entropic forces of weathering on landscapes. Her installations weave scientific equipment and objects of geological importance with detailed botanical drawings, and screen-printed technical diagrams and research data.

Gilmour’s current research investigates the history of Svalbard, in the High Arctic. This Arctic archipelago of nine main islands has often been referred to as Terra Nullius, a term applied by international law to describe an inhabited landmass that is not owned by a single country. Svalbard, a land of extraordinary beauty and fragility, lies at the nexus of politics, science, and Earth’s most extreme climatic changes. Located a mere 10 degrees latitude from the North Pole, it is one of the planet’s most remote locations.
Gilmour’s recent work chronicles the historical importance of Svalbard, with its beginnings in the Devonian age, some 380 million years ago. It was during the Devonian that Earth’s first forests formed, and subsequently, those forests carbonized and became fossil fuels millions of years later. In the 16th century, European explorers landed on Svalbard and the unique Svalbard treaty granted sovereignty to Norway in 1920. Climate change is hastening glacial melting in Svalbard, and the archipelago is in the midst of complex and perilous political and environmental challenges that will impact the archipelago into the future.

Using Svalbard as a focus, Gilmour’s work explores narratives that question our ability to balance progress with the preservation of the environment.

install 3
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