Vend: the inner workings
You explore, unclear at first, unsure what you are seeking. You experience the depths of the woodland, the outcome uncertain.
You are rewarded for your intrepid commitment with a 'free' artwork, made of wood, dispensed from deep in the forest. It is unexpected, an adventure, but represents a pleasing circularity. You have exited through the gift shop, but the real gifts are the questions and connections you now carry with you.
At its core, Vend encourages reflection and discussion about how we commoditise and value contemporary art and the natural world. Increasingly, we package both art and nature for our own convenience. We take a lot from the natural world as we move through it, and we take a lot for granted from the arts too. The way we behave is transactional, but not necessarily reciprocal.
By meaningfully situating Vend in its woodland location, it can help us unpack the specific value of the rural contemporary too. We have certain preconceived expectations of a visit to the forest, and certain preconceived expectations of rural artwork and artists. What does Vend mean in this place and space, as opposed to an urban location? Why does it feel so unexpected, so special? How does it shape our connection with the forest?
The installation itself is mechanical, low-impact, and portable in a rucksack. It is an old cigarette vending machine which once stood on a smoky bar or hotel reception desk, dispensing filterless Woodbines and John Player Specials (the brands are written, in old calligraphic handwriting, on the inside).
It feels satisfying to repurpose it out in the fresh air.
Photo credits: Colin Tennant for Upland CIC / Anne Waggot Knott
Welding: Andrew Waggot
Vend, Forest Floor and The Un-Map were conceived as part of ROAM (West), an experimental project to explore the potential for ambitious contemporary art in rural western Galloway. Anne worked in collaboration with Upland CIC and six other artists whose work was also exhibited: Del Whitticase, Frances Ross, Hope London, Jack Y Tan, Sarah Stewart, and Savannah Crosby. Roam (West) was supported by Creative Scotland, Upland CIC, and the artists themselves.
Thanks to Kilsture Forest and its Trustees for hosting our pop-up exhibition.
Thank you to all the visitors at Kilsture Roaming, August 2023, for bearing with us through Storm Betty (link to blog) and taking the time to connect with the forest and with our art.