Sara Gadd’s work,”Navigating Stevenson”, is about dislocation. People and things wrenched from their contexts draw her attention and provoke her curiosity. Photography, which is her artistic medium, is another such act of removal - images taken from objects and given a sort of locomotion, like ghosts. Finally, she creates, in the computer, a virtual context for these images of objects, an evocation of their first place.

It is the nature of relics to be disconnected in this way. And, like the medieval church, the museum becomes the scene of their veneration, the occasion of meditation upon the tenuous threads of imagination that might reconnect them. Scholarship too attempts this reconstitution and to undo the barbarity of dismemberment in which the museum has unwittingly participated.

A life lived and one recounted can be subject to the same dislocation. For this reason, Sara Gadd has been attracted to the case of Robert Louis Stevenson and his voyaging in the South Seas. Stevenson drew connections of memory and moral understanding between the South Seas and the Scotland of his youth and young adulthood, in order that dislocation should not lead him to the Heart of Darkness or to a fantasy of the Golden Age.

Sara Gadd places objects and images connected with Stevenson’s travels in a representation of the place and time that once they shared, created within the computer. In that virtual environment, they hover between fact and dream, as did Stevenson and as does poetry.

© Dr James Lawson, University Of Edinburgh 2002


For details on the objects depicted in the Navigating Stevenson series, roll your mouse over the objects and click

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