V IN THE FRAME
Caroline Ednie talks to Will McLean about the inﬂuences of his Scottish roots on his work.
An etching by Ml! McLean inspired by Derick
Thomson’s poem Strathnavar g _ . . I hrdden explosive that echoes in the
‘My background ts from Skye and Wester ltoss where I spent a lot of time as a child. I left school at fifteen and went to the Merchant llavy. l was at sea for a number of years, but I had to leave because my eyesight failed me, and it was at this point that I went to art college. During that time I worked in the herring fishing industry in Skye and I’ve always had this great interest in the sea and West Highland tradition, all of which is reflected in my work.
At the moment I’m involved in designing cairns in lewis; memorials to the land raiders and people who were uprooted in the Clearances. Thematically they share the same background as my other work but this will be on a larger scale and with a different use of materials, so it’s a new departure for me and I’m really excited about it.
Although I trained as a painter I seem
to be moving towards sculpture all the time and I really do now prefer it as a medium. I am, however, a great admirer of John Bellany’s painting. I have a great sympathy and empathy with Bellany’s subiect matter and I think he’s one of the outstanding figures of my generation of Scottish artists.
The poetry of Sorley McLean has also influenced me a lot. Contemporary Gaelic poetry and the oral tradition of Gaelic folklore collected by people like Campbell of lslay, I read avidly and sometimes feed into my work. These are very important sources for me. I only wish there had been a visual tradition in Gaelic culture. There may
i have been at one point, but very little
from the early years has survived. Scotland is a good breeding ground for artists at the moment though and things are picking up again. There are some marvellous young artists coming through who will really make an impact on the art world. For a while the Scottish figurative artists were attracting a lot of attention and although a lot of it was justified there were, on the other hand, a lot of
5 artists working in Scotland who didn’t ‘I get the attention they deserved. There seems to be a much broader base now 3 which makes me very confident and
A portfolio of Will McLean’s coloured etchings, ‘A light of lslands’, will be on display at the City Art Centre from Sat 18 Dec-19 Feb.
58 The List I7 December I993—l3 January I994
_ Lives in the
Photographer Owen Logan talks to Justin McKenzie Smith about his latest show.
This is ()wen Logan‘s first major exhibition since Al Mug/rrib opgned to
international acclaim in 1989. Without question. the wait has been worth it.
. i Time and care have been invested in 5 creating a show of remarkable - intelligence and structure. Behind these
beautiful. humane portraits there is a
viewer‘s mind long afterwards.
While working on Al Mug/nil). Logan made several trips through Europe with North African emigrants. He became fascinated by the impulses that drove people to uproot themselves in order to travel vast distances to unknown destinations.
In 1990. he began to study Italian emigration — a subject to which he felt a personal connection through his Italian mother. Working partly in Southern Italy and partly among Italian communities in Britain. he has
. produced two sequences of ' photographs representing vile ullo .rpecr'hio — lives in the mirror.
The two sequences unfold from the central image of a small. blindfolded boy poised to pick the winning number
from the Neapolitan lottery. For Logan.
3 chance is an energising life-force with ‘ which the emigrant has a particularly i close relationship: ‘To escape the arbitrary nature of life on the margins of one society. the emigrant makes an
; attempt to raise the stakes in another
country. It requires extraordinary
dynamism to take such a chance.‘ Logan reflects this link between
chance and dreams of fulﬁlment in the
structure ofthe exhibition. Each
i photograph is numbered and titled
according to La .S‘mmjiu — a popular ltalian handbook which translates
1 dreams into number formulae that can
be used to play the lottery. However. to rely on chance also leaves one exposed to cruel threats. The
9 exhibition is shadowed by the image of
the SS Anmdom Slur. sunk in 1940 by a German torpedo whilst carrying ‘alien‘ British Italians to internment camps in Canada. It reminds us that
I emigrants can never fully protect themselves against the ﬂuctuating
5 Having worked with the Sikh
community in Britain. as well as migrant North Africans. Logan is conscious of the contemporary significance of Bloodlines: ‘Although the history of Italian emigration is specific. there are too many experiences parallel to our tirrres. In each era there are new rrrigrants who have the sarrre special and ambiguous relationship with fate.‘
This reality is developed in a book to which he is currently putting the finishing touches. As soon as that is done. he‘s off to Nigeria to work on a new project. It is exciting to know that the momentum which has propelled Owen Logan through two exceptional exhibitions will now sustain him into a third.
i ‘tolerance’ levels of host communities. Blow/lines — l'ilr’ ul/u .S‘pr'r‘r'llin is a! the
(‘01. Glasgow until [5 Jun.
5 If you set out your stall as a plagiarist, albeit one who does it to needle the art establishment, you can’t complain ; when someone else rips off your
1 ideas. Stuart Home, the london-based . writer of pulp novels and self-styled ‘anti-artist’, finds some remarkable
similarities between his own ‘art-
; interventions’ of the late 805 and the
glt Foundation’s recent hi-lacking of
3 the Turner award ceremony.
‘ ‘I like what the It Foundation do but ) their trouble is that they make a joke but don’t bring out the explicit points
i behind what they do,’ llome says. § Home and his band of art-saboteurs,
' the lleoist Alliance, see themselves as
the contemporary manifestation of a tradition of avant-garde ‘-ists’ stretching back through Situationism :and Dada. They threaten to start where the It Foundation left off by taking up cudgels, or more probably sledge-hammers, against Rachel gWhiteread’s ‘llouse’, the work that was simultaneously declared the best :and worst of contemporary art. (It
money talks, twice as many fivers said it was bad than good.) What the Alliance objects to,
; according to its latest leaflet i campaign, is Whiteread’s
‘universalising’ of Victorian
3 architecture which strips the actual § terraced house of ‘the deep political : implications of [its] history’.
Previous interventions by the lleoist
; Alliance include a protest against the , ‘racist and elltist’ composer
Stockhausen when the group threatened to ‘Ievitate’ a Brighton concert hall during a perfomance of his music. Of course it was an
1 exercise in media manipulation - local ' newspapers understand the language
of the English eccentric far more
readily tha composer experimenting with the twelve-tone system. Stockhausen was further sidelined when another bunch of opportunists set up a rival demonstration to ‘heal the negative energy’ that would be left by the proposed levitation.
Creating a media event isn’t the sole
. aim, according to Home, but it helps. ‘ll people don’t know you’re doing
stuff, you are howling in the wind,’ he says. ‘I’m not relying on the media but why ignore it?’ (Eddie Gibb)
Stuart llome will speak about his anti- art activites as part of Winterschool (see Agenda) on Tuesday 4 January at the ltamshorn at 12.45pm. Details on 041 552 4400 ext 2146.