Beyond the Pale explores a narrative around territory, land and belonging on the Anglo-Scottish border and beyond and inspired is by the artist walking the length this border during an artist’s residency in Northumberland in 2016.
The 100-mile-long border covers a region with the most national parks, darkest skies and least population in the country, but also includes the military installations of the west coast, upland hill farming of the Cheviots and the largest manmade forest in the UK.
Making this walk alone, Zoe gathered a wealth of material about life on the border including historical archives, contemporary news, border ballads and video. She met and interviewed people who live on both sides of the line, learning about their relationship with place, past and present and their underestimated cultural identity as Borderers.
The walk coincided with the Brexit vote and Zoe discovered that the border continues to be a focus of debate over sovereignty raising issues of nationalism and identity, which is reflected in the anxiety over the refugee crisis and international political zeitgeist.
Beyond the Pale uses photography, drawing, mapping and text-based art to build a poignant body of work questioning the notion of nationhood and landscape in the 21st century. The photographs can be viewed as familiar pastoral images but also otherworldly, depicting suspenseful and psychologically charged places that radiate their own violent history. The landscapes can also feel timeless, even primordial, offering a sense of permanence that can allay current political anxieties.
Drawing and mapping work from the exhibition can be seen here