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Deveron Projects

The Town Is The Venue
Have you visited the Town Collection? Have you visited the Town Collection?

Jacques Coetzer

MacKay of Uganda


‘Give me room to move my feet’.
Mildred Kiconco Barya
An exploration into the life and work of Alexander MacKay

A foot print exploration in summer 2013 with a team of African and European artists including Rocca Gutteridge, Jacques Coetzer and Claudia Zeiske in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda.

In 1876, Alexander McKay an Aberdeenshire loon from Rhynie near Huntly went to Uganda carrying round a heavy printing press to disseminate his views of civilization and Christianity. Was he there to also expand the British Empire, directly or indirectly? Questions that have the rightful potential to send the conversation in a predictable, "colonial finger pointing" direction. But there is also a more pragmatic side to the story: like the adventure tourists today – the explorers and missionaries first and foremost were curious and through their wanderlust, spread the early seeds of globalization, whether for good or for bad. Humankind evolves through constant exploration and migration along trade routes. Apart from cultural cross-pollination and social evolution, these basic economic mechanisms inevitably also have effect on our approach to agriculture and industry and how we see ourselves in relation to nature and ecology.


Following the Room to Roam principle, a group of African and European artists walked through a Slow Marathon, over six days in the tropical rainforest of the Rwenzori mountains, the Mountains of the Moon. Trying to tread lightly but think deeply, they carried a small printing press leaving temporary traces as their footprints washed away, occasionally, standing on a mountain with the mists lifting to reveal a clear view of the sky and the valley below across the now closed Congolese border.

Artist Sanaa Gateja, who worked on The Lubare and The Boat project, has been exploring the life and work of Rhynie born missionary Alexander MacKay.

This project was organised in collaboration with Impact 8 Print Festival Scotland, Borders and Crossings: the artist as explorer.


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