teacher at the Glasgow School of Art, sees Scotland as being ‘on the map‘ in a way it hasn‘t been since the turn ofthe century. She feels that the controversial Tony Jones, President ofthe School ofthe Art lnsitute in Chicago adopted a ‘very up-front‘ and international presence in the art world. Mark Francis. director of Edinburgh‘s Fruitmarket Gallery expects the London-based focus of art to disintegrate over the next few years as the Tate of the North in Liverpool and new developments in Derry set a trend for innovative work elsewhere. He thinks also ‘nothing much was happening in centres of culture like New York for a decade,
Two Humeians Preacing Causality to Nabire. 1984, by Steven Campbell.
Left: Three Figures. June Beltem, Her strong handling oi paint is in tune with the Edinburgh tradition. Right: The Apprentices, 1986, by Ken Currie. Avery accomplished draughtsman, Currie here uses tightly planned composition in shallow space. Below: Field Mouse, by Peter Howson. Another line draughtsman whose work is often narrative. Below right: Fortunatus by John Bellany, arguablythe major figure in contemporary Scottish painting.
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so more attention was forced on Europe generally.‘ At the same time Andrew Nairne, Exhibitions Officers ofthe Third Eye Centre in Glasgow, emphasises that it is not just in Scotland but all over the country that a number of new up-and-coming young artists are emerging. Artist and editor ofAlba Peter Hill, suggests ‘what is needed more than anything is a competition on the scale of the John Moores in Liverpool open to the whole of Britain (or Europe)‘ with ample prize money to attract the media and repay sponsors.
Sam Ainsley is aware of a much more ambitious attitude amongst students now and an increasing percentage of women. Approxiamtely 70% of those at art schools in Scotland are female (compared with 50% elsewhere in Britain) although Ainsley herself is one ofonly two women who are full-time members of staff in a department totalling about thirty. When Clare Henry and Keith Hartley chose candidates for the Artists at Work event last year, their first draft of 50 names comprised 92% painters, all of whom were men, although their final choice included three female sculptors.
In Gareth Fisher, who had his first major exhibition at the Fruitmarket
Gallery last year, Dundee is recognised as having a fine teacher of sculpture. ‘In some ways Dundee is more interesting than Glasgow and Edinburgh ‘says Keith Hartley. ‘lts getting very experimental‘ with both the video and photographic departments making an impact. Amongst painters part of the assertive confidence comes from an ease with their medium. If there is one aspect ofthe Scottish tradition where the debt of the younger generation appears strongest, it is in the actual handling ofpaint and the painterly values ofoil seem well-suited to the Scottish temperament. The seminal influence of the Colourists (Fergusson, Cadell. Hunter and Peploe) the turn-of—the-century group who were themselves inspired by Matisse and
the Fauves, is still much in evidence. Keith Hartley observes, this strong handling of paint is still there ‘often pushed it till it becomes expressive of emotion. John Bellany‘s work is ‘recognisably Edinburgh‘ in this way and he feels Joan Redfern shows a similar ability. Andrew Brown agrees ‘She paints in a marvellous, virutoso and bravura way‘ while Graham Durward similarly employs ‘very bold and free r’nanner‘. Some see this as the influence of the somewhat self-contained traditions
of Edinburgh College of Art.
Glasgow on the other hand brings in many new people and influences and Hartley recognises a much more earthy, much grittier‘ style there. This is seen perhaps in Peter Howson‘s drawings ofbody-building thugs, where the image is closely cropped, bulging within the frame.
Like Ken Currie. the Aberdeen-based artist Joyce Cairns uses steeply-raked. shallow spaces which are common to German Expressionism. Brown recognises the Glasgow style as being ‘vcry narrative, illustrative and (iermanic‘ though for him, looking to one‘s own tradition should always have a higher priority. ‘I don‘t believe in this post-modern idea that you can just pick and choose from any culture you like.‘
The city of Edinburgh was put in a unique position when Jean Watson gifted a trust fund to the corporation in the 19605. It makes available approximately £20.000-25.(li)il annually to be spent on the visual arts. According to Councillor George Kerevan. the Labour Council now has a policy for the first time, and is supportiver and systematically extending its unique position as both patron and buyer. As new work comes up here at least is one guaranteed collector.
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The List (i — 1‘) March 9