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Drawing on Art History, Aberdeenshire Residents Respond Creatively to Trump International Golf Course

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‘Mike & Sheila Forbes: Mill of Menie’, August 2010. Referencing ‘American Gothic’ by Grant Wood, 1930.

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‘Susan Munro: Leyton Cottage’ August 2010, Referencing ‘On the Bents’ A.D. Reid. 1873

Since 2010, Scottish photographer Alicia Bruce has established a significant reputation building long-term collaborative photographic projects with local communities. Her ongoing project Menie: a portrait of a North East coastal community in conflict has focused on an area of outstanding natural beauty and site of special scientific interest in Aberdeenshire. Bruce’s photographs documented residents who faced compulsory purchase orders on several of their homes as part of the construction of Trump International’s golf course and proposed housing development.

In the collaborative creation of her photographs, Bruce frequently draws upon allegories found in paintings of local historical relevance. For the Menie project, Bruce asked residents to choose paintings from the collection of Aberdeen Art Gallery which they felt drew parallels between their heritage and their current circumstances. For example, when photographing 90 year old Molly Forbes who had retired to Menie, Bruce echoed the composition of James Guthrie’s 1883 painting To Pastures New in order to reflect Molly’s personal optimism and idealism.

Bruce’s long term imaginative use of art history both facilitates her creative relationships and empowers her subjects. This device also anchors her work within a deep cultural identity, resulting in photographic series which are contemporary and politically charged, but also timeless.

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‘Molly Forbes, Paradise’, 2010, for the ‘Menie project’. Inspired by the painting ‘To Pastures New’ by James Guthrie, 1883.

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‘David Milne: Hermit Point’ August 2010, Referencing ‘The Mower: Arthur Hughes’ 1865

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‘John Munro, Leyton Cottage’, 2010, for the ‘Menie project’. Inspired by ‘Nighfall’, a portrait of poet George Mackay Brown by Erik Hoffman, 1988.

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