What art have I seen? We are Compost

Posted in Exhibitions, Producing by chrisfremantle on August 5, 2022

We are Compost at the Centre for Contemporary Art Glasgow, part of the programme put together for the World Congress of Soil Science.

The exhibition features the first UK showing of Asad Raza’s work Absorption, in which cultivators create and nurture 60 tonnes of artificial soil created from recycled and other waste materials. This neosoil is then offered freely to visitors to use for their own domestic and community projects. Gaia Glossary, a research installation curated by Alexandra Toland and Lea Wittich brings together literature, resources, tools and objects encouraging a composting of knowledge into the soil for the growth of new ideas. Finally, Eating the Ancestors, is an interactive installation by artist Désirée Coral following her Colonial Seeds research with the Glasgow Seed Library, focusing on what we inherited from generations past to further understand what can be generated from what already exists and what we can do for the collective WE.

Over the week being an interpreter for Newton Harrison’s On the Deep Wealth of this Nation, Scotland, also had a chance to check out documentation of Soil and Soul, a project by Propagate across seven communities in Glasgow. This really sets a standard for engagement by a major international environment conference – very different from the usual ‘fly in fly out’. The team from Propagate working with the British Society of Soil Scientists engaged and connected with communities across Glasgow on the importance of soil, making compost, seed bombing, etc.

Newton Harrison’s On the Deep Wealth was really well received by the Congress attendees. The responded to the maps and the text often reading the whole work. Colin Campbell, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, interviewed Newton in advance of the Congress and that recording plus more information on the work is available on The Barn’s website.

NSAIS Commission Courtyards (Gabbro)

Posted in Arts & Health, News, Producing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on December 8, 2021

Extended Deadline 17 January 2022

£50,000 excluding VAT

This commission addresses a key challenge at the heart of the ethos of Foxgrove (NSAIS): creating an empathetically designed environment that balances safety and therapy. We are looking for a designer/maker individual or team to design, fabricate, test and deliver modular units comprising planters, seating (and tables) for the Horticultural Courtyard and the Therapy Courtyard. The designer/maker will work closely with One Environments, Project Landscape Architect, to input into the overall layout, as well as surfaces, planting, lighting, and graphics/signage. The commission will need to contribute to the ethos and language of biophilic and therapeutic design throughout Foxgrove (NSAIS). Careful consideration will need to be taken with the choice of material and the design in order to meet the highest standards of safety and robustness.

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NSAIS Commission Dividing Wall (Delta)

Posted in Arts & Health, Producing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on November 23, 2021

First Commission for NHS Ayrshire & Arran‘s new Foxgrove National Secure Adolescent Inpatient Service.
How do you use a wall to provide security but also contribute to a therapeutic environment? 
We are looking for a designer/maker individual or team to develop and deliver a solution for a dividing wall required for safety separating the main dining space from the main living space. The wall should enhance safety and security within the facility but also enhance the therapeutic milieu of the facility, providing a feature which inspires confidence in the young people and pride in the staff group.
You will have:
• experience of collaborating with Project Architects
• track record of work for justice, education, or health/wellbeing
• engagement-focused practice
• delivered high quality integrated elements on time and to budget
Foxgrove, the National Secure Inpatient Adolescent Service (NSAIS) will provide support, education and rehabilitation for young people with mental health disorders where the risk of harm to others or themselves is beyond what can be provided by other mental health services.
Total budget £40,000 exc VAT

Deadline 13 December 2021

Full brief here

Unveiled: The art which will help and heal in new hospital | Herald Scotland

Posted in Arts & Health, CV, News, Producing by chrisfremantle on June 16, 2015

Nice piece Unveiled: The art which will help and heal in new hospital | Herald Scotland by Helen Puttick, Health Correspondent, in the Herald about the Therapeutic Design and Arts Strategy for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s new South Glasgow University Hospital and Royal Hospital for Sick Children.  I’ve been responsible for responsible for the overall programme, working with Ginkgo Projects, since 2010 (this might sound like a long time, but bear in mind the NHS Capital Planning team have been working on it for 10 years).



Posted in Producing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on March 16, 2014

Revisiting a project from 2001.  You can see front and centre the furnace, to the back left the bridge and on the right the iron arc cast in situ over the Deskry in one evening.  This is the first time I’ve been back to the site since the morning after when we opened the mould.

