The Valentine project: A landscape with trees

Lisa MacKenzie, Victoria Bernie, John MacDonald

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

The Valentine Project is an exercise in graphic archaeology, an attempt to mine the complex questions of landscape, ecology and representation in Scotland through the device of drawing. It seeks to unpack the familiar compositional tropes of the landscape postcard in Scotland through close collaboration with specialists in the field of ecology and historical geography, to examine issues of composition, subject and point of view, species genealogy, alien species allied to industrial resourcing, evidence of agriculture and land management and the inclusion and exclusion of ‘human detail’ in the sustained – and we would argue limiting – aesthetic of Scotland as a somehow ‘natural/found/wild land’ as opposed to a worked, cultivated, occupied and cherished landscape. The creative agenda of the project is the investigation and subsequent invention of a form of graphic representation able to both critique the somewhat jaded topographic view [postcard] and offer an alternative in the form of a graphic language sensitive to the detail of landscape evolution, occupation and ecological layering. A form of landscape representation awake to the realities of the human landscapes of Scotland and therefore equipped to represent alternative offerings, in effect to illuminate the other landscapes of Scotland that acknowledge the changing nature of dwelling – living and working – in the complex landscapes of a modern country. The project centres on a singular body of landscape representation, the photographic archive of J Valentine and Co., Dundee and within that archive the postcard collection of some 50,000 topographic views of Scotland made between 1898 and 1967 and held in the Libraries of St. Andrews University.

The Valentine Project deploys the specialist knowledge of Landscape Architecture, Visual Art, Ecology and Historical Geography in the exploration of a sequence of iconic landscape views. Through a process of investigation [fieldwork, dialogue and archive research] deconstruction [drawing, sampling, survey and documentation] and invention [drawing] the project seeks to define a new graphic language for the representation of landscape in Scotland. Our approach centres upon the development of a highly specialised drawing language that seeks to communicate the action and interaction of natural [biotic] and human [abiotic] factors upon the landscape. Our output is intended as a counter-tactic to the limiting conventions of landscape representation, an alternative image able to engage citizens with landscape and stewardship. A visual language at once beautiful and revelatory informed by scientific rigour and tempered by creative invention.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImagining Natural Scotland
EditorsDavid Griffith
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherCreative Scotland
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)978 1 851192076
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventReading and Exhibiting Nature - University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 7 Feb 20149 Feb 2014


ConferenceReading and Exhibiting Nature
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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