Jean Duncan

Jean Duncan CECHR Artist in Residence will be working for some months over the spring and summer with the Living Field.

With the help of funding from the Centre of Expertise for Waters CREW, Jean made new paintings and images in 2012 linking the topics of water, wild plants, crops, landscapes and food.

As part of the CREW project, Jean worked with local school groups on projects linked to water, including the famous beans on toast project described on this site.She held art workshops at the Institute's open days in 2012. 

Her work with the Living Field also influenced her design of backdrops to the recent performance of Handel's Acis and Galatea. More below.

 

Acis and Galatea

Jean was commissioned to design and paint images that would be projected on the backdrop at the stage performance of a baroque opera, Acis and Galatea by Handel, based on a story in Ovid. The main image in the first half was of a cropland with fields, walls, hedges and trees (below). The image was in the form of a circle that rotated almost imperceptibly as the story unfolded.

 

 

 

Among the detail, near the centre, were drawings of cereal plants, modelled on the emmer wheat Triticum dicoccum, an ancient grain now absent from the croplands, but grown in the Living Field garden in recent years (top right below). And also of a sheep (top left below), curled in the bole of a great tree, and suggestive of the transformations that Ovid wrote about in his notes and essays from antiquity.

 

 

Not long into the second half, the baddie appeared, unpredictable and angry, at which the backdrop turned into a fissured, greyscale image (above lower, left, and detail right).

 

Capsella bursa pastoris Shepherd's purse

The series of paintings featuring the plant Capsella bursa-pastoris, shepherd's purse, completed during Jean's CECHR residency, continued during her work with the Living Field.

Shepherd's purse was in Scotland when the first crops were grown here over 5000 years ago and has lived within agriculture as a weed ever since. It is also an ancient medicinal plant and salad vegetable. Jean worked on shepherd's purse with Pete Iannetta and Wenni Deng, a doctoral student.

Jean's painting, reproduced below - Kilmartin - takes in themes of early settlement in the neolithic, crescents, circles, Capsella, crops and sacred landscapes.

 

 

 

A vegetative (not flowering) shepherd's purse occupies the roundel at the centre of another of her paintings, below (image provided by the artist). Depictions of ancient cereal plants, from specimens grown in the Living Field garden, are shown to the right and left of it.

 

 

 

 

Shepherd's purse also appears in the lower right of the painting below titled 'The new crop' (image provided by the artist).

 

 

The Lamb Gallery (25 February to 5 April 2012), University of Dundee exhibited Paintings by Jean completed during her CECHR Artist’s Residency.

Further details of her new work with the Living Field will be posted here throughout  2012 and 2013.

Shepherd's purse is being examined at the Institute in a study of local evolution and adaptation. It has many forms that appear to enable it to survive and even thrive along with crops over the millennia.

[Back to top]