The University of Cumbria flag will be flying high when its honorary fellow Derek Eland arrives at Mount Everest Base Camp to become the first ever artist-in-residence.
The flag was presented to Derek by Director of University of Cumbria Institute of the Arts, Roddy Hunter as he wished him luck with his six-week trip to Nepal at the height of the climbing season.
Derek’s association with the university began in 2007 when he began a masters degree in contemporary fine art in Carlisle, and was subsequently awarded an honorary fellowship in 2015 for his ‘outstanding contribution to contemporary art’.
Derek is no stranger to working in extreme situations. In 2011 he spent four weeks in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, living with British troops at frontline army bases, recording their stories in a ‘diary room’ project.
He will be employing a similar approach at Everest Base Camp where he will be trying to understand what the mountain means to people of different nationalities, recording their challenges and triumphs as the climbers return after the disastrous earthquake last year. He hopes to upload their writings to an online ‘diary room’ which can be accessed from around the world.
“The journey to Everest to be artist-in-residence began during my MA in Contemporary Fine Art at the University of Cumbria, when I started to play with the problem of how to find out what people really think. ‘Diary Rooms’ emerged as the heart of my art practice - it will be a tremendous challenge to use this approach at Everest.
“It wouldn’t be possible without the support of the university and many other people and organisations who have supported me, for which I’m extremely grateful.”
The university’s Roddy Hunter comments:
“We are delighted that Derek will fly the University of Cumbria flag on arrival at Everest Base Camp, not as a territorial, colonial act but in recognition of his transformative journey through art and life that we have been proud to support."