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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)

Friday, 10 June 2011

Charisma + Balls: Zaha Hadid in Conversation

A striking image of the south facade of Glasgow’s Riverside Museum by Glasgow Museums photographer Jim Dunn
I went to Kelvingrove art gallery last night to see the ballsiest woman on the world architecture stage, Zaha Hadid, in conversation with Dejan Sudjic, currently director of the Design Museum in London.
Hadid is in Glasgow for a few days prior to the opening of her latest masterpiece, The Riverside Museum - Glasgow's new transport museum, which opens to the public on June 21.
The event was organised by the Royal Glasgow Institute for the Fine Arts (RGI), which is celebrating its 150th birthday this year in style.
Prior to the main event, invited guests - the Glaswegeratti + assorted journalists, architects and squads of people invited by Hadid's office (many connected to the 2012 Olympics) gathered downstairs in the gallery currently occupied by Trish Cain's excellent  Drawing (on) Riverside exhibition.
Karin Spalter from the RGI gave a spirited welcome to the assembled guests, mentioning the contribution of George Wyllie (one of the 50 current RGIs) in bringing the world's attention back to the beleaguered River Clyde at the end of the 1980s.
George's Straw Locomotive hung from the Finnieston Crane for an entire summer in 1988 before being taken to Springburn and ceremonially burnt (once the birds' nests had been removed).
Inside the locomotive was a single question mark.
George's subtle hymn to the ghosts who inhabit the Clyde was followed up by the ever-so fragile Paper Boat in 1990, which travelled the world, from Glasgow, to London, New York, Antwerp, Dumfries, Ayr and Fife, before being broken up in Inverkeithing in 1996.
His poetic transportations have now been followed up by Hadid'd giant 'shed', as she described it last night.
Inside, The Riverside Museum is like one of the sheds which once housed the giant ships which were routinely constructed by 1000s of men. There are no pillars or obvious means of support - that's all underneath the 'shell' Its zig-zag lines can be interpreted in so many ways. There's the zig-zags of the cranes outside, or the zig-zags of factory roofs - or the zig-zag of mountain ranges in the (very far) distance.
I had managed to bag myself a good seat on the second row to hear Hadid talk to Sudjic which was just as well as had I been at the back, I might not have got much of the conversation, as the acoustics in the main hall of Kelvingrove don't lend themselves to this type of occasion.
In the background, some fantastic pics of the Riverside (mostly taken, I think, by Glasgow Museum's award-winning photographer Jim Dunn) flashed onto the screen behind the pair, alongside shots of Hadid's other landmark buildings, including the new London Aquatics Centre (being built for the 2012 Olympics), the Guangshou Opera House, the Evelyn Grace Academy in London and the Maxxi Museum of XXI Arts in Rome.
They were, frankly, hypnotic.
What Hadid had to say was interesting to an extent, and she's got bundles of charisma, so it was just good to hear her talk.
I felt she could have been quizzed more on the machinations behind the Riverside. Her thought processes, the build, the final product...
Carol Smillie, a trustee of the Riverside and with the clearest diction this side of Hadrian's Wall, introduced the event and I reckon she'd have been better suited to the job.
It was a bit of an architects' day out, with Sudjic quizzing her about her days at the AA (Architectural Institute in London) and the ins and outs of how she built up her practice. Names such as 'Frank' and 'Rolf' were dropped into the conversation without a by-your-leave.
Erm, hello, not everyone in the building knows who we're talking about here...
There were a few great quotes from Hadid, such as "Fear is something you can't afford" and "I criticise all the time. No-one likes it but it's part of my nature."
On the way out, the man next to me (who turned out to be Shaun Dawson, Chief Exec of Lee Park Valley - a key player in the bid process for the 2012 Olympics) asked me what I thought.
"I enjoyed it," I replied. "She's got charisma."
"She's got balls too," he said, before adding that he didn't think her Aquatics Centre was her finest building.
I'm a coward, but tell you what... I would not be telling Ms Hadid that.
An interesting night all round. "You must be very proud of your new building," said my new best friend for the night, Renata Gatti, an Italian architect who also writes for a leading Italian architecture journal.
Do you know something? I am.

Zaha Hadid is leaving the building (with Dejan Sudjic)

RIP George Wyllie's Paper Boat. Gone but not forgotten

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