Cove Park Portfolio

In 2006 seven of the UK’s leading visual artists were commissioned by Cove Park to produce a new limited edition print. This work is available for sale individually or collectively in a high-quality presentation portfolio. Investing in the first Cove Park Portfolio is both an opportunity to acquire works by key contemporary artists and to support Cove Park’s internationally renowned residency programme. The proceeds from all sales goes directly to towards the development of new residency programmes.

The works in the portfolio use Cove Park – its location, history and context –as a starting point, as well as retaining a close relationship to the artist’s ongoing practice.  Each artist has explored the uniqueness of their chosen printmaking process, resulting in seven strong, individual pieces of work.  Together, they form a coherent collection, bringing together seven of the UK’s most dynamic and successful artists; all graduates of Glasgow School of Art who have continuing close connections with the west of Scotland.

Overlapping interests and themes emerge through the full set of prints; a dialogue that explores notions of place and purpose, as well as touching on ideas of self-reference or self-consumption within the artwork itself.  Louise Hopkins’ and Nathan Coley’s monochrome prints allude to the image disappearing within itself, while Claire Barclay’s work, though abstract in nature, depicts elements from the process of its construction. Simon Starling’s work links to his recent commission at Cove Park Autoxylopyrocycloboros, involving a cyclical journey on a boat, where the vessel eventually destroyed itself.  Cove Park’s locality is also implied in Christine Borland’s work, with an image of a nearby tree linking to wider issues of social and moral responsibility. Ross Sinclair also cites Cove’s location, and in a similar way to Graham Fagen, he uses cultural references and appropriated images to reflect on notions of personal and collective identity, simultaneously local and global.


Autoxylopyrocycloboros, 2006,

Archival giclee print with Epson pigment Ultrachrome ink and burning

Winner of the 2005 Turner Prize, Simon Starling is one of Scotland’s most internationally acclaimed artists.  His works often consist of ‘journeys’ that reveal hidden relationships and histories in the process of transforming one object or substance into another.  In 2004 he accepted the first Cove Park Commission and developed Autoxylopyrocycloboros: a major new project launched in summer 2006 that focused on the history and geography of the Clyde Estuary. For Autoxylopyrocycloboros Starling sailed a small, customised steamboat on Loch Long, feeding the wooden boat piece by piece into the onboard woodburner, until it finally sank. The project formed the basis of his solo exhibition at Kunstverein Heidelberg in November 2006, and also for his work for the Cove Park Portfolio. Using an image documenting the sailing, he has converted each archivally guaranteed giclee print, into a unique work by applying a burning process to them.


Untitled, 2006, Screenprint

Borland explores conventional perceptions of morality in her practice, by using investigative processes validated with historical evidence. The theme of her print for the Cove Park Portfolio is an extension of work she developed during a residency at Glenfiddich Distillery in 2004, in the Anatomy Acts exhibition at City Arts Centre, Edinburgh, 2006 and which will continue though a three year NESTA fellowship awarded to the artist in May 2006.  The print depicts a common ailment for trees growing near distilleries, whose bark is attacked by a black fungus.  Borland has transplanted such a tree to Cove Park where it will slowly return to its natural colour. Her print uses both positive and negative versions of a photograph to refer to the tree’s transformation in nature.  The horizontal positioning of this symmetrical image also alludes to biophysical patterns such as bronchial structures and branch-like artery networks, relating to the artist’s ongoing interest in the ethics of medical decision-making.

We Love Real Life Scotland

We love Real Life Scotland, 2006, Screenprint

Sinclair combines wit and wisdom to relate his work to public space, not simply in terms of its architecture or geography, but also to its history, social function and contemporary reality.  He combines text, colour and graphics to test notions of personal and national identity and questions the notion of truth in life and art itself.  The print he has produced for Cove Park is both celebratory and critical.  In it, he reworks part of a neon light installation commissioned for Glasgow’s Radiance Festival of Light in 2005.  This work was located on the façade of the City Chambers local government building and sought to question the presumptions of national, local, international and personal identity.  Sinclair’s print also uses his recurrent ‘Real Life’ slogan, a key element in his recent solo exhibitions Real Life Paintings, at CCA for Glasgow International and at Galerie KnapperBaumgarten, Stockholm, Sweden, both 2006.

