IN THE FRAME
Gwyneth leech spent twenty months travelling around Africa and Asia with a sketchpad. Here she recounts her experiences.
‘I concealed a sketchbook in my pocket at all times and I used to whip it out whenever I got enthusiastic about something. It was usually in a very crowded place like a market or a bus station. I would usually get about a minute to draw before a very large crowd gathered. My husband would stand nearby and juggle or do something to distract their attention but eventually I’d have to stop because someone would be standing in front of me. So I became extremer proficient at the rapid drawing technique. Then we would retreat to wherever we were staying and I would do the colour sketches from memory.
‘You never quite knew what was going to happen when you took the sketchbook out and sometimes people would get very angry. They didn’t know what I was drawing for and they would say, “I don’t know who you are and how can you draw those people if they don’t know you?” Most of the time in Africa it was fine and I would finish the drawing and show it to them and they’d say, “It’s a photograph.” They had no distinction between photographs and drawing. But every once in a while in maybe a tribal area or where people were sensitive about intrusion of the outside world, they would get very upset about people taking their images either with a pencil or with a camera. It was interesting that these cultures didn’t have an image like that. They dealt only with abstract patterns and colours.
‘The big difference I noticed was the change in colour from place to place. We’d travel small distances and suddenly people would be wearing completely different clothes. Crossing borders, everything would change. That was endlessly fascinating as the visual impact was very abrupt.
‘In terms the effect that travelling had on my work, the colour changed me, The way that people put colour together, especially in Africa, changed my palette. And then going into India and Pakistan where there are intense bright colours and you’re looking at everything under a very harsh sunlight it changed again. It’s something you can see very clearly in my show.’ (Beatrice Colin)
Notes from a Journey is at the Compass Gallery until Sat 11 June.
55 The List 3» In June I994
Veronique Chance takes the female self-image as a starting point in a show which incorporates sculpture, etchings and installations. She gets heavy with Ann Donald.
Hypothetical scenario number one; a super-slinky Cindy Crawford look- alike stares back at you every time you look in the mirror. Number two; you could pass for Eva Hershegova in that new Wonderbra you just purchased. If you nodded yes on both counts then you are obviously in the tiny minority of the British female population who are satisﬁed with their body.
If not, like artist Veronique Chance and 80 per cent of British females who don’t conform to the regulation model- size IO. you may be subject to niggling doubts about your own image brought on by the unremitting media bombardment which pressurises you to look a certain way or buy certain products.
It is these themes which interest the 26—year-old Glasgow School of Art graduate in her exhibition Dress at the Glasgow Print Studio. Employing materials such as velvet. latex. gold and mirrors she explains that the show is. ‘a reﬂection of what I find in society. It’s to do with the way we view ourselves . . . not only literally when we look in a mirror, but mentally and physically. People also judge themselves according to what they think they should look like, or what society thinks they should look like. thus building or taking away a person's conﬁdence.‘
()ne exhibit which tackles this question of confidence will be viewed in the unconventional location of the ladies‘ toilet. The arnbigiously titled Self Examination is a 4ft by 4ft mirror etched with terms like self-admire. self- abuse and self-gratify. This. explains
Chance, is the result of her interest in combining a physical and mental view of ourselves and the language to describe this. ‘I looked up all the self- isrns in the dictionary and I began to realise how negative many of them were and are what people may use when criticising us.‘
In another exhibit Chance bones in on the advertisers behind our created self- irnagc. In the series ofthirty etchings entitled ()bjei‘ts (If/30(illI)‘ and Desire each monochronmtically printed image represents a solitary object relating to the title. from lipstick to hair advertisrnents. All of these. says Chance are part of the advertisers hard- sell to persuade potential customers
that. ‘this product will transform them and their lives and make them more desirable.‘ To complement this idea of beauty she has bound the etchings in a sumptuous catalogue made of cliched chocolate-box materials such as velvet and gold.
Whether she is exploring and contrasting beatrty with medical tools of the trade in the motorised installation Invitation to the Walt: (Gown) or questioning her own mirror-image, Chance offers a personal viewpoint on the psychology of image that thousands of people (especially women) will identify with.
Dress is at the (ilasgori‘ Print Studio until 25 Jun.
:— Real times table
‘Three dimensional work’ is a vague categorisation for an art form. However, this is about as close as you will get to describing some of the most innovative work being produced in Scotland today.
The eight artists represented In The Sum of All Parts employ methods and media derived from a range of traditional artistic disciplines. Their fresh, sometimes irreverent work often uses everyday objects to engage the viewer in a process of identification that leads to unexpected perspectives.
Emily Bates’s knitted dresses of human hair are a particularly effective example of how the familiar can be reprocessed into unconventional
forms. There Is a sensuous mystery In
INTERIM by Jim Buckley the colour, shape and texture of her wraith-like garments. Andrea line is also successful in finding new characteristics within humdrum domestic items. ller hangings of tubes, plastics and metals have a disturbineg corporeal quality. By contrast, Gillian Curran relies heavily on humour to transform her constructions of commonplace items into quirky, rather trite set-pieces. lain Kettles makes more impressive use of humour in his huge, inflatable camouflage sharks. Above these airborne commando fish, Jim Buckley’s photographs magnify the
insides of his curious light boxes. The boxes themselves are interesting studies in the relationship between objects and their internal and external spaces.
Lucy Brown’s installation is the one work that invites the viewer to move within the space it creates. However, the impact of a glass bridge over a pool of sump oil is lessened by the number of times these component parts have been used elsewhere.
This is an interesting show, and the City Art Centre should be congratulated for devoting space to the work of younger, unestablished artists. However, there Is also something disappointing about the presentation of this exhibition. All but the strongest pieces are weakened by a dark and unimaginative arrangement. One hopes this is a temporary shortcoming, and not a symptom of the recent ambitious refurbishment. (Justin McKenzie Smith)
The Sum of All Parts is at the City Art Centre until 2 July.