Alan Woods examines tlte ‘open exhihition‘ as tlte 3rd Stttitlt Biennial kicks off. while Sara \'illiers y‘isits

Springhui-n . Rey‘iews oy'erleal‘.


Opento question

As the 3rd Smith Biennial 8‘) in Stirling gives away its thousands in prize money this week. it is perhaps timely to take stock ofthe open show phenomenon which is sweeping into galleries with its built-in attractions to sponsors and needy artists alike.

'l‘he success of an open exhihition depends on a nurttherol‘l’actors: the quality ol‘the artists entering. the quality and integrityol‘the selectors. and the quality ol‘its administration. It. forms are oy‘er—complicated or less than easily ay'ailahle. it the puhlicity l‘ails to generate interest amongst working artists (rather than the Sunday painters who might he tempted irtto trying their luck ) well itt advance of the suhrttission date. then the prohlettts may he ittsurrttotttttahle well in advance ol‘selection. 'l‘he risk of rejection may discourage ntore estahlislted artists. whose works

would he included itt arty representatiy'e survey of

art itt Scotlattd. attd whose names would add prestige to the linal exhihition. For this stature ol' artist. entering a competition itt which a student might he chosen. could represertt career entharassment. though such reluctance to compete does not prey'ent such artists from complaining ahottt a lack olsuhstattce when they yisit the show.

The process of mounting art open show is as susceptihle to ahuse as any human activity this kind ol‘exhihition should offer the hest chance ol work arriy'ing out of nowhere and presenting a lively and spontaneous show olthe state of art. But the French Salons artd l.ondon Royal Academy exhihitions‘. models for any system of open suhmission l‘ollowed hy' selection. hecame notorious for suppressing all that was y'ital in contemporary art. lrtdeed it is only recently that major [inglish artists hay'e heen attracted to the Royal Academy shows. In Soctland. the unselected student show at the Scottish Royal Academy~ which entitles students to show work within certain restrictions ot‘seale rs continues to he tnore exciting attd eye-opening than the Academy‘s own very cstahlishment summer exhihition. lronics ahound— a practisingartist

may haye his or her work rejected hy' one panel ol~

judges whilst sitting in judgement as part ol’ another.

()ntcns lor tlte third Smith Biennial look good. lessons hay‘e heett learned lront the l7ruitmarket ()pen attd ll'ttttt the lirst two Stirling shows. liltere is a ttew policy ol’ using selectors ltased itt Scotland. rather tltan hig name linglish critics ttnahle to spend sulticient tttne itt Scotland to do theirjoh properly or eyen to attettd the opening. 'l‘his year the lresh triuntyarate ol sculptor ( iaretlt l isher. \icltola \Vhite ol (ilasgow 's 'l‘hird lxy e and l_inda ( iraltam ol lidinhurgh‘s ( 'ollectiy'e ( iallery hay'e chosen the work. heginning hy agreeing to show tttore pieces hy l‘ew'erartists. l‘ornterly hetween lorty and l'ilty artists were chosen. lrom a storehouse lull 'l his year a short list chosen ltom slides led to a concentrated programme ol studio y isits. lront which twertty artists were chosen.

l'he show promises to he y ery y'aried. inclttding photographs. paintings. sculptures and installations. None ol the work has heen exhihited helore though a condition ot entry qualified students to suhmit work shown in degree shows. So along w itlt artists already latttiliar to gallery —goet's (alum lnnes and Wend} .\lc.\lurdo were hotlt in ‘Scattet tn (ilasgow'. Stuart Macken/ie recently had an impressiye eshthition itt :\lterdeett. ( )ladcle Bantghoyes photographs are increasingly well—known l'ront college like .lane and l.ouise \\ ilson I see photos). Identical twins. they collahorated whilst it] tlll'lc‘l'etll Ltl'l scltttttlS. lttttl ltlettllcttl degree shows. artd hotlt got lirsls. l.-\latt \Vootls)

a handlttl ol those selected are lrcsh