Susie Johnston & Louise Ritchie
Site Specific Commission for Hidden Door Festival September 2021
157 Reliquaries was a multi-material intervention responding to the history of the gasworks and its place within the transport system of the Caledonian Railway located near Edinburgh city centre. Acknowledging the temporality of the site, its ongoing use as a learning-space and as momentarily unearthed for Hidden Door 2021, this project materially re-framed the space through working directly with discarded materials gathered onsite. Located in the shadow of the 157ft high gas tower, the installation comprised 157 porcelain vessels-as-reliquaries that drew attention to material agencies hidden in excavated found-objects and accumulated site detritus. Acknowledging the history of the site, within which this found matter played its part, and the revitalising commitments of the Hidden Door Festival, these reliquaries offered an impactful contemplation of the power that art plays in the transformation and reinvention of otherwise forgotten spaces.
About the collaboration
Louise Ritchie and Susie Johnston share a deep fascination with the vitality of matter. Engaging with a myriad of materials from clay, bronze, found, repurposed objects, and traditional and non-traditional art materials, they embrace experimentation and process as part of their framework of thinking-through-making. Louise and Susie seek to reframe and challenge ideas of place and space through material engagement. For Hidden Door 2021, both artists celebrated the power of materials and their ability to both transform, reframe and reimagine realities.
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