Arts / Shona chosen for San Antonio art exchange project

The two artists’ work will feed into debate about the climate emergency

Shona Main's 'Looking for beluga: 1977, 2018'. A still from her film thesis What am I doing here?

SHETLAND-based filmmaker and writer Shona Main has been selected to participate in an exchange project involving a museum in Texas.

She has been awarded an international residency/exhibition opportunity through X-CHANGE, a partnership between Shetland Arts and the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, in an exchange also involving Texas-based conceptual artist Holly Veselka.


X-CHANGE is funded by the British Council and Creative Scotland, with support from the Art Fund (UK) and the Association of Art Museum Curators, providing the opportunity for a Shetland and a Texan artist to research and explore the distinct geographies of the two areas in relation to energy production and climate change.

Shona’s recent work has taken her to the Canadian Arctic where she has been researching the life and practice of twentieth century filmmaker Jenny Gilbertson.

Speaking about her new challenge, Shona said that working across Scotland and Texas “at a time when our worlds have shrunk” was a “well-timed and welcome opportunity”, while being paired with Holly “has already drawn me into another realm of thinking”.


“I am so looking forward to seeing and learning from her as she explores energy production using her distinctive way of looking at – and making with – the micro and the macro,” Shona said.

Holly Veselka’s Installation shot, Mine the Gap, Buffalo Bayou Collection: Flora. Photo by Nash Baker courtesy of Lawndale.

“We have only ever experienced the extraction – or extractivism – resources as conceived and realised by the patriarchy and enabled by capitalism. Asking ‘what if women were the ones who had created the ideas, language and realities of power, resources and industry?’

“I would like to seek out and listen to some of the unheard voices of Shetland women and Native American women in the hope of revealing a new possibility – a different way of looking and thinking about how we can power our lives.”


Holly, meanwhile, creates moving image work, digital archives and installations exploring humanity’s relationship with the natural world. She often uses laser and infrared scanning, and aims to use these processes to explore the natural and industrial landscape of Shetland during her residency later this year.

She said she was looking forward to collaborating and sharing experiences with Shona.

Jane Matthews of Shetland Arts said: “We’re really excited about the value of this international partnership with the McNay. Given Shetland’s long relationship with the extraction economy, and our wind farm future ahead of us, I’m particularly interested to see what Holly and Shona create, to feed into the vital conversation about the climate emergency.”