Ruby Dregs 2005

Ruby Dregs was commissioned by The Changing Room and The Tolbooth in Stirling as part of the Wallace 700 city wide celebrations in 2005, on the 700th anniversary of William Wallace's death. It was made as part of a programme of musical and artist activity in local schools, where artists and musicians collaborated with pupils.Ruby Dregs was made with the participation of Primary six class at Bannockburn Primary School.

In the workshops for Ruby Dregs, the primary school children were asked to think of the body as a container of organs and liquid and electricity. The images they made were investigations into the way liquid (blood) might move in certain situations (execution) and the marks it might leave behind. They were asked to harness their own electric bodies in action painting, to drag colour through paste with the same texture as congealing blood, and to draw, graphically, what happened to William Wallace on his execution, using no colour.
The physical beauty and the brutality of the works, which were produced through these systems, is amalgamated in Ruby Dregs as an ambiguous animation work. There is no explicit reference to William Wallace, although the choreography of his execution is faithfully recreated. The work does cite, through oblique reference, other political or cultural situations, perhaps gay rights or black power. It is an attempt to think about what aesthetic methodology one might use to actually discuss contexts such as these. If the artist asks the children to consider what the faces of a crowd might look like as they watched a state execution, and they draw them Beano style, so be it. This incongruous yet sensible reaction is visually very powerful.
The children speak with glee about how they would murder an anonymous hero, for reasons unknown. We exit Ruby Dregs through a saturated landscape which could be drenched in the blood of anyone for any cause in any nation at any time.

Thank you to the whole class for their excellent work and enthusiasm and thanks especially to their teacher. Thanks also to Sarah Forrest for her artistic input and support.


Stills from Ruby Dregs pictured and installation view from The Changing Room gallery