The Sanquhar Series is a collection of collage prints I made during my artist residency at MERZ Gallery in Sanquhar, Scotland during January and February 2020. I find walking and photographing a great way to learn about a new place. I spent a lot of time walking when I was in Sanquhar and took a lot of pictures of the town. One night back at MERZ, I started collaging them with wallpaper in a fashion similar to the image of Brooklyn in the Domino piece.
The images in the series show various places in the town: Hotel pubs like the Nithsdale and the Glendyne, churches like Saint Brides and Saint Ninians. Sanquhar Station connects the village to Glasgow and Dumfries. The Sanquhar Post Office dates back to 1712 and is the oldest operating post office in the world. Street & Stove Pipes, High Street, and Butcher Shop show scenes of the town. MERZ Gallery and A’ the Airts are key locations in Sanquhar’s cultural quarter. I also included landmarks like Old Town Hall, Tolbooth, and Wiggins Pub, where revered Scottish Poet Robert Burns stayed while visiting Sanquhar. At the end of the day, the series is a way of expressing my gratitude to the town and its people.
Sanquhar is a rural community of two thousand people whose past is more grand than its present. The Crichton family built the castle in the 13th century and it was visited, throughout the years by Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, Edward I, Mary, Queen of Scots, and James VI, who elevated Sanquhar to Royal Burgh in 1598. In the mid-17th century, the Crichtons sold the castle to the Duke of Queensberry who proceeded to build a pink-stone, fairy-tale castle, Drumlanrig, ten miles south of town. Vacant of its nobility, the castle crumbled. The town was caught up in a few hundred years of religious upheaval as Protestants and Catholics wrestled for control, but, in spite of this, agriculture flourished. In 1712, the town established the oldest functioning post office in the world on High Street. Sheep herding gave way to coal mining and industries that relied on coal emerged, such as weaving and carpetmaking. When capitalism took manufacturing global, the town suffered. Buildings, abandoned, went to disrepair. Sheep remain the largest agricultural product in the region, but the price of wool barely covers the expense. Like many rural, post-industrial, 21st-century towns, Sanquhar relies on a combination of service industry and tourism to sustain its local economy. The people are caught between a rich heritage and an uncertain future. They are kind and welcoming. In recent years, they built a community art hub, A’ The Airts, rediscovered their knitting heritage, and organized a tourism council. When the post office was threatened with closure, they rallied.
Enter David Rushton. The conceptual artist was a founding editor of the Coventry-based Analytical Art in the 1960s and worked in Art & Language from 1972 to 1975. Rushton went on to work on local television issues in the 1980s and 1990s. He maintains a practice of model building, which manifests his ideas about conceptual art. In 2009, he purchased a former lemonade factory in Sanquhar and began restoring and converting its buildings into art spaces. He has since added the old abattoir across the road. In addition to MERZ Gallery, Rushton has opened a Museum of Model Art, ZIP Studios, and established a series of caravans that, in addition to a bothy (i.e., a cottage), provide housing to visiting artists. Rushton is making Sanquhar an arts destination.
From the Residency Journal
The sheep in the road from Edinburgh didn’t stop us from making it to Sanquhar. David, from MERZ Gallery, handed me keys to the bothy and workshop and explained how the solar power and hot water worked. We made plans to meet tomorrow and said goodnight. I needed dinner. The man at the fish and chips shop (Helen’s Kitchen next to Wiggins Pub) asked me if I wanted to try haggis. I said, maybe not the first day, but he slipped some into my order anyway. Tasty. I like black pudding and deep fried things so it was in the realm of my palate. I crossed off what everyone says is a ‘must do’ when visiting Scotland. Back at the bothy, I took a nap. Got up around 11PM, unpacked and situated my things. I went for a walk about the town, up Queens Road to High Street then to the end of town where Sanquhar Castle sits on a hill. The town is quiet. Wonderfully, eerie quiet. And still. One car passed the whole time I was walking.
Days later, on another walk, I found myself at Queensberry Square, which was full of rabbits munching on grass. I couldn’t get close enough as they scattered on my approach. The air was crisp and the clouds from the day’s rain had cleared and the moon was out. I turned on Station Road and passed a mechanic with two antique cars parked outside. The road dead ended at the train station. I headed back down the hill, cut over on Buccleuch Road, and found myself back on High Street near the Nithsdale in no time. I took some pictures of the Tolbooth from the middle of the road and climbed the steps and photographed the empty village.
Issued as an edition of ten with two artist proofs, prints are available at ARTSHOP. Individual prints are signed and numbered and available framed or unframed.
Sanquhar: Folio of Fourteen Prints by Ric Kasini Kadour. The folio includes a title sheet and the complete set of fourteen 8″x10″ collage prints on 90 lb Fabriano cold press watercolor paper; 2020. INQUIRE TO PURCHASE
In keeping with my practice of making art products, ARTSHOP is releasing two sets of postcards, “Greetings from Sanquhar”. “Greetings from Sanquhar” postcards, pack one and pack two are available at ARTSHOP.
Greetings from Sanquhar
at MERZ Gallery, Sanquhar, Scotland, United Kingdom