THE enigmatic life of a mysterious maned lioness is at the centre of a new artwork which is representing Scotland at the world’s biggest visual art festival.

The lioness, known by the title SaF05, but also nicknamed Mmamoriri or “hairy princess”, and the artist Charlotte Prodger’s personal search for her in Botswana, is at the heart of the film which will be unveiled today.

The new “absorbing, enduring and deeply affecting” work, a 39-minute film by the 2018 Turner Prize winning artist, is named after the rare lioness in a work which forms Scotland’s artistic contribution to the 58th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

Described as the artist’s most “ambitious work to date”, it is being shown in a former boatyard, the historic Cucchini shipyard, revamped for Prodger’s installation, in the Arsenale Docks of the famous Italian canal city.

The art work uses archive footage, diary films and scientific imagery as well as the footage Prodger is known for: films recorded on her smart phone.

The National: Charlotte Prodger won the Turner Prize in 2018Charlotte Prodger won the Turner Prize in 2018

The film is the official Scottish contribution to the festival, which brings together dozens of shows from countries around the world.

This year, the official UK Pavilion is also staging work by Glasgow-based artist Cathy Wilkes.

Prodger’s film is – in a first for the Scotland+Venice shows – touring venues around Scotland at the same time as it is being shown to art critics, curators, gallery owners and tourists in Venice from May 11 to November 24.

Prodger, who grew up in Aberdeenshire and attended Glasgow School of Art, sees the film as part of an autobiographical trilogy, along with Stoneymollan Trail from 2015 and Bridgit from 2016.

Imagery in the film also includes scenes from the Great Basin Desert in North America, the streets of Glasgow, as well as the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana.

SaF05 is the last of several maned lionesses documented in the Okavango Delta and is known to Prodger through a “database of behaviours and camera-trap footage logged across several years”.

Prodger travelled to Botswana in November 2018 in search of the lioness, who is the last to have developed the unusual physical feature.

The artist worked with the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, as well as with experts on the ground and a wildlife documentary crew, to try to track the lioness for weeks on the flat plains of the delta.

She found that the lioness, as well as having a mane, displayed male behaviour including roaring more often, and killing and feeding in the open.

The film uses a variety of techniques, including film industry cameras, static camera, drones, handheld devices and Prodger’s own smart phone.

Sounds and music include a bagpipe drone, the cicada’s mating call, and battery alarms.

Linsey Young, curator of the show, said: “Having known Charlotte since 2012 and having had the opportunity to exhibit Stoneymollan Trail and Bridgit with her, it is a huge privilege to have had some involvement in the development and curation of the final film in the trilogy, her new commission for Venice, SaF05.

“Charlotte is an artist whose singular and compelling voice resonates with people throughout the world and I am thrilled to be sharing her uncompromising, expansive yet engaging work with the international communities of Venice and at home in Scotland where the work will tour the Highlands and Islands from June 2019.

“At a time of huge political change in the United Kingdom we are presenting on this most international of stages an artist who for me represents the best of modern Scotland, a bold, critical and politically engaged voice that speaks of the welcoming and forward thinking nature of our country.”

Alexia Holt, the associate director of Cove Park, said: “Charlotte’s first residency at Cove Park in 2010 came at a key moment in her career, following graduation from Glasgow School of Art’s Master of Fine Art Course.

READ MORE: Alexia Holt: 10 things that changed my life

“We were delighted to welcome Charlotte back to Cove Park in the summer of 2018 as she began to develop her ideas for SaF05 and to have this opportunity to work with Linsey and the Scotland + Venice partners.”

Amanda Catto, the chair of Scotland+Venice and head of visual arts at Creative Scotland, said Prodger is an artist who “makes work of exceptional vision, rigour and integrity”.

She added: “It is a tremendous honour, and a pleasure, for the partners to be working with her on this most ambitious and remarkable exhibition – building on her significant work and achievements to date.

“SaF05 is an absorbing, enduring and deeply affecting work that will resonate with audiences for some time to come. We are immensely excited to share this work with our international colleagues in Venice and to audiences back home through the Scottish tour.”