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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)

Monday, 19 March 2012

The all-new Glasgow Art Show

This is an unedited version of a piece that appeared in The Herald Arts section on March 17

Glasgow Art Show
Grand Ballroom, Thistle Glasgow, Cambridge Street, Glasgow
11am-6pm daily.
Tickets £6/£4 concession
March 23-25
Ask any private art gallery owner or artist for an opinion on the demise of the old Glasgow Art Fair in the city’s George Square and you will be regaled with a blizzard of differing views. Art fairs, just like art itself, has a habit of dividing opinion.
The old Glasgow Art Fair ran for 15 consecutive years from 1996 to 2010 in a temporary tented village over a four days weekend in springtime. Funded to the tune of £80,000 by Glasgow City Council, it was initially started up in a wave of Glasgow’s post City of Culture optimism, with the aim of providing a showcase for home grown talent to be shown alongside work from outside Scotland.

Hope Street by Sue Biazotti (12" x 18" in)
at Glasgow Art Show with Cameron Contemporary Art

One of the biggest art fairs in the UK outside of London, it was cancelled in 2011, and replaced by an event called Vault in The Briggait, Glasgow. This event received £20,000 worth of funding from Glasgow City Council, augmented by £20,000 from Creative Scotland’s Own Art scheme. While it was more ‘cutting-edge’ than the old Art Fair, it didn’t feel to me, at any rate, to be so inclusive. 
Part of the appeal of the old art fair was its location in the heart of the city, but it was also easy to walk in and browse, in a way which people perhaps felt intimidated to do in a regular private gallery setting.
Watching from the sidelines on all this activity was Andy Naismith and his business partner Andy McDougall, who with their company Arte in Europa had been organising art fairs and art-related events across Europe for a decade.
They are also the duo behind the Edinburgh Art Fair, an annual fixture at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange since 2005.
To ‘the two Andys’, as they are known to the galleries around Europe who exhibit at their events, the lack of a commercial art fair in Glasgow presented a major opportunity. The pair submitted an unsuccessful tender to Glasgow City Council in late 2010 to mount the event which eventually became Vault, but according to Naismith, the research they did for that proved invaluable.
“We looked into it in great detail in our tender for a replacement fair and we already knew that the Grand Ballroom at The Thistle hotel in Glasgow was perfect in terms of its size and dimension.
“We decided we would set up our own art fair and this time last year, we started selling space. Within a couple of months we had sold out. There was room for 41 galleries and we handpicked them from galleries we’d worked with in the past so that there would be a wide range of original work from £75 to £60,000. It’s a broad mix.”
This is not a beauty contest of Scottish galleries. Of the 41 galleries taking part in this inaugural Glasgow Art Show, only 14 are based in Scotland and long-established galleries such as the Glasgow-based Compass Gallery and the Edinburgh-based Open Eye Gallery and Scottish Gallery are notable by their absence.
Naismith does not feel this puts the fair at a disadvantage. “Glasgow is a culturally diverse city and people are very open to see and buy original art. I think it’ll be very different to the Edinburgh Art Fair because we have 65 galleries exhibiting there, and only 41 in Glasgow. The city centre venue will give it a different clientele too.
“We have been able to cherry-pick more with this fair, which has been fun – but at the same time more challenging.”
Headline grabbing acts heading for the show include Guy Portelli, the former BBC special effects artist who appeared on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den programme in 2008 and secured backing for his Pop icon collection and body cast sculptor, Louise Giblin. Giblin’s body cast sculptures of Olympic hopeful, Beth Tweddle MBE, and double-Olympic gold winner Dame Kelly Holmes form part of her Olympians series. Both artists are appearing with the East Sussex-based Saffron Gallery. 

Olympian Series II Beth Tweddle back view by Louise Giblin on show with the Saffron Gallery

Closer to home, Peter Howson has produced a large scale oil painting depicting a mother and child, especially for the show. He is exhibiting with Glasgow-based Art Exposure.
Argyll-based Tighnabruaich Gallery is bringing a strong portfolio of original artwork, including paintings by Glasgow and Tighnabruaich-based Heather Nevay, who has just had a near sell-out show in leading Miami gallery 101/exhibit gallery.
Nevay’s work, which sell for four figure sums and feature Renaissance style pre-adolescent children involved in elaborate reanecatments of adult life, were a big draw at the old Glasgow Art Fair.

Belovd by Heather Nevay. On show
with the Tighnabruaich Gallery at
Glasgow Art Show
Penny Graham-Weall said of the new show: “We know the two Andys from the Edinburgh Art Fair and like the way they operate.
“It’s great for a gallery in a rural location such as ours to be able to show the work of our artists at an event such as this. We’re also showing the work of Milngavie-based Gordon Wilson. He has been developing a real fan base of late. Another interesting addition to our stable is Northumberland-based watercolour artist called MJ Forster. His work has never been seen in Scotland before.
“It’s vitally important for galleries like ours to be able to bring our artists to a bigger audience.”

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