Ackling Cook Bothy
Refurbishment of and new extension to existing rural stone cottage in the Scottish Borders.
Through, sleeper, a small gallery space that is embedded within our office we have become friends with many renowned artists from across the world. Sleeper was co-founded with the eminent artist Professor Alan Johnston. One of the artists who has become particularly influential to us through his show at sleeper is Roger Ackling. Roger Ackling is an internationally acclaimed artist and a key figure in the British group of land artists that include Richard Long and Hamish Fulton. Roger was also an important educator being the Professor of Fine Art and Painting at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London.
Roger and his good friend from art college days, Martin Cook, went on a walking break in the Scottish Borderlands following the death of Martin’s wife. They returned to the Borders on many occasions after that first difficult trip during which time they hatched a plan over a beer to buy a remote bothy for Martin, Roger and his wife Sylvia. They found one in the Ettrick Valley. We were approached by Roger, Sylvia and Martin to help them renovate and extend what is a very remote and lonely bothy next to the Ettrick Water. The extended bothy now accommodates a large living, dining space with sleeping gallery along with kitchen, toilet and two bedrooms with shared bathroom in the extension.
Roger’s work is concerned with drawing, drawing by means of the sun. Roger burns exquisite marks, using a magnifying glass, on pieces of found wood. The wood often comes from the shoreline and is always jetsam. Once useful but now discarded these pieces are rediscovered as works of art.
We imagined the existing bothy almost as if it were building jetsam, a once useful shelter has now been abandoned. The concept for the new extension is a shadow on the hill. Imagining cultural enlightenment from the North, a shadow is cast southwards from the elemental bothy form. This idea combines notions and passions about Scotland and the North coupled with an understanding and reference to Roger’s work. The new extension is literally etched into the site. The prismatic form of the extension is clad in delicate timber battens held off a black weatherproofed timber structure. The larch battens have been charred, once more in dialogue with Roger’s work while at the same time forming a protective layer. The resulting modest building is at once reticent and strangely powerful.