George Beasley and Helen Denerley with many helpers, 2001, Boundaries.  Photo Chris Fremantle

George Beasley and Helen Denerley with many helpers, 2001, Boundaries. Photo Chris Fremantle

The result of a collaboration between two artists working with metal.  Photo Chris Fremantle (sorry for quality)

The result of a collaboration between two artists working with metal. Photo Chris Fremantle (sorry for quality)


Presenting at Enhancing Lives Through Arts & Health, Houston, TX

Posted in Arts & Health, CF Writing, Producing, Research, Sited work, Texts by chrisfremantle on March 7, 2014

My proposal for a paper “Scottish artists bring nature into healthcare” has been accepted for the Global Alliance for Arts & Health 25th Conference in Houston, Texas in April.

The abstract is,

Scotland has a strong portfolio of arts and health projects including both public art installations within healthcare buildings and participatory programmes, in particular with people with long term conditions. This presentation will focus on public art installations by artists and designers which use biophilic and other design approaches to bringing nature into buildings. It addresses the conference themes of Patient Care, Healing Environments and Caring for Caregivers.

It is well known thanks to the work of Robert Ulrich that views of nature contribute to patient recover, and it is clear from the work of Stephen Kaplan that views of nature can play a role in restoring our ability to give our attention. OPENspace Research at Edinburgh College of Art ( ) has further substantiated the connections between nature and wellbeing focusing on inclusive access to the outdoors.

In Scotland there have been a number of projects in the context of Healthcare where artists and designers have specifically sought to use art and design to bring nature into buildings in addition to what the architects and landscape designers are able to achieve.

Four key examples are:

Thomas A Clark’s ( project with the architects Reiach & Hall, ‘A Grove of Larch in a Forest of Birch,’ for the New Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow integrated poetry and visual arts into what the architects described as the architecture of waiting. The Aim was to create spaces in which users of the hospital could wait for appointments in “a place apart having the brightness and stillness of a woodland glade.”

Alexander Hamilton’s ( Designing for Dignity ( is an approach that draws on a deep understanding of the Victorian poet and artist John Ruskin and of the more recent Biophilia Hypothesis. Hamilton is currently developing designs including furniture and art for the Quiet or Family rooms in the New South Glasgow Hospitals based on an extensive programme of creative engagement. Hamilton is also working on the design of a healthcentre in Glasgow.

Dalziel + Scullion’s ( practice is increasingly focused on addressing nature deficit disorder. Their work encompasses exhibitions and public art. Their scheme for the wards of the New South Glasgow Hospitals will bring the whole landscape of Scotland into one building. Their project Rosnes Benches, currently being installed in the landscape of Dumfries and Galloway, they have also contributed work to the Vale of Leven Health Centre (

Donald Urquhart has completed public art projects for four mental health hospitals including most recently Midpark Acute Mental Health Hospital ( and developed Sanctuary spaces for both hospitals and universities. His award winning design for the Sanctuary at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary has become a benchmark (

These artists and others demonstrate key aspects of the role of art in bringing nature into healthcare contexts including focus on characteristics of nature such as colour, pattern and movement. As artists they use attention, framing and synthesis.

In addition to sharing these developments with the conference audience I hope to identify other artists exploring similar issues.

I’m very much hoping to find other artists and designers working along these lines with the depth of thinking as well as the quality of work.

Work in Progress

Posted in Producing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on May 29, 2012

Public Art Scotland 'Work in Progress' installed in The Lighthouse, Glasgow, for the Scottish Government's International Summit on Architecture and Place, May 2012 (Photo: Chris Fremantle)

Public Art Scotland ‘Work in Progress’ installed in The Lighthouse, Glasgow, for the Scottish Government’s International Summit on Architecture and Place, May 2012 (Photo: Chris Fremantle)

An Ecology Of Mind | A Daughter’s Portrait of Gregory Bateson

Posted in News, Producing by chrisfremantle on February 12, 2012

An Ecology Of Mind | A Daughter's Portrait of Gregory Bateson

An Ecology Of Mind | A Daughter’s Portrait of Gregory Bateson.

There will be a screening and panel discussion of Nora Bateson’s film of Gregory Bateson,

Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture,
L1 Minto House, Chambers Street, Edinburgh

5.30 – 8pm on 23 February 2012

There will be a workshop on 24 Feb for students of any discipline, Masters level and above, at Edinburgh College of Art

Please email if you wish to attend the film.

This event is sponsored by the School of Architecture and the CORE research group.

Art + Design Opportunities at NSGH

Posted in News, Producing by chrisfremantle on July 5, 2011

Creative Scotland: Find out about Art + Design Opportunities at NSGH.

The commissions in the New South Glasgow Hospitals Therapeutic Design and Art Strategy are beginning to be advertised.  Ginkgo Projects, who I’m working for on this, together with Brookfield and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are holding an event for artists and designers to find out more.

