Donald and Millar – curious arts

UAlberta artists Liz Ingram and Jason Veldstra represent but a drop in the bucket of a growing number of artists from all over the globe wading into issues of water and sustainability in their creative practice. Post-UAlberta Water Week and as Earth Hour on March 29 approaches, Curious Arts writer Jacques Talbot looks back at the Fall 2013 Art & Design lecture series at the University of Alberta when artist duo Minty Donald and Nick Millar from Glasgow, Scotland, presented their fascinating work centering around Glasgow’s River Clyde and their participation with Watershed+, a unique public art program hosted by the Utilities and Environment Protections Department of the City of Calgary.

Nick Millar borrowing water from Pipestone River. Courtesy the artists.

Minty Donald and Nick Millar are Scotland-based artists and researchers. Through ephemeral, action-led works in the public realm, their work examines the connection between humans and the immediate, though often unseen, environmental realm. Their work is diverse, responding to the sites of investigation with sound, performance, projection and transient sculptural elements.

“We are interested in exploring the complexity and multiplicity of our (human) relationships with the environments we build, shape and inhabit – and, equally, in how those environments shape and affect us” Minty Donald

Donald and Millar came to Alberta in the summer of 2013 to participate in a unique public art program, Watershed+, which aims to raise awareness and positive experiences in relation to the environment by providing a platform for creative initiatives to forge a bond between individuals, the community, and the watershed of the City of Calgary, with a view to informing new working methods and practices within the Utilities and Environment Protections department.

During their Alberta residency from April through September of 2013, Donald and Millar worked steadily with the Bow River to produce as many as five distinct studies acquiring further inspiration from conservation initiatives throughout Alberta that promote awareness and responsibility towards water as a resource upon which all species depend.

Water from twenty-one tributaries of the Bow River, Experiment #3, Guddling About, Calgary, September 2013.

Their Bow River studies ranged from portaging water as far from the river’s edge as possible by hand alone until said water was spilt/evaporated or otherwise exhausted, to freezing cylindrical columns of water in the approximate quantity in which it is embodied by various species.

To learn more of Donald & Millar’s Residency with Watershed+, visit:

To discover Donald & Millar’s experiments in vital materialism for yourself, visit:

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