my mouth shall speak of wisdom

‘my mouth shall speak of wisdom’, 2006, cmyk print

Fagen works in a variety of ways to create artworks that examine what he calls ‘cultural formers.’ His print for the Cove Park Portfolio uses an iconic image forged from his ‘library of ideas’ that first appeared in his 2005 solo exhibition and publication Clean Hands, Pure Heart at Tramway, Glasgow, and more recently in a photographic print in his 2006 solo exhibition Closer at doggerfisher, Edinburgh. It references notions of identity, symbolism and cultural associations, with particular reference links between Scotland and Jamaica at the time of the poet Robert Burns. Each time Fagen reworks this strong, graphic historically sourced image he repositions it in a new context.  The new printed version uses a four-colour process, causing the image to slightly fragment, thus adding a sense of dramatisation to its form.


Claire Barclay

Untitled, 2006, Screenprint

Barclay evolves her work in a highly instinctive and experimental way, and is well known for her carefully composed sculptural installations that adopt methods used in weaving, woodturning, ceramics and print, to create a refined vocabulary of forms.  Her screenprint for the Cove Park Portfolio used a spontaneous, hands-on process of cutting paper shapes to make the screens with which to print each layer of colour.  The overall composition is vibrant and within it are abstracted illustrations of moving scissor blades, the very tool used to produce the shapes.  The print relates back to her sculptural practice and her previous use of hand-printed fabrics as sculptural components.

I wish I knew


I wish I knew, 2006, Blind embossed etching

Hopkins is immersed in a poetic exploration of process and the working methods that she employs translate readily from painting into print. In her paintings she often layers onto a pre-formulated ground, trace by trace, interweaving and evolving a surface material into something entirely new, while retaining the resonance of what lies beneath. These concerns are the foundation for her new print for Cove Park, although Hopkins’ print doesn’t use the application of any ink.  Instead she employed an embossing process that creates a delicate and shifting translation of the score for the song I Wish I Knew How It Feels to be Free.  The printing plate has been developed from a lengthy process applied to an acetate photocopy of the music, with Hopkins almost completely erasing the reproduction, then meticulously re-working areas of the score so that it emerges from the page again like a handmade version.


Camouflage Portrait

Camouflage Portrait (Black on Black), 2006, Screenprint

Coley examines how the values of a society are reflected in, and determined by its built environment, addressing concerns such as the importance of place, the social value of architecture and the meaning and relevance of contemporary monuments. In his work for the Cove Park Portfolio, Coley applied two black inks to black paper to form a ‘camouflage portrait’ that seems to deny or disappear into its own existence. The print alters in visibility according to the viewer’s position and the light sources reflected on it. In doing this it transposes the language of his recent paintings shown at Frieze Art Fair 2006 and in the sculptural models and wall painting in his solo exhibition There will be no miracles here, at Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute, 2006.  In its title and concept, the print also alludes to military camouflage, linking to the context of Cove Park’s location near the nuclear submarine base Faslane.

Alchemical Projects

This series of original art works were made by Abraham Cruzvillegas during his Cove Park residency in 2008. The residency culminated in a major solo exhibition ‘Autoconstrucción’ at CCA, Glasgow, in the same year. The works reflect the rural environment in which they were made, and the improvisational way in which the artist works. Employing the natural and industrial matter he finds around him, with an interest in testing its unstable physical state in combination with unlikely materials, the works are evidence of a personal, direct and physical response to the situation.

The series of 61 works uses sheep shit painted with gold acrylic paint, which is pressed on to tracing paper, to make unique and individual prints. The markings are reminiscent of landmasses; islands and continents. Abraham uses an architectural scale used in making or measuring from reduced scale drawings to indicate their connection to a larger landmass.

‘While walking around, in the breathtaking landscape of Cove Park, I just found beautiful things to be used as materials for creation: grass, wood, wool, rocks, earth and sheep shit. With this last one I draw some plans for building homes, designing new lands or imagining new continents. I used it as proving that – when you have nothing else – it is possible to transform anything into gold.’
(Abraham Cruzvillegas)