The event takes place from 5.30-7.30 on Tuesday 19 July at the Pearce Institute, Govan Road, Glasgow.

I’ll be describing the way that Donald Urquhart, Will Marshall and I developed the Strategy around the patient pathway and bringing the landscape into the building.  I will outline the projects, but I’m going to focus on skills and competencies – the ability to collaborate closely with architects & landscape architects; to work within the framework of interior design to challenge and develop exciting projects; to engage and persuade the wider team including commissioning managers, hospital staff, clinicians, amongst many others.

The projects have been developed so that they can be tackled from a wide range of practices from the strongly authorial through to the participatory and engaged.

I’ll flesh this out and explain more about the process on the 19th.

Ruth Barker’s Big Questions, No Answers

Posted in CF Writing, Producing, Research, Sited work by chrisfremantle on January 28, 2011

Ruth Barker’s blog post Big Questions, No Answers on the PAR+RS website asks some very important questions which turn the question of skill and expertise.  Taking off at a tangent, these questions are fundamentally to do with inter-disciplinarity, skill, competence and, as Ruth says, responsibility.

One of the sharpest critiques I’ve read draws on Psychology and applies Attachment Theory to recent trends within the arts and culture, i.e. if culture or the arts attaches itself to health to gain access to resources then it is forced to adopt the valuation methods used in health.  (Gray, C., Local Government and the Arts. Local Government Studies. Jan 2002.)

The danger is of course that the arts have attached themselves to health, environment, education (primary, secondary, further, higher and informal), social work, youth justice, criminal justice, etc… each bringing its own formulation and methodology for valuation.  Hence there is an under acknowledged process of specialisation particularly in the field of public art, where successful practitioners have indepth knowledge of very specific policy areas and are able to engage with managers, politicians and policy makers on their own terms.

I would cite for example Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison who can sit down with very senior environmental scientists, policy makers and politicians and engage in detailed discussion of watershed management strategies.  If you take a look at their publication Peninsula Europe you will find an analysis of the financial value of reforesting the high ground of Europe in terms of the amount of clean water produced.  This is only one example.  There are many others: Suzanne Lacy talking about the issues around rape or teen pregnancy.  In Scotland Jackie Donnachie has a relationship with medical researchers of this same quality, but I digress.

The question is whether in this process the artist also persuades these sectors that creative methods (of valuation) are relevant to them.  Whose terms is success judged by?

Working Well: People and Spaces

Posted in News, Producing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on January 10, 2011

Art Work: Ayr

Posted in CV, Producing, Research, Texts by chrisfremantle on September 16, 2010

Artworkers won't kiss assTemporary Services‘ project Art Work has raised important questions about the personal economy and practice of artists. On the back of one-off newspaper-format publication, distributed free throughout the US and internationally, Temporary Services have kick started a discussion about the ways that artists and creative people use alternative economies to once again challenge the idea of competition and the market dominance of culture. Temporary Services produce exhibitions, events, projects and publications. They say “The distinction between art practice and other creative human endeavors is irrelevant to us.”

The Scottish Artists Union has invited Brett Bloom, one of the founders of Temporary Services, currently based in Denmark, to speak at the SAU AGM (7.00pm 30 September 2010, Stills Gallery, Edinburgh) about Art Work.

Brett Bloom will come to Ayr on Saturday 2nd October for a discussion with anyone whose interested in participating. It’ll be upstairs at Su Casa, a new cafe in the Lorne Arcade, between the Gaiety and the High Street at 2pm for as long as it goes on.

Preparatory Reading:

Art Work, the publication;

Helen Molesworth’s Work Ethic, catalogue of the Exhibition (not available online);

A response to A Call to Farms, a book resulting from a dérive organised by Temporary Services and Brian Holmes.

Pecha Kucha: 6 mins 20 secs

Posted in CF Writing, Exhibitions, Producing, Research, Sited work by chrisfremantle on August 7, 2009

If you start with the sentence “My practice is focused by place,” then the next sentence that logical follows is “I’ve been working in … Ireland, Palestine, Siberia.” Whereas if you start with the sentence “My practice is focused by context,” then the next logical sentence can be any one of a very large number of things… [more]

This text and the associated slides were presented at the Pecha Kucha held at the RSA in Edinburgh.

Pecha Kucha Invite


Posted in CF Writing, Producing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on May 16, 2009

Twice this week I have been confronted by the importance of thinking about the rural as a thing in itself, rather than by what it is not.  The Scottish Government defines the rural in negative terms; it is that which is not urban.  But, and it has to be said, sometime around now according to the UN Population Fund humanity is crossing a threshold into (statistically speaking) more than 50% of us living in cities.

