Elaine Shemilt’s work ranges across a wide variety of media – from printmaking and video, to installation. She uses visual art is as a means of representing and communicating theories, scientific ideas and discovery.
She has exhibited internationally including Switzerland, Denmark, Holland, Canada, USA and Germany including the Hayward, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Imperial War Museum, London; and the Edinburgh Festival. She has held residencies at South Hill Park Arts Centre and Winchester School of Art and Wollongong, Australia. In 1997 her exhibition “Behind Appearance ” toured across the mid-west of the USA.
Elaine is the Professor of Fine Art Printmaking at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, the University of Dundee in Scotland. She is the President of the Society of Scottish Artists. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2000 and became a Shackleton Scholar in 2001 for her work in the South Atlantic and in particular the Island of South Georgia. In 2008 she was elected a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society.
In 1999 she led a project for the Ministry of Defense to improve the physical environment for servicemen and women stationed in the Falkland Islands. She also rescued artwork and graffiti produced by ordinary soldiers during the conflict of 1983 and arranged for its restoration and display in the Falklands. Her time in the Falklands also inspired the Exhibition ‘Traces of Conflict’ in 2002, which she co-curated with the Imperial War Museum.
Along with David Nicholls, in 2001 she established the research and consultancy group Project Atlantis, whose work includes a five-year web-based research contract for the environmental sustainability of the island of South Georgia for the Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands. The research extends into Discovery Science of the early 20th Century and its dissemination through the website and the recently refurbished shell of the historic scientific research station Discovery House, on South Georgia into a visitors centre. Stakeholders include British Antarctic Survey, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Scott Polar Institute, Royal Oceanographic Society.
With two colleagues in Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design Elaine won an AHRB Resource Enhancement Award of £320,000. The project, “The Demarco Archives: accessing a 40-Year Dialogue between Richard Demarco and the European Avant-Garde”, ran from 2005-2008 and created an online resource detailing Demarco’s photographic collection of original artworks and associated material of international range and significance.
Elaine’s most recent collaborative project is with scientists from the Scottish Crop Research Institute. The full genome sequence of the bacterial potato plant pathogen (Erwinia) carotovora subsp. atroseptica (Eca) has now been fully sequenced in a project led by the Scottish Crop Research Institute in collaboration with the Sanger Institute. As well as developing an exhibition of prints Elaine is working on a translation of the sequence into music and into multi media art forms.