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bringing together environmentalism and performance
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NVA

   
www.nva.org.uk
contact@nva.org.uk
t : 0141 332 9911
Glasgow
Scotland

Vision  
NVA’s vision is to make powerful public art articulating the complex qualities of a location through collective action. Our practice engages participants physically and creatively in redefining urban and rural landscapes. We take the existing landscape as a starting point for uncovering complex underlying realities, revealing how places shape and are shaped by their inhabitants.

NVA champion an emerging form of collaborative art practice that aims to galvanise public partners and bridge the gap between political strategy and practical implementation through temporary and permanent works.

NVA is an acronym of nacionale vitae activa, a Latin phrase describing ‘the right to influence public affairs’. We are interested in a non-gallery based democratisation of presentation. Generative models of exchange are created to stimulate people to use ideas and methodologies to support their own development and means of expression.

NVA was founded in 1992 by Angus Farquhar.

 
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Productions and Projects

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Island Drift
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2013, 2014
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Island Drift is a collaborative project with the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park that links to the Year of Natural Scotland, 2013.

NVA in collaboration with lead creative designer James Johnson and photographer Alan McAteer will design a number of bespoke installations across the southern area of Loch Lomond as the basis for creating a series of enigmatic still images.

Using moving and static light to modulate both land and water, Island Drift will articulate and reveal aspects of the islands and their wider setting that form a unique freshwater grouping containing over 3,000 years of cultural history within an infinitely older natural order of evolutionary and geographical change.

The work will be created in autumn 2013 and presented at a new location within the National Park in 2014.

photo © Alan McAteer, courtesy NVA website

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NVA ISLAND DRIFT
Island Drift

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Speed of Light
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2012
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Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh is the stage for a fusion of public art and sporting endeavour. The iconic peak will be brought to life in a mass choreographed act of walking and endurance running, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival and the London 2012 Festival.

A visual display will unfold each night on the ascent to the summit as hundreds of runners wearing specially designed light suits take to the intricate path networks. Members of the walking audience become part of the work, carrying portable light sources set against the dark features of the hill.

Each individual performance is created by collective action, landscape and weather, offering a rare perspective on the cityscape, night skies and the sea and hills beyond.

Speed of Light is listed on both the NVA and Edinburgh International Festival pages.

NVA have also produced Speed of Light in Salford Quays, UK (2013) and in Yokohama, Japan (2012).

photo © NVA

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speed of light
Speed of Light

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Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike Plan)
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2010
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'The White Bicycle Plan proposes to create bicycles for public use that cannot be locked. The white bicycle symbolizes simplicity and healthy living, as opposed to the gaudiness and filth of the authoritarian automobile.'
Provo manifesto

For Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2010, NVA staged a re-enactment of the infamous Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike Plan).

The original Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike plan) was an anarchic free transport programme and the most famous manifesto of the Provos, the Dutch counter culture movement of the 1960’s. They released 50 or so, free to use, specially painted white bikes which were scattered across the city of Amsterdam. This was done as a statement against the rise of consumerism, pollution and congestion caused by the privately owned vehicle. Although the action was shortlived due to theft and vandalism, Provo members used seats on the local council to propose further large-scale white bike plans. The initiative stands as the source inspiration for the (PUB) Public Use Bicycle systems which have been updated and ‘officially’ replicated in cities worldwide.

NVA’s White Bike Plan referenced and reinvigorated this key legacy from the Dutch Provo movement. NVA released 50 white bikes across the city for the Glasgow International audience to freely use for travelling around town and between venues for the duration of the festival.

Over half of the bikes that were made available have been returned, with additional bikes still being spotted and reclaimed. The returned bikes have been donated to five local charities who have given them a new life, and set them free once again.

photo © Cor Jaring, courtesy NVA website

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NVA WHITE BIKE
Witte Fietsenplan

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SAGE (Sow and Grow Everywhere)
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2009 and annually
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SAGE (Sow And Grow Everywhere), is an initiative to put food production in the heart of urban life and generate a change in community food growing in the Glasgow Metropolitan region.

