Six foot under
Two exhibitions at Glasgow's Street Level Gallery explore the implica- tions of death for artists and mortals alike. Beatrice Colin went to see them both.
The final inevitability of death is something we Westerners. we late-20th eenturists try to dismiss. Wrapped up in the arrogance of human existence — and some would say careering to a sticky end — we find the idea of rotting below the surface of some overgrown graveyard. well. repulsive. Instead, death is trussed up with ﬂowers and serenaded with pomp and ceremony. Funeral parlours are havens of kitsch and dealers in tack and. almost like a second wedding. the mechanics of disposing of the recently deceased are so far removed from our everyday life. it‘s hysterical.
Street Level Gallery has chosen to exhibit the work of two photographers whose work deals specifically with the big D. Most people have an ingrained sense of morbid fascination. but Tracey Holland and Rosemary Donovan
What can you say about the sea that hasn't already been said? Surely by now enough has been written, painted and sung about its majesty, pathos and organic complexity? Can another exhibition really be wrung irom its well-worn shores?
Alison Roy thinks so. She spends much oi hertime wandering up and down Scottish beaches taking photographs oi the detritus that washes ashore. It's a niity pastime, yielding the kind oi installations that won't change anybody’s lite but do warm up some tantalising thoughts about all that water. Here it is in a nutshell: the
have looked beneath the polished surfaces and have captured two very different collections of images of death.
Donovan‘s show. Rites of Passage. is similar in feel to Evelyn Waugh‘s
‘The Loved One‘. Her photographs.
composed in deadpan black-and-white. are glossy images of the funeral process. Sumptuously lined in white satin. huge coffins lie open and waiting. A fresh grave is marked by a mound ofearth in the snow and a crematorium oven. tucked behind the scenes. looks like it could be baking pizza. Perfectly serene and hushed in tone. these images are theatrical. slightly shocking. but definitely amusing. At the other extreme. Holland‘s Mortal Remains doesn‘t closet the physical side of death. Here the Formerly Alive are decorativer displayed in full colour. Chickens.
Alis Roy: Torn Fragments
sea is big and poweriul and elusive. There is some interesting work here. Set in the centre of the room is the rotten and battered bow oi what looks like an old longboat: it is lull oi table
Hitching a lift to heaven: one oi the pictures irom ‘Mortal Remains‘
pigs’ heads. starlings and various bones. adorned with withered petals. dead ﬂowers and gauze. are arranged into neat still lives. The Promised Land. combines playing card kings and queens with handless clocks. and is overlaid with the puckered. putrid flesh ofa couple of capons. The shed skin of lizards and snakes arranged on board games create evocative images in the Endgame series. By framing death in pure colour and soft texture. Holland creates a surreal and somewhat repellent show.
The final curtain is made of pink polyester. To die. as Peter Pan said. will be an awfully big adventure. (Beatrice Colin)
Rites of Passage and M orlal Remains are at Street Lt’l't’l Gallery. Glasgow, until 15 Aug
salt. Ii the water doesn’t get you the salt will. Most oi the rough and ready snapshots are rescued irom banality by Roy's oiten clever captions. Overrun by the swirling tide, three car tyres burrow into the sand for ballast; the title is Retreat irom Battle.
To one side, iour spindly wall-hangings sag with the weight at symbols. One piece tackles the bizarre moon-sun nexus. Ii lunar hiccups send the oceans into a tizzy, why is the moon so barren and the sea so lertile? Do opposites attract? Stitch together a satellite photograph ol the moon, a soil-iilled pouch and a jar containing a human torso iloating in water and presto, you have a reason to think about it. Cobbling together names irom the Shipping Forecast and a tangled net studded with platitudes-on-wood is another reminder— it we need one - that the sea is a slippery siren.
Plus ca change.(Carl Honore)
Alison Roy: Torn Fragments is at the Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, until Wed 12 August.
