Dexter Turriff-Davies - Contemporary Art Practice

"If pain is the feeling of loss brought from failing to arrive at the destination that nationhood promises, where does this attachment to pain take us?"


Queering the Sunlit Uplands  

The concerning power of nostalgia enthrals and grasps tightly upon the fleshy and temporal vessel that is our body, not for what it says about the past, but for what it represents within our present. In perpetual vassalage to far flung memories, from the family orientated, to public national events - woven together, underpinned by a bittersweet desire for an idealised, disconnected past, in hope of advancing a constructed intersectional continuity in spite of a tumultuous present. A wrenching clarion call for the embracing of utopian rupture.  

It’s this attachment to the pain of exclusion and its plaintive longing to share the yearning urges of nationalism and queer desire with a mutually exclusionary past, that this practice poses a succinct, direct question: If pain is the feeling of loss brought from failing to arrive at the destination that nationhood promises, where does this attachment to pain take us? 

Aims & Outcomes

The aim of “Queering the Sunlit Uplands” is to invite the viewer into the burgeoning chasm of dialogue between past and present; utilising the motifs and aesthetics of Scotland’s long constitutional and social wrangling as a vehicle of critique towards the hostile environment in which we currently reside. 

The outcomes of which are a queer, escapist audio-visual affair – in the form of a vinyl record and surreal pseudo-manifesto newspaper. The manifesto, “With Best Wishes, Billy: A Visual Manifesto for the Sunlit Uplands”, is a visual depiction of the vinyl record, “The Sunlit Uplands”, through the unconscious appropriation of recontextualised photographs of radical female nationalist politicians, displays of queer desire, patriarchal structures, fictional pro-independence propaganda and poetry. These depictions intermingle with sound which is brazenly foisted upon the viewer to expose the line between personal and political; family and nation, self and other as frayed, overlapping fragments of the past. 


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Student statement

Embarking on an ambitious project of this scale while set up in a home-studio environment due to COVID-19, I have garnered new skills and embraced the chance to explore, deepen and develop my practise further as an artist. The “Queering the Sunlit Uplands” has opened up new avenues both personally and professionally within my practise, such as reaching out to alternative printing facilities such as Newspaper presses and vinyl record plants, to furthering my networks within the political and artistic realms – notably the chance to have works archived by the renowned independent cultural hub, the Bishopsgate Institute, London. Where a collection of my publications and vinyl records will be archived and disseminated through learning experiences alongside fellow examples of U.K. LGBTQ+ history and culture.

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