Hannah Imlach is a visual artist-researcher working predominantly in sculpture and photography. Her transient and site-specific artworks respond to particular ecologies, exploring sites of environmental conservation and renewable energy transition. These projects are research-led, initiated and sustained by opportunities to work within communities of specialist environmental knowledge, including scientific research groups, conservation charities and community organisations. Her sculptures focus on sensory interaction and are often foldable, faceted, or kinetic.
(Image: Hannah Imlach in her exhibition From the dark ocean comes light, 2017; photo Alex Ingle)
Hannah is currently completing a uniquely-structured practice research PhD within Human Geography at the University of Edinburgh. The project, titled Close Encounters; art, presence and environmental engagement at Loch Lomond, is conducted in partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and supported by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities’ Collaborative Doctoral Award. Uniquely situated within the School of Geosciences’ interdisciplinary research community and supported by supervisory expertise from the fields of ecological art practice, cultural and more-than-human geographies, ecocriticism, and conservation, the studentship asks: What role can site-specific artwork, in the context of a nature reserve, play in strengthening multispecies connection?
In this short film Hannah introduces her Close Encounters research, which seeks to explore environmental perception through the creation of a series of site-specific sculptures within RSPB Loch Lomond, informed by on-site experiences of conservation practice, ecological research on species patterns of presence and absence and human-animal encounter.
Flow Country Sculpture Series
The following images document Hannah’s ecologically engaged process and one of her most significant projects to-date. Initiated in 2017, Hannah undertook an 18-month artist residency with the Flows to the Future peatland restoration project, commissioned by the Peatlands Partnership. The role saw her spend extended periods at the Forsinard Flows Field Centre in the far North-East of Scotland observing peatland restoration and engaging with the complex ecologies of blanket bogs through collaboration with researchers at the University of the Highlands and Islands, Thurso.
The outcome of this residency is the Flow Country Sculpture Series, nine sculptural works that draw on, and synthesise, different aspects of peatland plant life with meteorological instrumentation used to measure the atmospheric conditions and carbon capture of the bog. These pieces were temporarily installed within the Flow Country during July 2018, then exhibited in the Flow Works exhibition at Thurso Art Gallery, as part of Beneath the Blanket at the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh, and at the Royal Scottish Academy (forthcoming, September 2021).
Enjoy this short film as Hannah shows pages from her various Flow Country sketchbooks.
The artist film Fieldwork (7:20, 2018) documents the return of the Flow Country Sculpture Series to the peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland. Focusing on the adjustment and orientation of the sculptures, the film mirrors the labour of peatland scientists to monitor and maintain their instruments, in order to better understand and protect the unique and fragile ecology of the bog.