This is an unedited version of a profile about the British Art Show 7 in Glasgow, which appeared in The Herald arts supplement on Saturday 21 May.
PROFILE: BRITISH ART SHOW 7 IN GLASGOW
Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Art
350 Sauchiehall Street
Gallery of Modern Art
Royal Exchange Square
25 Albert Drive
May 27 - August 21
WHEN The British Art Show last came to Glasgow in 1990, the second city of the empire was going through a major cultural shift, the like of which hadn’t been experienced for a century.
The EU had declared Glasgow the European Capital of Culture and to tie in with the year-long programme of events, the third British Art Show rolled into the McLellan Galleries on Sauchiehall Street.
At the time, I was a news reporter on a Scottish Sunday tabloid and the designated Glasgow 1990 press-card holder, which allowed me access to all sorts of weird and wonderful cultural happenings.
My year kicked off in spectacular style at one of the best Hogmanays ever held in George Square when Lulu and Hue and Cry brought the heavens down.
Highlights of the year that followed included Bill Bryden’s The Ship in Harland & Wolff’s former engine shed and the opening of The Arches under Central Station, turned into an exhibition on the city's history. Then there was the free pass to see Pavarotti at the SEEC. Happy days...
I have searched my memory banks, admittedly a bit fluffy round the edges, but I can’t recall The British Art Show, which featured ‘an emerging generation of artists aged under 35’.
Looking at the list of the 42 artists who were invited to exhibit, there are some names who have lasted the course, including Rachel Whiteread, Julian Opie, Cornelia Parker and Fiona Rae. Scottish artists who were invited to take part included Matthew Dalziel, Louise Scullion (now Dalziel + Scullion) and Callum Innes.
The British Art Show has been held every five years since 1979 and the seventh one kicked off last year in Nottingham last October. It has since travelled to London and this Friday, it opens in Glasgow, where it will be seen in three very different venues – CCA, Tramway and GoMA – until late August. Its final resting place will be Plymouth, where it will run from September 17 until December 4.
This is the first time the thee participating Glasgow galleries have collaborated on the staging of a single exhibition and curators Lisa Le Feuvre and Tom Morton have responded to the contrasting natures of the three spaces; CCA’s ‘white box’ galleries, GoMA’s ornate interior and Tramway’s raw industrial space, with new juxtapositions of the works created for this third presentation of the exhibition.
This year’s theme is In the Days of the Comet, a reference to H.G. Wells’ 1906 novel of the same name, set in 1910, the year of the last but one appearance if Halley’s Comet. Chosen for its relevance in signifying change, time and recurrence, the curators say the theme ‘captures the art being made in Britain today.’ Morton adds: “The exhibition seeks to reinvent, reinvigorate and constantly question itself as it travels across the country."
Several artists with strong connections to Glasgow are represented among the 39 artists taking part in British Art Show 7 (BAS7), including Turner Prize nominee Karla Black, who this year will represent Scotland at the Venice Art Biennale as well as writer and artist, Alasdair Gray, who is the oldest exhibiting artist, at 75.
Other names include; Luke Fowler, Duncan Campbell, Michael Fullerton, Mick Peter, Sue Tompkins and Tris Vonna-Michell, who all studied at The Glasgow School of Art.
For the Glasgow presentation of the exhibition, the curators have added a number of new works. At GoMA, Oban-born Charles Avery will unveil a new, large-scale drawing Untitled (Place de la Revolution). The body and head of Brian Griffith’s large canvas bear will also be seen together for the first time.
The UK Premiere of the The Otolith Group’s Hydra Decapita and Episode 4 of Nathaniel Mellors’ Ourhouse will be seen at CCA, while Luke Fowler’s Composition for Flutter Screen will be shown at Tramway. The latest evolution of Tris Vonna-Michell’s performance will be seen at CCA and Juliette Blightman will create new work responding to GoMA. Edgar Schmitz will install work across all three spaces and, harking back to the spirit of 1990, Roger Hiorns has made a performance especially for Tramway.
Alasdair Gray, who increasingly looks (and sounds) like a peculiarly Scottish version of Old Father Time, is a master of criss-crossing the decades in his work and it wholly appropriate that his work is included in BAS7.
One of his works on show at GoMA will be Andrew Gray Aged 7 and Inge’s Patchwork Quilt, ‘drawn 1972, painted 2007’. Having heard the great man expound his views on the state of contemporary art, I can only imagine what he’ll make of it all. Fair play to the curators for including him and giving him his place.
Any room on the subs’ bench for 89-year-old Cosmic Voyager, George Wyllie? If ever a man was fascinated by time travelling, it’s the man behind the Paper Boat, which sailed into New York when the last British Art Show was showing in Glasgow.
- The story so far
- 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 email@example.com (All work © Jan Patience)