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I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Sunday, 9 May 2010

8-5-10 The Herald Arts Supplement Gallery Round-up

Clockwise from left, Diane Arbus, Artist Room's exhibition at Dean Gallery, Edinburgh, Jenny Matthew's 'Burung Jawas' and a still from Fiona Tan's Tomorrow

The Fiona Tan review didn't appear in yesterday's paper, probably because of pressure of space. I popped in to see it one day when I was in Glasgow for a meeting and it slowed me down in my tracks. It sits really well in the vast ground floor gallery of the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art (GoMA). More is very definitely less in Tan's work.


Gallery of Modern Art
Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow
0141 287 3050
Mon, Wed & Sat, 10am-8pm, Thur, 10am-8pm, Fri & Sun, 11am
Until Sep 27

The first time Fiona Tan’s work was shown in Scotland was as part of the recent What You See Is Where You’re At rehang at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Contemporary artist and film-maker, Tan, who represented Holland at the Venice Biennale last year, has earned a growing international reputation for her portraiture-based work which is caught nebulously between the fixed and the moving image.
Downside Up depicts a public square in full sunlight and the people walking across it. So far, so simple, but by turning the film upside down, Tan tricks the eye into thinking the shadows are figures, and the people shadows. It is a powerful piece of work and one which blazes a trail for the Amsterdam-based artist in this country to those unfamiliar with her film-based art.
As part of Glasgow International (GI), Tan’s 2005 film Tomorrow has been showing in Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art for the last few weeks and will remain in the main hall on the ground floor for the next four months.
Less is definitely more in this installation, which consists of one large screen showing close ups in semi-slow motion of a group of youngsters in a line and a small screen in front of it, which runs a zoomed-out shot of the same set of teenagers – all pupils at a multi-racial school in Stockholm.
The fact that you enter into a vast darkened gallery space to be faced with two slow panning films of a group of youngsters gazing expectantly at the camera triggers off a host of emotions, no matter which age group you fall into.
In all the faces, there is a mix of hope, expectation, fear, curiosity, laughter, puzzlement and joy. Reading the faces of those young people on the cusp of adulthood is a tale of everyman and everywoman, no matter what age you happen to be.
Escape from the madding crowds on Buchanan Street and take a moment to reflect over this affecting piece of work.

Union Gallery
45 Broughton Street, Edinburgh
0131 556 7707
Tues-Sat, 10.30am-6pm, Sun, 12pm-6pm
Until June 3

The buzzy little Union Gallery in Edinburgh’s Broughton Street has just unveiled an exhibition by the sought-after Scottish watercolourist Jenny Matthew, whose minutely observed flower paintings set against a intuitively atmospheric background are little nuggets of visual poetry.
Matthews trained under Dame Elizabeth Blackadder at Edinburgh College of Art, where she received the Edinburgh College of Art Prize for Watercolour in 1986.
Many characteristics of her work can be traced back to the four years she spent in Indonesia, be it the colour green, abstracted squares representing rice paddies from the air, or an interest in tropical flora. One of the centre pieces of this forthcoming exhibition will be Burung Jawa, which draws on those influences, and features some of the Edinburgh-based artist’s collection of Indonesian fabrics.
Alison Auldjo of the Union Gallery comments: “‘This is an exhibition of astounding beauty; full of colour, vibrancy and style. To see so many of Jenny’s flower paintings in one space is both a rare opportunity and a highly pleasurable experience. Jenny has been working on this exhibition for 12 months, and the result is truly remarkable.”
Matthews explains: ‘I have a passion to seek out flowers wherever I go and I endeavour to recreate my wonder at the creation around us through my work.’

Dean Gallery
Belford Road, Edinburgh
0131 624 6200
Open daily, 10am-5pm
Until June 13

If you haven’t managed to see the fantastically unsettling Diane Arbus exhibition at the Dean Gallery in Edinburgh yet, then pencil in some time to do so before it closes next month.
Part of the 2010 Artists’ Rooms exhibitions, the collection of around 70 black-and-white photographs, span the New York-born artist’s career from the mid-1950s until her untimely death by her own hand in 1971.
The Arbus exhibition takes up a good amount of space on the upper level of the Dean Gallery, and is complimented by a display of work on the ground floor by John Davies, Douglas Gordon, Martin Boyce and Robert Colquhoun built around the ability of masks to conceal or create identities.
Arbus skirted around the fringes of society in her work, developing an unerring honesty via her lens, because she knew the truth was out there. Her most celebrated photograph is probably the iconic Identical twins, Roselle , N.J. 1967, which is featured here, but this collection of her work features a wide range of images. The beauty – and the pain – of this exhibition is that far too many leap off the wall and into your subconscious, where they linger for days.
One of the most haunting is an early self-portrait, taken when she was pregnant with her first child in 1945. The accompanying description tells the viewer that she took the photograph for her husband Allan Arbus, then serving as a photographer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
Arbus is now widely regarded as one of the most significant photographers of the 20th century and walking through this exhibition, you can see why she deserves that label.

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