Exhibitions are listed by city. then alphabetically by venue. Shows will be listed. provided that details reach our oiilces ' at least ten days belore publication. Artand Exhibitions listings compiled by Miranda France.
I ART EXPOSURE GALLERY 53 West Regent Street. 332 0808. Mon—Sat 10am—5pm.
See Glasgow School of Art.
I ART GALLERY ANO MUSEUM. KELVINGROVE 357 3929. Mon—Sat 10am—5pm: Sun 11am—5pm. Cafe. [D] Voluntary guides are available free of charge to conduct parties or individuals round the main galleries. Ask at the enquiry desk.
A Long Night's Journey Into Day: The Art Oi John Bellany Until 30 Aug. in celebration of the internationally acclaimed artist's 50th birthday. this show sweeps his whole career. from Edinburgh College of Art to the present. Approximately ()0 works on show. including exhibits from Bellany‘s own collection.
Paula Rego: Nursery Rhymes Until Sun 2 Aug. ()ne of the most interesting contemporary artists working in Britain, Rego is especially well known for this series of sinister reworkings on traditional nursery rhymes.
German Expressionist Prints Until 6 Sept. Beckmann. Dix. Grosz. Kollwitz and others.
Friends Picture Show Sat 1—30 Aug. Some 70 British works. from 1760 to the present day. lent by the Friends of Glasgow Museums. includes the Glasgow Boys. Mackintosh and Colourists.
European Cities Fri 7 Aug—4 Oct. A tribute to the UK‘s entrance into the single market — topographical prints. watercolours and drawings by the likes of Piranesi and Rossini.
New Arts: Otto Kunin -The Third Eye Sat 8 Aug—20 Sept. Works by the Swiss jeweller and conceptual artist which question the historical role of self-ornamentation.
I BARCLAY LENNIE FINE ART 203 Bath Street. 226 5413. Mon—Fri 10am—5pm; Sat 10am~lpm.
The Jessie M. King Archive Background information on all aspects of this enduringly popular Glasgow artist (1875—1949).
I BURRELL COLLECTION Pollokshaws Road. 649 7151. Mon—Sat 10am—5pm; Sun 11am—5pm. Cafe. [1)]
The collection of Edwardian tycoon William Burrell. including furniture. paintings. ceramics and glass. housed in an elegant purpose-built gallery.
Scottish Masterpieces Until 25 Oct. Thirty-five paintings from the National Gallery of Scotland‘s collection. traditionally taken down every summer to make way for temporary exhibitions and this year spending the season on the west coast. Artists include McTaggart. Raebum. Lavery and Drummond.
I CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS 346-354 Sauchiehall Street. 332 7521. Tue-Sat Ham—5.30pm.
Tony Cragg: Sculpture until 6 Sept. This. the ﬁrst major exhibition of works by the
l arts. worth £20.()()() and ' ; sponsored by Channel 4.
ever-inventive Liverpudlian artist since
performance of British | ' . his Hayward show in 1987, promises to
m artists abroad. however.
society. i One-hundred-and-fifty
They are SCU'PlOTS artists were nominated for . Later in the year. Channel I make a Splash- JOlm'y mm“ by CCA and i‘ Grenville Davey and y the prize in a year that 4 will present profiles of l TramWaY- I The Tate Gallery in 1 Alison Wilding. David boasted far fewer solo the shortlisted artists. with t . CENTRE FOR DEVELOPMEHTAL ""8 18 London has announced | Tremlett and Damien I shows in Britain than has the winner being Albion Street» 552 2322- Tuc'Fn the shortlist for the 1992 ‘ Hirst. an artistic enfant I usually been the case. The announced on 24 r 4 9-303m‘5Pm- . Turner Prize. one of the terrible and currently the ! Tate‘s Director Nicholas November. Odds-on ; k mini Mm" summﬂﬁ‘mbmo". um” 31 prestigious prizes in visual ' darling of London artistic l Serota applauded the Hirst. 3 J Jul. Works from drawmgv Pa'm'ng and
50 The List 3] July— 13 August 1992