And it is precisely at this point that it is increasingly clear that we need to pay attention to the cost of our beliefs, and our belief that the rural is backward, dependent and boring compared to the smooth, fast and creative spaces of our cities is one we need to question.

On Thursday 14th May 2009 the Geddes Institute at the University of Dundee, as part of the Annual Conference of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland held a symposium entitled Landworkers. We were taken on a journey into a space where the indigenous and the vernacular and the rural and the remote were foremost. I have a slight reservation even using the word rural in the context of work around the Great Bear Lake in the North West Territories of Canada, or of Samiland stretching across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Rural suggests the space of western agrarian cultures, not the space of travelling folk and nomads.

So I’d like to start by suggesting several things Scotland can learn from its own rural:

The international Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently reported that Scotland’s rural schools provide the best education in the world.

As noted previously, the result of more than 20 years of community development through the process of land claim on Eigg (amongst other remote Scottish estates) has resulted in the Eigg Trust introducing a renewable energy system which makes the island an exemplar. Moreover the fact that this renewable energy system incorporates a means to limit any individual from taking too much is something to be celebrated. It means that social and environmental justice are manifest in the infrastructure.

Rural Scotland also has the potential to generate 25% of Europe’s wind energy, as well as a very significant proportion of wave and tidal energy. In the context of climate change it is imperative, not that we cover every square mile of the Scottish landscape with wind turbines, but that we develop a robust politics to maximise the production of renewable energy by pushing all the technologies to commercial viability, and by re-designing and re-engineering the grid to support this. The key words for such a policy need to be a mixed economy of means across both technologies and scales – just as rural life is characterised by mixed economies and complex interdependecies.

This moves from the overused word ‘sustainability’ to the more imaginatively rich concept of a ‘stability domain’ as articulated by the eminent ecological artists Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison. A ‘stability domain’ is a region, whether a watershed, or another geographical entity, which achieves ecological and economic stability. In human terms this means having the necessary interdependencies, structures and limitors embedding social and environmental justice, for life to thrive. It also means ceasing to be dependent on the extraction of, and consuming of, limited resources beyond the carrying capacity of the ecology.  We might also want to ask what a cultural stability domain might be?

If we want to challenge beliefs, then we might want to imagine the situation where our energy needs are met from the energies already in movement around the planet, rather than those embedded beneath our feet. I can understand why miners in St Helens in Lancashire are proud of their motto ‘Ex Terra Lucem’ and it’s a wonderfully resonant phrase, but we need a new motto.

These are all pragmatic and practical lessons we can learn from the rural, but we can also learn in a different way, and returning to the Landworkers symposium I want to highlight the cultural things we can learn from the rural.

Four, if not more, presentations focused on vernacular and indigenous projects:

Gavin Renwick working as cultural intermediary for the Dogrib in their land claim negotiations with the Canadian Government, andnow moving on to the process of designing and developing a new vernacular for housing in the new nation.

Juhani Pallasmaa creating a museum of nature and culture with and for the Sami.

Then two wonderful presentations flowing into each other by a process of playing ‘tag’ starting with Arthur Watson, handing on to Will Maclean, handing on to Fergus Purdie, handing back to Will Maclean handing on to Marion Leven.

Watson was talking about Cairn Gorm: Reading a Landscape in which he is collaborating with Maclean and Purdie, amongst others. Maclean then talked about the works Cuimhneachain nan Gaisgeach (Commemoration of our Land Heroes) on Lewis where he is collaborating on the fourth site with Leven.

These projects are more than just art in rural places. They speak to a very specific and different understanding: one the places priority on the vernacular and indigenous. T.S.Eliot and others were quoted on the relationship between tradition and innovation but Renwick provided some of the key phrases that structure thinking this through. The first, probably derived from reading MacDiarmid, in “Being modern in your own language.” The second is the dictum of the Dogrib elders which is to educate young people to understand both Western culture and their own traditional culture: “to be strong like two people”.

The cultural projects all demonstrate that it is absolutely critical in the context of rampant urbanisation to express the value (richness, complexity, duration, immediacy, experimentation and repetition) of the rural. And that the expressions of value and meaning we saw help us understand, if nothing else, that the rural is more than just a lower density of population.

The issue of the vernacular seemed quite opaque in the event.  What is vernacular?  Is it of the everyday?  In relation to architecture it can seem like an aspect of the aesthetic realm or a stylistic device.  But it struck me that the terrace I live on with 20 houses the same and two at the end which are larger (for the builder/developer and his family at a guess) also describes a vernacular – yes in the ‘character,’ but also in the economics.  There is a real danger that the vernacular is a lifestyle choice rather than an aspect of imagining our ‘stability domain’.  It seemed to me that the artists’ projects evidenced a clear operation within a complex idea of vernacular which comes back to Renwick’s ‘modern in our own language’ and ‘strong like two people.’

Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom

Posted in CF Writing, CV, Exhibitions, Producing, Research, Texts, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on May 6, 2008

What art have I seen?

Posted in Exhibitions, Producing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on May 16, 2007

Remember Saro-Wiwa

Posted in CV, Producing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on November 10, 2006

Remember Saro-Wiwa, the Bus, the first Living Memorial by Sokari Douglas Camp

I’m working with PLATFORM on this major public art project.  I’ve been involved since July and this is the day of the official launch.

Producing and Project Managing > Remember Saro-Wiwa

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What art have I seen?

Posted in CF Writing, Producing, Sited work, Texts by chrisfremantle on June 11, 2006

Launch of Phase I of Arthur Watson’s work at CairnGorm Mountain. Great to see this project coming to fruition. I still think it is a shame that Winifred isn’t part of it: pacem.

I think I first went to meet Bob Kinnaird in March 2001.

It all started with a phone call from Judi Menabeny, then the visual arts officer for Badenoch and Strathspey (?). Bob had contacted her looking for help to develop the arts as part of the development of the funicular. At that time the Funicular was a big story attracting a lot of negative press. Anyway, Judi called me and I went over to see Bob. I was immediately struck by the landscape – who wouldn’t be? But to me it was the bulldozed airstrip that you can see from 10 miles away. That is the first visitor experience.

Quickly we set aside the idea of the sculpture park on the mountain, and looked to do something that addressed the relationship between the organisation and its context. Clearly Bob’s thinking about the living mountain has developed in the process as well.

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Culture and the New Scottish Parliament

Posted in Civics, CV, News, Producing by chrisfremantle on October 2, 2000

This event was focused on the Scottish Government’s draft National Cultural Strategy.


Public meeting at Lumsden Village Hall to take place on 2 October 2000

This is an open invitation for you to join us for an unique opportunity to hear Rhona Brankin MSP, Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport, speak about the new National Cultural Strategy. The meeting is being held at Lumsden Village Hall at 7pm on Monday 2 October 2000. The meeting is open to everyone interested in culture in the North East of Scotland and there will be an opportunity to ask questions and raise issues with the Deputy Minister.

The National Cultural Strategy recognises that our culture is not only the arts, but is also the buildings and landscape of Scotland, the language and traditions, and that culture permeates every aspect of our lives. A strong and vibrant culture can have enormous social and economic benefits. The Scottish Sculpture Workshop initiated the programme of discussions on ‘Culture and the new Scottish Parliament’ because one of the strengths of our culture is discussion and debate. This is an opportunity to speak directly to the key politician with the responsibility for government policy on culture.

On the publication of the National Cultural Strategy Rhona Brankin MSP said:

“The breadth and vision of this document are in themselves radical. Scotland’s culture can flourish and can be accessible to all. It can develop and exploit its international potential. We can celebrate excellence and we can celebrate diversity.”

The National Cultural Strategy is available from the Scottish Executive on 0131 244 0340 or on their web site at

The Scottish Sculpture Workshop is an artists’ residency centre specialising in sculpture and known internationally. We provide a resource for artists including residential accommodation, facilities, and technical help. We initiate projects involving artists and facilitate the commissioning of public art in the North East of Scotland.

The meeting will take place in Lumsden Village Hall which has recently been upgraded with an award from the National Lottery Halls from the Millennium Scheme.

I very much hope that you will be able to join us for what promises to be an interesting and informative evening where you can hear about the National Cultural Strategy and raise issues concerning culture with Rhona Brankin MSP, Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport.


The Scottish Sculpture Workshop initiated a programme of discussions about the potential impact on culture of the proposed new Scottish Parliament in 1998 when we held an open meeting in Lumsden Village Hall prior to the referendum on Devolution. A note was taken of the meeting and ciculated

In 1999 we followed this up with another meeting, on this occasion prior to the elections for the new Scottish Parliament. This meeting took the form of a ‘cultural hustings’. The candidates for the four parties standing in our constituency we all invited to answer questions from an audience. Again a note of the meeting was prepared and circulated, and on this occasion was also published in Artists Newsletter.

The meeting at 7 pm on 2 October 2000 will therefore be the third meeting in the programme.

We would like to thank Gavin Renwick for stimulating the idea to hold these meetings and Eric Robinson for chairing them. Lumsden Village Hall has provided an excellent venue for these meetings.

This note was originally published on the Scottish Sculpture Workshop website.

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Posted in Producing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on December 27, 1999
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