EWVA European Women's Video Art
Elaine Shemilt is an artist and researcher, especially known as a fine art printmaker. 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.
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.
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