The worlds of Robinson Crusoe and Alexander Selkirk collide in new exhibition by award winning artist Roger Palmer.
Exactly 300 years after the publication of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, artist Roger Palmer, in association with Fife Contemporary, presents an exhibition installation that offers a fresh approach to Defoe’s much discussed novel.
Through contemporary photographic imagery drawn from two maritime locations and temporary works based on vintage illustrations, Refugio; after Selkirk after Crusoe explores the conflation of Daniel Defoe’s fictional castaway with the real-life experiences of a Scottish sailor, Alexander Selkirk.
Running from 30 March to 23 June 2019 at Kirkcaldy Galleries, the exhibition takes place just 13 miles from the birthplace of Selkirk, Lower Largo, to create a new chapter in this fascinating story.
Blurring the lines between fact and fiction, Palmer combines different approaches to representation: analogue and digital photographs made in Fife and on Isla Robinson Crusoe some 400 miles of the coast of Chile; large-scale wall drawings based on illustrations in an early 20th century book; and extracts from J M Coetzee’s 1986 novel, Foe.
Palmer’s starting point was the discovery of a German children’s book, Robinson, in a second hand bookshop in South Africa. Drawn to its engraved illustrations, he set out on a physical and conceptual journey of exploration taking him to Lower Largo and Isla Robinson Crusoe before eventually completing several works in situ at Kirkcaldy Galleries.
The result is a mixed media installation that brings together contemporary and historical imagery drawn from coastal landscapes over 7000 miles apart.
Winner of the Bill Brandt Prize in 1987 and several research grants from national and international funding sources, Roger Palmer works primarily with photography to address concepts of place and placelessness, location and dislocation, migration and settlement. Since the early 1970s his work has been widely exhibited on several continents.
He was a co-founder of the MFA Photography Course at Glasgow School of Art and is Emeritus Professor at the University of Leeds where he was Chair of Fine Art from 2005-2012. This is his first show in Scotland in over a decade.
Fife Contemporary director Diana Sykes said: ‘We are delighted to show Roger Palmer’s complex and nuanced work in Fife and through it to bring the local together with the international. Situated so close to the home of Alexander Selkirk’s home, Kirkcaldy Galleries is the ideal venue to mark the significant anniversary of the publication of the seminal novel he inspired. Through the artist’s lens we have the opportunity to re-examine what the Robinson Crusoe story can mean within today’s context.’
Roger Palmer – Refugio: after Selkirk after Crusoe, takes place at the Kirkcaldy Galleries, War Memorial Gardens, Kirkcaldy, from 30 March, unti Sunday 23 June.