Festival Visual Art
New exhibition space warmed up by a fine group show me
Having made their debut last Festival with a show at West Barns Studios, Polarcap return to East Lothian for this debut exhibition at Eskmills’ new gallery. Although the exposed roof beams give the impression that the gallery itself hasn’t actually been finished yet, it should prove to be a great space when it is.
The resulting group exhibition isn’t spoiled, however, although the curators’ taste for abstraction might foil it a little. Graeme Todd’s varnished acrylic paintings bear hidden reference to man’s ﬁrst landing upon the moon, but they’re impenetrable and aesthetically less than appealing when viewed without this knowledge. Similarly, Kevin Henderson’s neon ‘The Forest of Pretty Things' and Sam Keller’s video ‘Deeper Depression’, in which the artist waits for a flatbread with a smiley-face design to be cooked, are thematically slight.
Yet the majority of works are exciting. Michael Windle’s ‘Quartets’ - four old moving images layered over each other on a quartet of television screens - forms a kind of catalogue of dead modernity, while Gareth Fisher’s sculptures in tarnished bronze and plaster bear up to close formal scrutiny. Meanwhile, Trine Pederson’s paintings and sculptures (pictured) help to redress the balance of Polarcap’s faith in abstraction. The paintings in particular suggest at a variety of different objects, shapes and weights within them, but no one element is readily identiﬁable, forming a grand and unsolvable visual puzzle.
Across further collage and installation pieces, and a loaned work by Ian Hamilton Finlay, Eskimo proves itself to be a journey out of Edinburgh well spent. (David Pollock) I The Gallery at Eskmi/Is, Musse/burgh, 273 4339, until Sun 37 Aug, Wed-Sun noon-5pm, free.
BIG THINGS ON THE BEACH: GARDEN GALLERY Public art, right on your doorstep one
As far as public art initiatives go. it doesn't get much more DIY or community- focused than this. Twenty-nine separate works. most of which are hosted in the front gardens of Portobello houses. and all of them part of a scenic walking tour of the waterfront (a map is available to download at www.bigthingsonthebeach.org.uk). But of course. the exciting, treasure-hunt nature of the venture is no guarantee that what is to be found is worth the search.
The work on display varies in quality wildly. although the consideration that has been given to the environmental nature of each usually means that every new piece forms a talking point. at least. Curated by Amber Roome. formerly the owner of the self-named gallery in Edinburgh's New Town, there is at least the assurance that each piece has been vetted to make sure it isn't. well, rubbish.
Jessica Harrison's ‘Floral Displays' (pictured. Look closely!). for example. have surely been hosted by a family with a black sense of humour. The artist has camouflaged her own ‘tlower arrangements' thr0ughout the garden. but they bear Synthetic fingers for petals and eyeballs at the heart of the flower. Lorna Fraser's ‘Whitehouse'. a greenhouse filled with ghostly plaster plants, is similarly sinister. an aesthetic thrill if not an intellectual one.
There are the remains of performance pieces which are now over. environmental installations by Emma Herman-Smith and Amy Copeman on the shorefront and pieces in all media strewn through the gardens. And there's a good walk to get to them. which might be the main motivation for many viewers. (David Pollock)
I Big Things on the Beach, Portobe/lo, 669 8275, until Sat 30 Aug, free.
72 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 14—21 Aug 2008
SANFORD WURMFELD: E-CYCLORAMA Rainbow in the round .00.
New York based artist Wurmlield's new creation is a sight to behold. He channels the colour theories of the great Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell by way of Goethe. the Scottish Enlightenment (there is a reason this work is being premiered in the Scottish capital) and artist Robert Barker's 1788 Circular panoramas of Edinburgh from the top of Calton Hill to startling effect.
Oval in shape and painted on the inside of a large cylinder. E-Cyc/erama is an attempt to recreate the rainbow colour spectrum on over 700sq ft of canvas. This artist's bag is finding the colour keys to palette conundrums and the emotions that co|0urs engender. When you enter this remarkable space through a steep blacked out staircase. the rainbow panorama is a jolt to the senses. A stride in the round (clockwise seems to work best) takes yOu on the colour chart continuum. These things are of cotirse SUDJCCIIVG. but genuine emotions and phySical disorientation is part of the experience. particularly when passing the vibrant yellow panels and their bleed offs.
Supported by the five more straightforward Cyc/ei'ama 2000 canvases in which Wurmfeld first experimented With this format. this is giddy and fun stuff. It's not partiCularly new: Bridget Riley (among others) developed these types of formal progressions. colour relationships and repetitive structures way back in the 1960s. Wurmfeld has just re-imaged this work in the round for the Photoshop colour template crowd. Still full marks to Wurmfeld for making the Barker connection and giving this intriguing. undeniably gimmicky exhibition a real Scottish relevance. (Paul Dale)
I ECA, 227 6089. until Fri 5 Sep. I 0am-6pm. free.