Artist wins residency award for Brexit-inspired doomsday bunkers

An artist has won a prize worth £10,000 after creating doomsday bunkers inspired by people stockpiling food amid fears of a no-deal Brexit.

Gabrielle Gillott, 24, is the winner of the 2020 Glenfiddich Residency Award, the largest of its kind for an emerging artist in Scotland.

She built her first bunker for her degree show at Edinburgh College of Art, painting the room and all objects within it a shade of purple called Safe Haven.

Ms Gillott said: “Titles given to interior paint colours act as a springboard in my practice.

“‘Safe haven’ drew me into an obsession with the prepping world, first with American doomsday preppers’ bunkers, then that evolved into a fascination with those prepping for a no-deal Brexit.”

Edinburgh College of Art degree show preview
Edinburgh College of Art degree show preview

She was chosen from artists taking part in the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) New Contemporaries exhibition, a showcase of students who graduated from Scotland’s five art colleges in 2019.

For the exhibition, which opens to the public on Saturday at the RSA Galleries on the Mound in Edinburgh, she created a new three-room bunker installation titled Reading Room, Hidey Hole, Secret Room.

Ms Gillott, from Sheffield, will now join artists from around the world for a three-month residency at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Moray, in the summer.

The artists are given a house and studio, a monthly stipend of £1,400 each and a £5,800 budget to create new work.

Andy Fairgrieve, co-ordinator of the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence programme, said: “This year’s show is one of the strongest I have seen, with plenty of possible candidates for the Glenfiddich Award.

RSA New Contemporaries 202015 February – 11 MarchNow in its 12th year, RSA New Contemporaries is a platform for the best emerging talent in Scotland, featuring 62 artists and architects. Ruby Pluhar

— RoyalScottishAcademy (@RoyalScotAcad) February 6, 2020

“However the boldness and professionalism of Gabrielle’s installation drew the attention of our selection panel.

“Gabrielle creates environments reminiscent of Cold War-era bunkers, reimagined through an aesthetic of 3D computer modelling, perfectly encapsulating a zeitgeist of uncertain times.”

Colin Greenslade, RSA director, said: “The opportunity for an emerging artist to join the wider group of international practitioners at Glenfiddich is an enormous privilege and honour.

“It has the possibility to catapult an artist’s career into a new international network.”