list.co.uk/festival Festival Visual Art
ANDREW RANVILLE: THERE & HERE Return to nature with the Australian artist’s two-location eco playground ●●●●●
Talking to the trees, or even taking things a base further and hugging them, may not be Andrew Ranville’s prime motivation in his eco-friendly reconstitution of natural fibres, which is on show, significantly, at either end of Leith Walk. But in this two-location exhibition, which brings to mind an adventure playground in Eden, the London-based American is attempting to whisper a language that’s both different and nostalgically familiar. In ten pieces appositely captured in the Corn Exchange’s Colgate-bright
interior, Ranville offers up a vintage skateboard and assorted ramps, a hang- down construction resembling a leftover from a boat-builder’s yard, and a portable footbridge that could have been culled from the same ACME store that sells portable holes to Looney Tunes’ cartoon hunters.
Ranville constructs his idyll even more in ‘Future Island’, a tilted square of turf in
which a weeping willow is planted, attached to an anchor that will one day perhaps lodge itself in a garden called home. ‘Future Installation’ plants three firs side-by-side on the Corn Exchange’s window-sill resembling some sci-fi future- past in a scene from Douglas Trumbull’s dewy-eyed early 1970s eco-space flick, Silent Running. The sense memories are even more evocative in the home movie footage of ‘Climb the tree to be taller than the tree’. In the great outdoors of Gayfield Square Gardens, meanwhile, normally home to sun-worshippers ejected from the street’s friendly neighbourhood cop shop, the pigeons have grown fond of Ranville’s triangular turf-covered ramp that juts upwards from the earth close to the roadside. Next to the brutalist tram-site slag- heaps, it’s a far lusher intervention. (Neil Cooper) ■ Corn Exchange Gallery, 561 7300, until 10 Sep (not Sun/Mon), free. Additional work in Gayfield Square Gardens.
KATE POLLARD: PASSING Photographer’s finer details potently explore the mourning process ●●●●●
This set of 15 C-type prints by American photographer Pollard was created in the short- and medium-term aftermath of the artist’s father’s death two years ago. The works track the reactions of her family to the news over an extended period of time. These photographs are not parts of a documentary reportage series. The majority of them appear either posed or at least controlled or manipulated by their author in some way. Still, Pollard captures some scenes whose finer details speak strongly of the mourning process. The first image, for example, features an older woman (possibly the widow?) sitting hugging a dog in what looks like a suburban back yard. The title, ‘New Deck’, draws the attention to the wood surface she’s sitting on – perhaps a hand-crafted legacy from the late father?
Pollard says her aim was to take these photographs from her father’s
‘perspective as he looks in on us’. This suggests a certain religious or supernatural connotation from the artist’s point of view, although it’s hard to tell precisely where she’s emphasising this. These are images which cry out for narration, and beyond simple one- or two-word titles, they don’t receive it. ‘Invitational 2008’ depicts an unhappy young woman (maybe the artist or a sister?) sitting by a running track, while the diptych ‘Intravenous I & II’ shows first an older woman then the dog from earlier hooked up their own IV drips. Was the track a favourite haunt of the father and his girl(s)? Did grief affect the latter pair’s health? It might be more sympathetic to the show’s purpose to identify all concerned and to place them in context.
A prominent feature of these strongly-composed pieces is their almost complete lack of male presence, most particularly in the unofficial diptych ‘Our Time’ (pictured) and ‘Sold’; the first has the young woman from the track sitting in the passenger seat of a 4x4, gazing numbly at the indented, empty driver’s seat; the second shows her gazing in the vehicle’s window at this lost haven. In this situation, the artist seems to speak not just of her own loss, but of the break-up of the nuclear family. (David Pollock) ■ Atticsalt, 225 2093, until 29 Aug (not Sun), free.
THIS IS NOW: FROM DRAWING TO CONTEXTURE Well-stocked ragbag from a new wave of textile artists ●●●●●
The first impact of this show, and the most enduring, is the overwhelming urge to touch. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the artworks are more tactile than, say, a series of oil paintings; This Is Now is a collaborative exhibition of work by former tapestry students from Edinburgh College of Art, and in addition to the polished exhibits of the main room it makes a real effort (via displays of tools, materials, and preliminary work) to bring the creative process into the art gallery. As with any collaborative exhibition, it’s a mixed bag, but there are enough
strong exhibits to give the show some thrust.
The most striking piece is Anna Ray’s ‘Structure Knot – Random Pattern’. This
looks a bit like a rag-rug made from brightly-coloured, stuffed and knotted worms, and an accompanying book shows the many different structures that these funny tubular growths have been knotted into on the way to their current rag-rug form. There’s a playfulness and an openness to the ‘Structure Knot’ which suggests that solidification in a ‘final form’ would be the death of it. Jo McDonald’s panels of knotted paper are equally fascinating, and the
transition between oil pastel and tapestry in Amanda Gizzi’s ‘Pickled Peaches’ is a fine demonstration of the possibilities of tapestry. Gizzi is the only figurative artist exhibiting, and she gives the show a bite it might otherwise have lacked. Whatever its shortcomings, the best stuff here is a long way from cross-stitch
kittens and floral borders. (Lizzie Mitchell) ■ Patriothall Gallery WASPS Studios, 220 3355, until 29 Aug, free.
13–20 Aug 2009 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 79