A joint venture by NVA and ERZ landscape architects, SAGE is transforming derelict and vacant land into spaces for people to grow their own food. It has been designed as a mobile initiative: when land is required for development, the infrastructure can move to a new site.

SAGE is allowing people with no previous experience of growing their own food and herbs to both provide for their families, friends and potentially offer surplus to a wider area. It is complementing, supporting and extending the existing network of community food initiatives. SAGE also offers the potential for larger initiatives to be developed into social enterprises.

Central to SAGE is the 'growing toolkit', which includes a high quality, durable, specially designed 'modular system' of grow boxes/bags made from recycled materials.

Events throughout SAGE have included Glasgow Harvest in 2010, a celebration of the social gardening movement taking place throughout the city on windowsills, in back gardens, disused wastelands and allotments. At an open-air meal in the Hidden Gardens, Tramway, everyone who grows their own food was invited to take part in a day of home produce, live music and performance.

photo © NVA

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SAGE: Glasgow Harvest
SAGE: Glasgow Harvest

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HALF LIFE
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2007
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Staged throughout the day and night in one of the world’s most significant prehistoric regions, HALF LIFE: Journey into the Neolithic offered a physical and emotive experience which revealed the dark but inspiring beliefs of Scotland’s early Neolithic inhabitants. The landscape of Kilmartin Glen, mid-Argyll is home to thousands of years of ritual markings, standing stones, burial cairns, henges and Neolithic cup and ring-marked rocks. It carries the beginnings of the cultural landscape.

HALF LIFE was a major landscape work and the first co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and NVA.

HALF LIFE started by day, when audiences could explore sites and installations based around known and rarely seen prehistoric landmarks. The route followed recently recovered archaeological field notes into the area. These include newly discovered cup and ring marked stones carved 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. Dense forests were manipulated to create new entrances and vistas around chosen sites, while audio compositions enhance the existing sounds of the natural environment.

In the evening, an outdoor production was staged in a forest location above the ancient fort of Dunadd, at the entrance to Kilmartin Glen. The audience entered a vast set constructed out of thousands of cut logs spreading across the recently deforested landscape. Seen through the eyes of an eminent archaeologist, in HALF LIFE the realms of the living and the dead seem to merge, bringing to light the remarkable beliefs that focussed the ritual activity in our earliest societies; beliefs that still echo through the present landscape.

In the community, the National Theatre of Scotland worked with 100 third-year pupils from Lochgilphead High School over a 13-week period. A team of artists explored the idea of 'Journey' in the physical, emotional and spiritual sense. The work created was a combination of live performance, video imagery, art installation and music composition.

photo © NVA, Graeme Stuart

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HALF LIFE

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The Storr: Unfolding Landscape
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2005
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The dramatic natural land formation of The Old Man of Storr in Trotternish on the Isle of Skye was transformed through illumination and sound throughout the months of August and September in 2005.

For forty-two nights, The Storr: Unfolding Landscape brought an audience of 6,500 people, equipped with headlamps, guides and walking sticks on a strenuous walk to witness one of Europe’s most dramatic and inspiring landscapes at midnight.

The massed pinnacles and buttresses were illuminated while powerful soundscapes drifted down from the ridges above.

The animation featured new soundworks by Skye-based composer Paul Mounsey and Geir Jenssen from Norway. Anne Martin's live singing and the voice of Skye’s poet, Sorley MacLean could be heard drifting through the forest on descent.

The Storr: Unfolding Landscape created an intense and personal experience for each walker, with the dynamics of the weather leading to varied reactions.

