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Legend, a temporary publicly sited artwork by Diane Maclean, is the first project in a programme of new work commissioned by Independent Public Arts. The programme is funded by the National Lottery, New Directions.

The Work

Diane Maclean has taken a poem from Alexander Carmichael's book Carmina Gadelica as her starting point and developed a project which utilises the creative talents of a number of individuals from diverse artistic backgrounds.

A new piece of music, a lament in response to the poem, was commissioned and the skills of fabricators, musicians, performers, audio and electronic engineers have been brought together by Diane to complete the project.

The result is an uncompromisingly contemporary artwork, a fusion of creative disciplines and high tech industrial technologies. It will therefore come as a surprise to some people that this is a quiet reflective work, providing the viewer with a sense of place in the landscape; and perhaps more importantly, in the development of the region's unique cultural heritage.

"I want the work to concentrate the attention of the visitor on the nature of the landscape of the Highlands, the Legends that have grown from it and the language in which they have found expression"

Visually the work takes the form of a gleaming metallic line of stainless steel which follows the contours of the terrain, drawing attention to the hillside and the landscape.

As the viewer approaches the work a hidden sensor activates the recorded sound; the composition, played on the pipes and the poem overlaid in Gaelic and English.

Hidden speakers run underneath the steel line, the music and text drawing the viewer along the length of the work's sculptural form. The recording brings the climatic conditions on the hill into play as the wind pulls the lament and poem in and out of focus.

Diane Maclean's starting point was a poem from the Carmina Gadelica, but Legend is not a historical monument. Legend is a product of our times, an unyieldingly contemporary artistic intervention, which is accessible to a wide audience and completely at home in the rural Highland landscape.

Every Force Evolves A Form (Celtic saying)

by Mel Gooding

Diane Maclean's central preoccupations are with the dynamics of natural process, change and time. Her work celebrates the singularity and heterogeneity of things, the infinite variety and specificity of natural objects, the unending differentiations evolved from a common energetic impulse. Her practice directly reflects this phenomenal dynamic: every time and place demands its own response, suggests new possibilities of expression. Her work is the unpremeditated outcome of a special kind of imaginative encounter with material stuff of the world in all its variousness. Her work finds itself in the world as found. She works in places resonant with human usage, busy concourses and places disused or derelict, places of passage of retreat.

Maclean is extraordinarily resourceful and inventive. She has worked with wood, metal, stone, scrapyard junk, found objects, cloth, plastic, paper and fibre optics; she carves, constructs, welds, assembles, combines objects or simply places them in evocative juxtaposition. Maclean's poetic and fugitive manifestations are a function of her way of imagining sculpture, of a creative disposition to respond to a world constantly in flux. Her art presents us with images of flow and transience, recycling and modifying materials, displacing and relocating them in the way of nature itself. Her forms derive from those of nature: especially of water in motion, as wave and cataract, rivulet and whirlpool. She collaborates with natural processes, welcoming abrasion, the cracking of wood, the draught of air that rustles a paper hanging, the flicker of sunlight through trees, the impulse of light as a current moves along a fibre optic tube.

In this respect her work subverts those traditional functions of sculpture that affirm political order and authority, the monumental celebration, in permanence of marble and bronze, of civic and imperial virtue. Maclean takes her place in a distinctive line of modernism, whose essential character is metaphysical, anti-historical and anti-heroic, and which has deliberately confronted civilised pretensions to dominion over nature and time: we may think of artists as different as Duchamp and Schwitters, Rauschenberg, Beuys and Long. Its art is characterised by informality and impermanence, picking up and using materials unsanctioned by artistic usage, urban rubbish and natural debris, industrial and mechanical scrap, cloth and paper, words and actions. It turns up in unexpected places, eschews the signature of personal style. Maclean's work is of this kind: at once ironic and mysterious, it transforms and redeems the ordinary and the unconsidered.