Under the Weather (2014/15) Marine Plywood, glass, transparencies, bronze, spraypaint, luminous paint, botanical labels, (2m x 2m x 1.5m) x 1.8m
Under the Weather was an architectural construct and artwork that became a shelter, meeting place and viewing chamber. It was sited on a sea boundary of the National Trust for Scotland’s most northerly property, Inverewe Gardens in the West Highlands of Scotland (2014-15).
Under the Weather continues a trajectory of Coutts’ work in which conflicting perspectives that inform perceptions of a particular site and its occupation are translated and reworked to form a newly realised film or structure. The ‘miraculous’ growing of sub-tropical plants at Inverewe is dependent on the warm air provided by the gulf stream and the shelter belt of trees that protect the plants from the elements. It is also dependent on the colonial activities of its former Victorian owners who would visit countries around the world to literally dig up plants to ship back to Scotland and trial at Inverewe. Coutts selected narrative fragments of a story of colonisation and its impact on a specific ecology, made them material and created a space of multiple function that included visitors’ responses in its process.
Due to the sudden changes of weather, the piece was often occupied for longer periods by visitors sitting out the downpours. What began as a visitor’s book transformed into a multi-authored, multi-lingual tale of exposure, survival, isolation and alternative ecologies. A short documentary film on the making of ‘Under the Weather’ was commissioned by IOTA (Inverness Old Town Association) and Creative Scotland and the publication ‘Artistic Reflections’ was instigated by the same partnership, documenting the impact of the work on visitors (published 2017). The selection of Coutts for the role of Signature Artist for The National Trust for Scotland, also involved consultancy activities focused on how to innovatively support working with artists within the Trust into the future. Over the six-month residency, Creative Scotland invited Coutts to contribute to a series of public seminars, talks and an interview with Two Lochs radio. Coutts’ structure is featured in The University of Edinburgh’s Open Access Edinburgh Research Explorer, Scottish Natural Heritage Autumn/Winter, (2014).
It was commissioned in partnership with the Trust and Creative Scotland in the Year of Natural Scotland. It was visited by over 62,000 visitors over the course of a season before it was taken down.