I’m Sebastian Boyle of the Boyle family, and we’re here at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, where we’re having an exhibition of the Barra Project from our World Series. I’m actually nervous. There are two hours to go until the opening, and the main piece we haven’t seen yet.
It’s to the wire as usual, with Boyle family projects!
When Mark and Joan were developing the ideas behind the World Series, the idea was that we were doing a random survey of Planet Earth, and it started back in 1968 when Georgia and my father Mark Boyle and our mother Joan Hills, invited a bunch of their friends round to their flat in London and got them to be blindfolded, and to throw or fire darts at a large map of the world. A thousand sites were chosen. This one was in the Outer Hebrides, the Island of Barra, and it’s the first British one that we’ve managed to complete.
These are two elemental studies, a sand piece and a rock cliff, and the actual site itself was in the sea just off the island, on the Atlantic side. There is a film piece which is of the actual World Series site.
We’ve got the electron microphotographs of sea creatures that we found. We took a water sample when we were out doing the filming, and these ones are of plankton. And then behind us here, we have seaweed, alga. The bottom one is quite extraordinary, because you think it’s seaweed on top of something else, but what it’s on top of is actually seaweed as well, so you see the platelets.
We’re trying to make as detailed a picture as we can by looking at things like, there are people there, where do they go? Why do they walk there? What… you know… how many are there?
These are electron microphotographs of the roots of our hairs, and that’s because we believed it was important to include ourselves in each project, partly in acknowledgement that we are not completely neutral observers. We are not just flying over, not having an effect on the site at all.
The trouble is, we get into fierce arguments, and sometimes on colour matching and things like that. Eventually maybe the loudest voice wins, but usually when we get the colour right we know we all agree we’ve got it right, and that’s what you work with.
And you have that weird thing where someone has an idea or thinks of a way of doing something, and someone else opposes them vehemently, and you can have a big argument about it, and then the other person will kind of walk away from it and come back, having come back round to someone else’s point of view, and that other person in the meantime has come round to the other way. So actually, it kind of… it weirdly works its way out, you know.
Making art is fantastic, whether it’s doing painting or drawing or trying to solve a problem. We are in our case mixing buckets of resin and fibreglass and all of that – just the actual making, and using your hands and your head and everything, being totally immersed in something, is glorious. It’s just a deeply satisfying way of life. It drives us mad, but it’s inspiring. This is what we do.
And really, it’s not over yet!