A series of diary drawings and collages made while on Skaftfell residency in Seyðisfjörður Iceland.
Text by Lizzie Homersham:
When Katona was dropped as the face of frozen food specialist Iceland, Liam Scully empathised with her fate. Kerry’s error lay in breach of brand values; in consumption of a kind of coke that Iceland did not stock. Scully, too, has been laid off in the past; his product falling short of supermarket and art market demands alike. The artist’s answer? A residency in Iceland. Anxious to avoid the plight of the ex-Atomic Kitten, Scully substituted frozen aisles for the frozen vistas of Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, where Skaftfell Centre’s residency program took him in.
On his return to London, Liam Scully presents paintings, works on paper and video, all of which bear witness – as notes and observations sometimes condensed and highly worked, sometimes hastily rendered and serialised across different media – to three months of self-imposed exile. Scully sought inspiration in the specifically Icelandic: he went out to get some Northern Lights action. He went out to get some tectonic action. He went out in search of Dieter Roth, in whose memory Seyðisfjörður‘s Skaftfell Centre was founded:
It was my first intention to find a new creative outlet away from the confines of London: if I could summon the spirit of Dieter Roth using a magical ritual and ask him for guidance during my stay, I thought I may return to London a better artist.
The ritual was simple: Scully began frequenting Cafe Lara, Seyðisfjörður‘s small and merry bar. The spirit of Roth found him soon enough, in an unexpected confrontation with Dieter’s grandson Oddur. The encounter was alarming, seeing Scully almost strangled by his own scarf. Scully’s blog post ‘Night of the Viking Fist’ documents the artist’s defensive action: a blow delivered to Oddur’s ribs. But as a pacifist artist, favouring friendly fist comparisons to physical blows, Scully ended his quest for Dieter there.
Photographs subsequently taken on a night walk in search of the Northern Lights pay homage to the non-event; the lights emerged just after Scully had given up hope and decided to retrace his steps, therefore documentation is of the road back home. Was Liam yet nostalgic for the volatility of Lara? Drawings such as Camcunt and goatlegged queen reveal the artist’s anger as he reflected remotely on the state of affairs in the UK. ‘Quake’, a video work of everyday actions – shopping at the local supermarket, having a beer or going for a walk – is enlivened by the presence of a fictional earthquake. Betraying the artist’s inclination for amplifying and dramatizing the mundane, Scully’s short film imagines the passive into activity, deriving volatility from a natural source.