Glen Onwin, Mossers, Rebels and Wolves, Heather forest (coral) tree, 2004

This large-scale installation explores ideas about the history and ecology of Scotland's forests. The heather twigs, coated in red and black pigment and wax, represent a forest in miniature.

A layer of partially evaporated salt is visible on the back panels of the two large vitrines, a reference to the idea of salt as a building block for life.

In the title of the artwork, the artist refers to incidents in Scotland's history when forests were burned or destroyed to rid them of apparent threats.

The artist uses colours - red and black - associated with life and death, and danger. The colours also recall the graphic design approach typical of many political posters.

The artwork also explores ideas about the potential for regrowth in nature.

Glen Onwin, "The work in essence represents the tree and its symbolic, alchemical meaning. Heather, with all its cultural associations, is the forest in miniature and the tenacity, diversity and variation within Scotland."

 Mossers, Rebels and Wolves


Born in Edinburgh in 1947, Glen Onwin studied at the Edinburgh College of Art in the School of Drawing and Painting. After teaching art and lecturing at Glasgow School of Art, Duncan of Jordanstone and Gray’s (Aberdeen) he took up a lecturing post at Edinburgh College of Art. He is an Associate Member of the Royal Scottish Academy.

He is represented in many public collections, including the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Tate Gallery, London, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Glasgow Museums, the City Arts Centre, Edinburgh, Dundee University, Edinburgh College of Art, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester and Southampton City Art Gallery.

He has exhibited widely throughout the UK and Europe. Previous exhibitions include ‘Revenges of Nature’ at the Fruitmarket in 1988, where the artist utilised materials such as coal dust, wax, plant matter, chemicals and metals and returned to canvas based works. In 1992, he created a site-specific installation in a derelict building, the Halifax Square Chapel, for a Henry Moore Sculpture Trust project and in 1997, he created a large-scale installation in Geevnor Mine entitled ‘Blood of the Pelican’ for a Tate St Ives exhibition ‘Quality of the Light’ sited at various venues. This large installation of kite and rectangular shapes containers explored both the history of the local area and the processes involving in the mining of tin.

He was one of the artists who with Sutherland Hussey Architects and lead artist Jake Harvey won the RIAS best new building in Scotland award in 2003 for the Tiree Shelter. It was also short-listed for the Stirling Prize the same year. The other artists were Donald Urquhart and Sandra Kennedy.

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