Finding inspiration at our Distillery

27 September 2013

By Andy Fairgrieve, AIR Co-ordinator

Anyone who has ever visited us in Dufftown knows that we’re lucky enough to live and work in an incredibly beautiful, inspiring corner of Scotland. But not only is it the perfect place for creating exceptional single malt whiskies, it’s also an ideal spot to create compelling works of art.

For the past twelve years the Glenfiddich Distillery has been quietly building on its reputation for being a home to the creative spirit through our Artists in Residence programme

It was Peter Gordon, a fifth generation descendant of William Grant, who launched our Artists in Residence programme in 2002. Since then, the programme has seen 86 breakthrough artists from around the globe spend three months living and working at the Distillery, being inspired by the place, the process, the surroundings. In return, they inspire us, helping us stay true to the pioneering and innovative spirit of William Grant.

It’s an open invitation. Every summer, the artists we invite are free to create whatever artwork they like, helped with a £10,000 donation and given the chance to collaborate with each other. The results are frequently astonishing.


Daniel Zalkus – Still House (2012)

Employing a wide range of media; from film, animation, painting, drawing, photography, printing, sculpture and installation, our artists strive to draw on the surrounding architecture, local community and our proud heritage to inspire their work. 

When they arrive, we give all of our artists the VIP tour, immersing them in life at the Distillery. It’s important to us that our artists understand the passion behind our story and absorb the atmosphere of the place. But we never tell them what to do. William Grant was an independent spirit and so are we. We believe that a supportive and non-prescriptive relationship is the best environment to nurture true creativity.

JJ Valaya – The Cask and the Custodian (2011)

We recently passed the half-way point of this summer’s residency and on the 31st August we hosted the first exhibition showcasing our artists’ work in our onsite gallery.

For Jonathan Ehrenberg, Daniel Barrow and Erick Meyenberg who all arrived in early June, this marked the culmination of their time at our Distillery and an opportunity to share the efforts of their residency with the wider world.

Jonathan, a film maker from New York has spent the last few months assembling sets and costumes for his latest work, loosely based on age old tales of a mysterious Highland creature known as the Brollachan, majestically depicted by former artist, Damian Moppett in 2010 (below).

Damian Moppett – The Brollachan (2010)

Jonathan has found inspiration in the great outdoors and for the first time decided to include real life locations in his as yet untitled film. Some of the props that Jonathan has created from an eclectic range of materials are exhibited alongside his film in our on-site gallery.

Clearly our artists find our location inspiring. The landscape surrounding the distillery has certainly been a focus for Mexican Erick Meyenberg, who specialises in research based light and audio installation pieces. With an interest in the interactions between industry and the natural landscape, Erick is currently working on an impressive installation examining the contrasts of light and shade that he has discovered since his arrival in Scotland.

Just before the unveiling of Erick’s installation and Jonathan’s film, a select audience were able to enjoy a rare live animation performance by master storyteller Daniel Barrow.  For one night only the former Sobey award winner premiered his latest work, ‘ I can’t stop looking at you’ in our visitor centre theatre. Best known for his use of overhead projectors in his multi layered animations, Daniel chose to retro-ise a laptop to display late 1980s style commodore graphics for this performance.  A specially edited version of the work is currently exhibited in the gallery alongside some of the original drawings from the performance.

If you plan to visit us at our Distillery some time soon, be sure to check in and see what our artists are up to. If you can’t visit us while our artists are at work, don’t worry. Each artist leaves behind at least one piece of work, sometimes in the most unusual of places, for people to discover when they take a tour of our Distillery.

We’re proud to support our artists and believe they give us new inspiration each year. You can find more details about all our artists in residence and the projects they’re working on at: