From time to time, Cove Park supports artists by commissioning new work. These commissions enable established national and international artists to respond (through month-long residencies) to Cove Park’s site or to a specific brief developed in some cases in collaboration with another organisation. Our aim is to encourage the development of ambitious new work and to support artists fully during its production. Work commissioned by Cove Park has gone on to be exhibited and performed both in Scotland and internationally.

In 2005 the first Visual Arts Commission was awarded to Simon Starling. As a result of a research residency at Cove Park in 2006, the artist created a major new work Autoxylopyrocycloboros. The work took the form of a circular, entropic voyage on the waters of Loch Long. The boat that made this voyage, a 20ft long clinker-built wooden craft called Dignity, was salvaged form the sea bed and restored fully by its previous owner. Fitted at Cove Park with a single cylinder, marine steam engine, Dignity served as both vessel and fuel for Autoxylopyrocycloboros as, piece-by-piece, plank-by-plank, the boat was fed to its own engine’s boiler. Like the age-old alchemical symbol for eternal renewal, the Ouroboros (the tail devouring snake) the boat, in an attempt to keep moving, consumed itself and ultimately returned to the deep waters of the Loch.

Based in Berlin, Starling’s work is characterised by an engagement with the meaning and value of objects and the processes involved in transforming one object or substance into another. Starling gives equal consideration to the appreciation of the design of objects – from chairs and bicycles to planes and boats – and to the social, economic and cultural conditions in which they are produced.

To date, Autoxylopyrocycloboros has been shown in solo exhibitions at Heidelburger Kunstverein, Heidelberg (2006), Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York (2007) and The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2008). A limited edition original artwork by Simon Starling is included in the Cove Park Portfolio.

Autoxylopyrocycloboros was supported by Argyll and Bute Council, the Craignish Trust and the Henry Moore Foundation.