necessary on the contemporary British

This issue, The List invited Edinburgh and Glasgow curators and exhibition organisers to write about the exhibition 01 their choice.

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Glasgow Arts Centre.

‘Necessity is the mother at invention’. It there is any substance to that cliche then photomontage seems a good case in point. In 1919/20 a number oi young disaitected German artists lormed themselves into a group dedicated to mocking and provoking ‘the prevailing social order‘ which had brought about the horrilic catastrophy oi the First World War and was already begining to rush headlong into the next. Amongst this group at Berlin Dadaists was the communist John Hearttield, who had anglitied his name as a gesture oi contempt ior German militant nationalism. So it he could invent a new name why not a new visual technique which would satisfy ‘our aversion at playing the artist, and thinking 01 ourselves as engineers‘ ‘Monteur (mechanic) Heartiield‘ and photomontage were born. From 1920 until 1938 he dedicated his revolutionary artistic invention to attacking iirst the social injustices and political duplicity ol the Weimar Bepublic and later, with even greater savagery, Hitler and his capitalist backers, who supplied the real ‘millions‘ behind National Socialism.

The Maytest exhibition oi Heartiield's photomontages demonstrate, contrary to received opinion, that art and politics can work eiiectively together. By cutting, tailoring, re-arranging and adding to news photographs oi contemporary events such as Nazi rallies, Jew baiting or the burning oi the Beichstag, Heartiield could lay bare the true political reality behind propaganda images— almost literally so in one oi his masterpieces oi Hitler exposed under X-ray photography as ‘Adoll the Superman Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk‘ 1932. Such was the power oi Heartiield‘s vicious satires that even after he lied to Prague when the Nazis came to power, they continued to try to silence this threat to their ruthless authority.

Despite the passage oi time and the topicality oi the subject John Hearttield‘s photomontages still have a raw critical energy to engage our attention. Let‘s hope that some young artist can be inspired by this exhibition - such a iorce as Hearttield is now very

political scene. (Bill Hare, Curator, Talbot Bice Gallery, Edinburgh)


4th Floor, Mitchell Library, Glasgow. One oi the greatest ditlerences between the Edinburgh Festival and Glasgow‘s Maytest is that the latter, whilst ottering a line array oi Visual Arts exhibitions, seems to retain a rather ambivalent attitude towards contemporary craits.

It was thereiore a reliei to discover ‘Contemporary Glasgow Ceramics‘ at the Mitchell Library (until 17 June), in spite oi its mysterious listing alongside the People‘s Palace ‘A Stitch in Time‘, inthe ‘Community Diary‘.

This lively and exploratory range oi material and glazes by twelve ceramic

artists reiterates an increasing and active departure irom the traditional approach without losing sight at the traditional skills and dispels the popular misconception which equates pottery with lumpy green teapots and heavyweight platters.

Ian Bamsay's ‘Lady and Gent on Horseback‘ are immediately humorous and yet the sensitive modelling oi the middle-aged couples overweight nudity and the animals‘ strained contortions as they bear their weight, evokes a sense oi quiet dignity.

Andrew Adair also uses the thrown pot as his starting point to produce a series at ‘Talking Heads‘ with mouths animated in song and conversation.

Figurative sculpture is present too, in Colin Walker‘s cloaked bottles and Lynn Clarke’s carved and modelled Ilying horses and pigeons.

Clockmaker and ceramicist Paul Ewing draws inspiration irom Glasgow‘s Victorian Necropolis to produce tomb-like clocks and candleholders; applying chemically aged copper sheets to create an authentic blue-green patina.

Other innovative uses at glazes include those concocted by James Holden irom the unlikely source oi his back garden near East Kilbride.

In contrast, Irene Hall‘s large vases and bowls iorm ideal surtaces tor simple, highly stylized designs, painted in the round.

Let‘s hope that more venues will iollow the example at David Feckleton atthe Mitchell and open their doors to Contemporary Crait. Who knows, there

Maytest. (Laura Hamilton, Director, Collins Gallery, Glasgow)


163rd BSA Annual Exhibition— Sculpture, Edinburgh.

l have grown accustomed to expecting a reaction to art exhibitions—to leave ieeling stimulated, disturbed, challenged, excited or even disappointed. But the predictability oi the BSA leaves me quite neutral with no questions to ask at the art but rather what is the iunction at such an institution today.

II it sets out to reilect the contemporary art scene in Scotland and in some way challenge its audience then, without a doubt it iails. Every year there is a ieeling oi deja vu, indicating that the same type oi sculpture is selected (or perhaps submitted). Dr is it that the academicians with theirguaranteed right to exhibit year after year dominate (who elects the academicians?) For those exhibiting who are not yet BSA or even ABSA, it looks to be only a matter 01 years. To answer my own question as to why the diversity and energy oi the new sculpture is not represented, may I suggest that new opportunities have been demanded and created, rendering the establishment showcase extraneous.

Ii however the BSA acknowledges its existence within a vacuum contributing

Screenprint by Alastair Mack

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might even be a craft tent in next year’s

.. .; :%‘::~*:ssw: " Timor Mortis by David McClure little to the Scottish dialogue and agrees that it is relatively sell-indulgent catering tor an audience oi conservative/populist taste, then it periorms an excellent task. lam thereiore in the wrong to expect more. Another matter to be reconsidered is

' the ironic and disquieting power oi

blandness on mass. Perhaps I should contemplate the thoughts oi John Cage when he said that nothing was boring but should you lind something so spend time with it until you discover its point oi interest. (Moira lnnes, sculptor and education oiiicer at the Fruitmarket Gallery).


Alastair Mack, Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh.

The celebratory quality at Alastair Mack’s new screenprints is immediately apparent, and his characteristic play with strong blocks ol colour balanced against more broken iorms make this a stimulating and enjoyable show. But those who categorise Mack's screenprints as straightlorward essays in abstraction should beware: potent and—tor me oiten disturbing elements start to break through the suriace just as you begin to relax into the lluency oi each image. Vertebrae, bomb/zeppelin, man/rabbit, ram's head, elemental symbols lie camoullaged in these stage sets. In the more complex pieces such as ‘Human Story‘ there is a real sense oldrama uncurling.

Some oi the small single-colour images are less successiul (perhaps because less ambitious) but the simple economy at ‘Mask’ (I counted iive colours), with its pure ilat iorms occasionally touching and interiering, works well. The artist has produced two small suites oi prints in iolio iorm which is an apt vehicle lor his images. ‘4 Play‘ is a thematic exploration ol iorm and colour arrangement imaginatively arranged on iolded cards; ‘Lite Signs‘ develops a new vocabulary oi marks more akin to woodcuts. These iolios are successiul chamber works which will hopelully lead to more. (Bobert Adam, Director, Printmakers Workshop, Edinburgh)

The List 19 May— 1 June 198959