Interview with Artistic Duo Dalziel + Scullion, Edinburgh Art Festival

Artistic duo Dalziel + Scullion explore the natural world in their innovative and immersive practice. A joint commission from Dovecot Studios and an Lanntair, the pair to produce Tumadh: Immersion, which will transform the North and South Galleries at Infirmary Street into an experiential space with sound and tactile qualities. The exhibition is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival, running 31 July – 31 August. Dalziel + Scullion speak to Aesthetica about the ideas behind their art and the way they approach their audience.

A: Tumadh: Immersion is set to be an immersive exhibition – how will you achieve this?
DS: The two installations we are making for An Lanntair, Stornoway and Dovecot, Edinburgh, both look at particular aspects of landscape. In Stornoway we have created a multi-screen video installation that looks at a vast seabird colony we have been filming over four months, where sound and text add to the all-encompassing nature of the show. In Edinburgh we have made a range of clothing and filmed these being worn in very particular landscape, the film and accompanying soundtrack add to the sense of being enveloped in this location.

A: Your work explores the complex, and at times strained relationship, between mankind and the natural world – what drew you to this subject?
DS: We each had very different upbringings but we both experienced memorable and informative encounters with nature in our youth that seemed to inform who we are now. The kick we get from this is addictive and something we go back to time and time again. Often society is hypnotized by repetition and numbed by the anesthetic of familiarity. By using our home base of Scotland and its environment as an inspiration, we explore alternative models for living, particularly in the epic dramas wrought out in macro and micro habitats. We believe that rich narratives, played-out in diverse landscapes, serve to heighten our perspective on our human models for living.

A: Can you explain the idea behind Immersion Garment? It is quite a unique series.
DS: We wanted to make a series of garments that encourage the wearer to slow down and behave differently in the landscape: Silhouette has an extravagant hood that becomes a hide to lose your human profile within, creating an erratic boulder shape; Recumbent has neoprene pads that allow the wearer to lie down and experience their environment from a different perspective, from this position sounds and smells start to invade the dominance of the visual; Rain deliberately ignores a hood in favour of experiencing rain falling from it’s source to the top of your head whilst protecting the rest of the body, a clear waterproof pouch at the front allows collections to be kept dry and visible. Finally, Gatherer is a jacket worn to go collecting in, borrowing from the tradition of suit jackets with “ticket” and “spectacle” pockets, these pockets take files for botanical specimens and has a backpack based on the design of a peat basket.

A: How do you want your art to affect your audiences?
DS: We are interested in making works that challenge the perspective of the audience, allowing them to feel and experience landscape differently, perhaps even place alternative values on environmental aspects they encounter in their own day-to-day lives.

A: Which artists have inspired you?
A wide range of people including writers, architects and musicians are a constant source of influence, but in terms of visual artists some of our favourites include: Giuseppe Penone, Roni Horn, Olafur Eliasson, Matthew Barney, Janet Cardiff, Cai Guo-Qiang and Ann Hamilton we are also fans of the fashion designer Hussein-Chalayan and of the Japanese animation studio Ghibli, and finally two architects whose work we often refer to are Sverre Fehn and Carlo Scarpa.

Dalziel + Scullion, Tumadh: Immersion, 1 August – 13 September, Dovecot, 10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LT. The exhibition is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival, find out more at

Tumadh: Immersion, courtesy of Dalziel + Scullion.