Tuesday 12 April 2016


GLASGOW INTERNATIONAL - KELVIN HALL, Glasgow Print STUDIO, Modern Institute,  New Glasgow Society .... etc plus Public art in MANHATTAN 
Playtime at the Modern Institute 
GI, as it's known, now covers every available space in the city. Glasgow's cheap rents - in relation to London at least! - encourage an array of shop fronts, damp corners, flats etc as venues, but a new place is the famous, now derelict KELVIN HALL built in 1927 right opposite Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
Kelvin Hall, soon to be transformed via 14 million quid into a .... well no-one is quite sure what! A cultural hub? Maybe. For Glasgow Museums; Sport, National Library of Scotland & GU??

Now even the sadly decaying walls and - no lifts folks- lots of dirty stairs - are open for art. 

This is GI's 7th season. It's better than in 2014 - which I was extremely disappointed by. GI 2014 did nothing to help Glasgow's reputation. 
This year's theme is "making, production & craft," with some links to the "legacy of industry." This has encouraged rather too much involvement with yarn/wool/fabric etc. 
Claire Barclay.

Here 2 women employ materials - fabric, leather, cotton fabric - to address ideas culled from previous long ago festivals. 
HELEN JOHNSON, an Australian, takes Glasgow's 1901 International Exhibition as her inspiration to create 6 huge canvas hangings for the Foyer which involve both figuration & abstraction, colonial nation-building, Greek myths, Renaissance masterpieces .. "history as cynicism"-  all explained in pretentious text.

However her SURFACES & patterned textures are great. If u ignore the pathetic scribbled notes on the back & focus on the front of "Colonial Reef" or "Rape of Europa, Australian Version"  u will be intrigued & rewarded.

KELVIN HALL  is GREAT space for these 2 artists who work big.  I was impressed by Helen but again disappointed by Claire Barclay, who seems to have run out of her former  energy & ideas.
Upstairs - and I mean up lots of stairs - BARCLAY addresses the 1951 Exhibition (a satellite of the famous Festival of Britain) & its coal & steel prominence. I went to the Festival of Britain, taken by my parents who were high with hope for the future after a terrible war spent in Sheffield among the bombing. I remember it all vividly. I am sure the Glasgow event was a similar excitement. 

Barclay's installation mixes leather, rubber, engine grease, soot & coal tar with small machined metals in her efforts "to explore how meanings are encapsulated within materials." The problem is nothing comes thro. The installation is also too small for this imposing space.   

There I also met the colourful (tho dressed in black) ice cream artists Schwabe & Pascual who are purveying ice cream made from invasive plants like green elder,  sorrel, nettles, Japanese knotweed, Garlic mustard,  etc. They have 5 outlets so far, 2 in Byres Rd.  All a riff in invasion & how crazy fear mongering produces panic headlines - "At War with Aliens" and "Hidden Theat."  If this happens when it's only vegetation, - think what would - will - happen if it's people!
It's part of COOKING SECTIONS curated by VERBureau, 5 friends including Olga Stebleua from Moscow via Sothebys London art course. Titled 'Pokey Hat" it's based at The New Glasgow Society, along with a video, sound piece & book. The space is very empty & all pretty boring. - spart from the ice-cream!
Nicolas PARTY  has made a superb job of installing his small intense mezzotints. 
see Giles's excellent review. 

John Calcutt  & Sam Ainsley 

Downstairs Rachel Duckhouse & Bronwen Sleigh. 
In October 2014 these 2 printmakers went to Quebec City for an exchange exhibition between Glasgow Print Studio and Engramme
While there they  travelled through Labrador to Newfoundland funded by the Bet Low Trust. "WE hardly knew each other, but now we are close friends. The trip also helped our work enormously. We have learnt from each other!" 


This Canadian landscape informs their work. I have long been a fan & am delighted to see such rigorous printmaking. top Duckhouse, bottom Sleigh. 

Also on show at GPS work by Andreas Behn-Eschenburg 
Meanwhile back in NEW YORK CITY at the Rockefeller Centre ...
This new extravaganza from the Public Art Fund, is located right on 5th Avenue opposite Saks & St Patricks. Unveiled today, it's no match for St Patricks Cathedral. Even sightseers/tourists/regulars were focused on the newly cleaned cathedral rather than -
ELMGREEN & DRAGSET's  full scale UPRIGHT GARDEN SWIMMING POOL SCULPTURE complete with diving board & ladder.  Titled "Van Gogh's ear" it aims for a playful Surreal Duchampian effect. Not sure it succeeds. 
Next time - CORNELIA PARKER - public art installation on the roof of the MET & TRAMWAY and more GI in Glasgow .....

to  be continued

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