Tuesday 6 July 2010

Monster hunter as art.

Eleanor Fawcett's Monster installation captures the life of Loch Ness hunter Steve Feltham By Ben Miller  05 July 2010

Exhibition: Steve Monster, A Travelling Installation, various venues

In 1991, Steve Feltham gave up his job and house to move to Scotland and pursue his dream of finding the Loch Ness monster. His life on the lakes has made him a cult figure since then, from broadsheet interviews and documentaries to Vodafone adverts and boat tours for Robin Williams."The first day I turned up there was a Bollywood film being shot round the corner from the van," says Eleanor Fawcett."He was much less of a hermit than I thought he would be. He had an Apple laptop and a much better video camera than I did." Fawcett first heard of Feltham while working at Rockness, the music festival which turns up on the banks of Loch Ness every year.I heard about this guy and I thought 'I really want to meet him,'" she reflects. A few calls to the local tourist information office and his local pub eventually resulted in Feltham allowing the young artist to stay with him for a week."I felt like I was meeting a Buddha," she admits. "He must have had this immense patience to stay there. When I first met him I was kind of in awe of him."He turned out to be a "lovely, very chilled out guy" who took her on boat trips of the folkloric waters."They use ultrasound so you can see what's under the water, which helps to spot anything red and strangely big."I love the myth and mystery of it, but as an artist I want to study individuals who interest me and their way of life. A lot of the project is my interpretation of the things Steve does."A colourful replica of Feltham's caravan, the installation features the femo monsters he makes his living from these days.
Inside, a 17-minute film installation follows Feltham's life, accompanied by graphs, charts, etchings and photos made by Fawcett while she was collecting information about possible sightings of the beast. "We had a few Loch Ness enthusiasts, including a girl who grew up near the Ness and thought my van was the original," she says. It wasn't the first time – when the van was in London, one of Feltham's mates asked him what his home was doing there. "One guy in a multicoloured tie dye t-shirt loved it. He'd been on the Ness a week earlier and was like, 'you've captured the whole vibe, man.'"

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