Awards:
Entertainment Lighting Award, Lighting Design Awards UK, 2006
Team of the Year Award, Scottish Enterprise’s Dynamic Place Awards, 2005
Highly Commended: Innovation category, Highland Tourism Awards, 2005

photo © NVA

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nva storr
The Storr: Unfolding Landscape

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The Path
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2000
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Over a two-hour night-time walk through Glen Lyon, Perthshire, audiences encountered a range of artistic responses, from light and sound installations to more complex international performance and music, built around key natural features of the glen. For The Path walking itself became significant. The route followed an old drove road / peat track rising to 1,500 feet past a flowing burn with deep pools, rockfalls, ancient trees and scattered shielings.

This journey into the heart of a powerful natural landscape had the central aim of rediscovering what we might have forgotten, rather than just creating something new. It crossed a place 'alive' with history and atmosphere, carrying traces of our cultural and practical relationship with the land over the last thousand years. Linking with associations of procession and pilgrimage, the event picked up on the spirit of wandering, where the action allowed time for discovery and reflection at the participants chosen pace.

The Path made an elemental comparison with the highland culture of the Himalayas, where Buddhism has sustained a remarkable connection between people and place over the millennia. The walker could encounter great hospitality, exquisite mantras, singing bowls in concert, helping hands through difficult terrain and the ever present sacred cairns (stupas) which mark significant passes and summits in high places the world over.

The Path was co-directed by Andy Farquar and Hilary Westlake. The lighting was by David Bryant and Midnight Design. Musicians, singers and sherpa guides from the East transformed of a section of the landscape from a Nepalese / Tibetan perspective. The main soundtrack, composed by Gus Ferguson, used the natural sound of the environment and through manipulation evoked the resonance of the 'power places'. Other musicians included the 'Bombos de Santo Andre' Drummers from the northern mountains of Portugal.

Participants could choose their own level of involvement, participating in building cairns, carrying mani stones, collecting amulets or just leaving a pebble or something personal at an auspicious point on the journey.

photo © NVA

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NVA new PATH
The Path

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The Secret Sign
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1998
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The Secret Sign was presented at the 'Devils Pulpit' in Finnich Glen, Drymen, near Loch Lomond, Stirlingshire during May, 1998. The stunning natural gorge has entranced generations, with its intense greenness, dramatic geology and colourful history from its druidic origins to its role as a secret covenanters meeting place.

The audience were taken on a walk, wearing hard hats and wading boots, through the dark waters entering a magical landscape, brought alive by an environmental installation with light, sound, projection, fire and specifically created effects. The soundtrack for the event was built out of the natural elements - the play of water on rocks, the shift of wind in trees and gullies, the calls of different birds and animals.

The journey evoked the northern seasons and their equivalent human emotions in a powerful and timeless setting.

photo: © NVA

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nva secret sign
The Secret Sign

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Beltane Fire Festival
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1988 and annually
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The first Beltane Fire Festival on Calton Hill, Edinburgh was created in 30 April 1988, led by Angus Farquhar, now of NVA. A few years later, the Beltane Fire Society was formed to continue the annual celebration.

Edinburgh’s Beltane festival originates in the Scottish and Irish Gaelic pre-Christian festivals of the same name. The name itself is thought to have derived from a Gaelic-Celtic word meaning ‘bright/sacred fire’. It was held to mark and celebrate the blossoming of spring, and coincided with the ancient pastoral event of moving livestock to their summer grazing.

Beltane has grown in reputation and scale and currently attracts up to 15,000 revellers with over 300 performers. Its roots lie in the enduring myths of the Earth Goddess, the ritual of the May Queen reunited with her consort, the Green Man. The wishing for a good summer, celebrating rebirth after the long cold winter through the transforming energy of fire and an excuse to get outside and lose yourself in the night, the sites and the rhythms.

photo: © NVA

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NVA BELTANE
Beltane Fire Festival

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  NVA
www.nva.org.uk
contact@nva.org.uk
t: 0141 332 9911

2nd Floor
15 North Claremont Street
Glasgow
G3 7NR
Scotland

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