Open Call


a bench for bute

The park-benches has come to commonly site people within a specific bounded relationships to nature, particularly through the lens of leasuire, within the context of conversations around well-being and the ‘healing power’ of the natural world.

However, relations with nature are a site of historical persectution. Through periods in history, to be in commune with the land was to be in cummune with evil; with the other-wordly.

The 17th centruy seen witch trails carried out across Scotland including on the Isle of Bute. Between 1661- 62, the Parish of Rothesay saw six woman accused and tried for witchcraft. Some of the evidence used against these woman weaponised local and traditional knowledges of the land through use of natural plant based remedies for ailments.

This proposal considers the bench as a point of condensed time, communication (with other people & environments), and their ability to set up new relationships physical through repositioning of the body, and culturally in the relationships they can set up between sitter and specific places.

The design is an assemblage of materials, drawing upon and abstracting the language of Stuart House’s architecture, in particular its articulation of openings between spaces as portals. Six charred timber sections are a quiet memorial to the above history. As an assemblage, the bench encourages a deeper engagement with specific and wider histories of ecology, mythology, time and oppression on the Isle.