I if this. the bicentenary year of Mozart's death. and a six weeks after The List published a rare portrait of Mozart's wife. it is appropriate that experts should recently have identified the central figure of a painting at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery as Mozart himself. The painting. by Pietro Fabris. shows the composer aged fourteen years old. sitting at the piano with his father. and performing for Scotsman Kenneth Mackenzie in Naples. 1770. Two music scholars, from Naples and Massachusetts. independently concluded that the painting depicted the Mozarts in the company of a number of musicians. artists and members of the Scottish community. Dr Duncan Thomson. Keeper of the Portrait Gallery. decribed the identification as ‘a sheer delight. The evidence is totally convincing and what a time to make the discovery.‘
V IN PRINT
I How to Look at Modern Art Philip Yenawine (Chatto & Windus. £9.99). A mercifully humorous. straightforward and comprehensive discussion of the ‘emperor‘s new art', explaining the progression from one movement to the next and providing bite-sized backgrounds to a variety of artists and their works. ‘This book is not an apology for modern art,‘ writes Yenawine. ‘Instead it is conceived as a small antidote to the ground-swells of discontent about the assaults and heresies of contemporary artists.‘ Compulsory reading for the artistically confused. I Keeping Glasgow in Stitches Liz Arthur (Mainstream. £9.99) The book of Glasgow‘s yearolong embroidery and banner-making project. in which hundreds of people took part. at the Art Gallery and Museum. Kelvingrove. Twelve huge banners were made. based on the designs of Malcolm Lochhead and illustrating different aspects of Glasgow‘s social and political history. The book has illustrated pictures of the banners. and much of the research material. including sketches and old photographs, that inspired L the designers.
out 0! ‘8"qu one“ Ag pewjed ‘toiues pue injunl suezou
A Community Revealed
In 1844 the painter David Octavius Hill and photographer Robert Adamson announced their intention to publish a book entitled The Fishermen and Women of The Firth of Forth. In the event. the project was thwarted, but now, almost 150 years later, this extraordinary photographic survey has been brought to light by The Scottish Photography Archive. with more than 70 of the pioneering calotypes featured in an exhibition at the
Scottish Portrait Gallery.
It was the gift. in 1987, of the Edinburgh Photographic Society‘s collection which unearthed the many negatives Hill and Adamson had considered ‘failures‘. These have now been reprinted and are exhibited alongside better-known images from the series. Curator Sara Stevenson believes the discovery of the negatives to reveal the full extent of Hill and Adamson's research and collaboration with the fishing
community and, in turn. to have changed the history of photography, highlighting ‘the astonishing early invention of the photographic social documentary - an idea which we thought was 20th century.‘
Against a background of industrialisation in the 1840s. destitution and disease in Auld Reekie and the social divide of the Old and New Town. Hill and Adamson‘s work focused on the model working lives and values of the villagers of Newhaven. Handsome fishwives in their traditional dress of lace caps. layers of wool petticoat and striped aprons, chat over creels; fishermen pose on boats or shore, their bairns running around. out of focus, in the background. It is the naturalness of many poses which make these images so captivating, belying the fact that some of the subjects were literally clamped to metal, to stop them from moving during the long exposure time.
The quality of the calotypes varies. Earlier prints suggest that Hill was using the camera as an instrument for ‘sketching‘ - experimenting with grouping or light and dark. The later prints are more ﬁnished. identifying the subjects and illustrating something of the life and culture of the village, such as a pastor’s visit, or preparing the lines.
Ultimately the project is an outstanding celebration of the dynamic partnership between Hill and Adamson (1843—47). Sadly, it records a world long lost.
The Great New/raven Project is at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery until Sun [9 Jan. The Fishermen and Women of the Firth of Forth is published by The National Galleries of Scotland, price £15.95.
I— Trick or treat?
Every family has one: a drawer, a chest or a box stuffed with outlandish costumes and jewellery. But is dressing up a good clean part of childhood? Or a first step towards corrosive escapism? Or even a mind-expanding lesson in imagination and self-discovery? Fiona Grant Robertson isn’t sure. Her 24 installations put the dressing-up box under the intellectual microscope. What she comes up with is a Roald Dahl-like middle ground — sinister and disquieting works. with cheerful ﬂashes.
Robertson's boxes are all-white backdrops for a cornucopia of Raj-style tunics, cotton-ball beards, paper hats, plumes and cardboard crowns - lnnocuous enough. Yet, tangled up and trying to break tree are plaster masks
One of Fiona Grant Robertson's masks, on show at the 369 Gallery
twisted into tortured, desperate expressions. “Masked Thoughts - Cats and Pussycats' is an alarming example of how even the most innocent symbols of childhood can be twin-edged. Two cat-masks are enmeshed in the
costume gear, wild-eyed and devouring cotton-ball beards.
Roberston meets ideas of image and self-transformation head on. In most of her boxes, bits of human — mainly female — bodies are adrift. One gallery wall is devoted to installations with lifelike nipples bursting out of silk jackets. The question poses itself: bow is the inside aftected by manipulations of the exterior?
But the exhibition is not all gloom and menace. Up above the boxes, Robertson has placed winged masks. Yes, they are disembodied, but they also communicate a sense of unfettered soaring, of freedom. As they fly above the chaos of the installations, these bird-like creatures. eyes tilted Skyward, are shedding the final disguise; the mask.
Robertson steers away from prescription and easy answers. Instead, she puts the dressing-up box on trial and leaves it to us to pass judgement. (Carl Honore) ‘Dressing-up Boxes’ is at the 369 Gallery, Edinburgh until 18 Jan
68 The List 20 December 1991- 16 January 1992