Ron O‘Donnell was working nights in a Iambing shed. David Mach had gone a bit deaf from making a sculpture underwater in Amsterdam and was desperate for a smoke at the Gallery of Modern Art — he‘s not one for the rules of the institution. Sam Ainsley was feeling the discomfort of British Rail‘s Glasgow to Edinburgh service and was restless to fix her eyelets. All three had a deadline to meet — The Vigorous Imagination — New Scottish Art could not wait.
The press seemed to have it all up front. The exhibition which puts a group of Scottish contemporary artists into the Festival for the very first time made contact with print long before it opened. But while the features hit you in The Face and glossy Interiors. imaginations were still hard at work. Paintings by Steven Campbell. Adrian Wisniewski. Peter Howson lay against the walls in trial positioning. But for David Mach. sculptor. Ron O‘Donnell. photographer and Sam Ainslie. sculptor/muralist. that last week before the opening was oozing adrenalin.
Ron‘s shed in the Pentlands was full of mice. They rustled happily in the straw as he wrestled with a prop in a set he was building. Still in its initial stages, he would be working several nights (his job as a university photographer keeps him in a darkroom during the day) before it was ready to photograph.
Often solitary. but retiring O‘Donnell is not. Nor are his photographs. One of his latest. La Dolce Vita was commissioned for a bar in Japan designed by London-based Nigel Coates. where a travelling chandelier on rails and a full-size aeroplane wing with jets were just two of the other attractions. It was printed up to a larger than life 10ft x 6ft.
His second ever giant will be made in time for the Festival opening. And the installation (Ron laughs at that ‘good gallery word‘) it records can be seen in the gymnasium to the back ofthe Gallery of Modern Art. Like much of O‘Donnell‘s work. The North/South Divide pours humour over big subjects. in this case poverty and consumer afﬂuence. A ‘spoof’ he calls it. A spoof it is. An HP Sauce bottle pinpoints London on the carpet and the split between the two rooms. one peeling and sooty, the other Habitat and TV dinners, follows the eastern coastline of the country.
David Mach hates working on his own. He likes the music on. the chat fast and people milling. It was not possible. as he would have preferred. to let the public in while he made his A valanche upstairs in the gallery’s long room. What with that and his deafear he was feeling a little cutoff. However. his five assistants from Edinburgh College of Art were layering the waves of newspapers and magazines to instuction and
selection made by Andrew
EW ART SCOTLAND
Alice Bain hunts out the artists making controversial waves in the Scottish Art scene. three inches of a ten-foot high sculpture were in place.
Mach’s work is as throw-away as the stuff it is made of. When the exhibition comes down the A valanche is not packed away for another review but broken up for good. Mach himself. not his art. is the commodity. For a fee. usually with his own ‘hit-squad‘. he‘ll take a plane. scream up in a van. order up tons of paper or thousands of tyres and make a piece. In Barcelona recently 41 tons of magazine went into a single work and he‘s off to Vienna next as soon as he finishes here. ‘lt‘s
like a band on the run‘ he says. ‘The speed‘s really
good — gets you closer to the energy. ideas. people and space.‘
To catch Sam Ainsley last week meant a very early phone call and even then she was just on her way out. For some weeks she and two assistants have been working on the massive banner. sewn and painted and hung on huge eyelets to stretch across the outside ofthe gallery. Though many women artists are working successfully in Scotland right now. she is one ofonly two women selected for this l7-person show.
Reaping the Whirlwind in Sam‘s symbolic female red and male blue incorporates trompe l'oeil columns and a thirty foot high woman holding the world. Branches supporting the globe touch wounded spots — South America.
Details lrom (lelt) Ken Currie's ‘Woman From
Drumchapel'; (right) lion
O'Donnell's ‘Four Minute
Chernobyl and South Africa. The message is clear.
From the start ofplanning the exhibition, Sam’s political conscience almost persuaded her to pull out of the show in protest against Shell‘s continuing presence in South Africa. Shell are the main sponsors for the exhibition which could not have been mounted without that level of assistance. A meeting with the multi-national ended amicably and she and the other artists worried about the implications oftheir involvement agreed to differ with the company. She says. ‘They are very anti-aparthied. but think they can do more in South Africa by staying there. I feel the government there still sees that as support.‘
Political comment aside. Ainsley‘s banner and stairway wall sculpture states before you set foot into the galleries. that imagination and energy awaits. In the words of David Mach. ‘Some people say brill. brill and others want to punch you in the face‘. The Vigorous Imagination is bound to cause reaction.
Scottish contemporary art has become quite a theme this year and the Fringe is bulging with exhibitions ofit. The Wine Emporium sells three hundred works amongst the wine and at The Pleasance a selection ofwork is described as ‘collectable‘. The artist-run Collective Gallery mounts members‘ exhibitions in their High Street space and at the Edinburgh College ofA rt. a venue fairly packed with Scottish artists‘ exhibitions. Scottish work also appears at the Printemakers Workshop. The Edge. The Scottish Gallery. Malsolm Innes. the new Kingfisher Gallery. the Scottish Artists’ Shop. the Saltire Gallery and the Backroom Gallery. See Art Listings for details ofthese and other Fringe and Festival exhibitions. Alice Bain
. s. f._
CONTINUING THE TRADITION 369 Gallery
At 369 Gallery, in theirnew and surprisingly light and
Brown the gallery director and Victoria Keller speaks lor only a small proportion of the century. The exhibition simply otters the
opportunity to view those 898m“ "'3' "00' artists ot the present who llalloriomheinauoural exhlbitunderthe 369 exhibition attempts a close banner bulge a law olllle examination of the young pm gm. 3 in older and "I!" 900% contemporaries like John
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Cellius 3'20".“ WNW, One large painting and leaves the lield otselection one man by each ofthe wide open and its sub-title Manly mm: included is Continuing the Tradition is in. 10mm, one lhal gulls no less all-embracing. It m gall." “u with in 800"!“ "It! 8 Grand. three large and two small
‘Homage to the Earth SpiriETy'Alan Davie.
classic Peploe incorporates all his favourite still lite objects-troll. llowers and
equally decorative, paintsa bare-breasted woman against exotic carpets. ln
academic exhibition. ln tact with eighty-seven years at art to choose lrorn. the linal
rooms (dimly-lit Ior watercolours). The Scottish Colourists come tirst. A
a Japanese ligure. The lady in Cadell is swept up in red and black and Fergusson,
theirtime, French lessons in colour were de riguer. Joan Eardley, who
The younger artists. still developing and exploring their own interests, take up the tradition at painting as it has existed in Scotland this century in its ditlerent lonns
tragically died in 1963 in her prime, painted Summer 5 Sea gutsy with the textures olair, sand and sea. Paint is her medium. but with it
she models more thanjust
‘palnterly slrokes', She and speak with their own creates ozone and waves. '0‘“. The small John Maxwell Hock-Ann Teh brine:
Red Ballet tells a love story Chinese calllllraphvto his
33 mm. 33 Adam and Eye. canvas. David Cook and Ian Narrative painting clearly “"9"” “Press in WC". [arfmm using swept away brilliant 0" and Fiona
by the complexity at modern Cams"! 0003 '0'
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the work ol artists like John W “‘ “um” "‘9
dilterences and individuals in Scottish painting and not look tor history too soon. It may be a shackle to the future. (Alice Bain)
Bellany. His emu here was the result at waking up in Australia with one at his window. he thought he was hallucinating.
The List 7 — 20 August 49