Fairytale from Glasgow
The broody pangs of a wannabe mother. the fragility of an old relative and a nasty childhood incident involving a sharp collision between a pair of scissors and her sister’s head provide the diverse inspiration behind Glaswegian artist Heather Nevay‘s forthcoming Mayfest exhibition.
Nevay says she paints what she knows because. like a writer. it‘s far easier to express something you have personal experience of. The two main strands of her recent work are her sister's desire to have a child (now fulﬁlled) and marriage, and her grandfather‘s increasing dependence on his child - her mother - for care and support. ‘We‘re an open family; we talk about our emotions.’ she says.
However. Nevay delves further into her past for the embellishing details. painting herself and her sister as beribboned girls in fussy Alice in Wonderland dresses. The ﬁgures are durnpy caricatures painted in bold colours and surrounded by recurring symbols.
‘The bird is fragility or vulnerability and the cat - l‘ve got a cat and it‘s so aggressive. So it‘s instinctive that the cat would be the aggressor.’ says Nevay. ‘1 want it to be quite symbolic. i don‘t want it just to be a wee picture but to have an undercurrent of something.‘
A further undercurrent (so deeply entrenched that it hadn‘t occurred to Nevay) is the almost fairytale habitat in which she places her subjects — a world where a garden is a place of sanctuary and the forest harbours the dangerous or the unknown.
Graduating in textile design from Glasgow School of Art in 1988. Nevay moved into painting when book cover illustration work came her way. ‘l‘rn very much interested in ﬁgurative art.‘ she says. ‘but I don‘t feel part of
anything, maybe because i didn’t do painting at art school. But i deﬁnitely don‘t want my work to be realist.’ (Fiona Shepherd)
The Engagement And Other Recent
Paintings is at Cyril Gerber Fine Art. Glasgow, 27 Apr-20 May.
For details see Glasgow Art listings.
The real thing
Peter Thomson's Mayfest exhibition is sure to raise plenty of eyebrows and CVCIT [1101C QLIBSIIOITS. Kathleen Morgan meets
i an artist committed to
telling it like it is.
Glasgow artist Peter Thomson is
5 hovering over the paintings propped
against the walls of his studio.
wrestling with their titles. Like many
artists. he finds it difﬁcult to put into
words what he has conveyed in
L powerful iruages. The problem is. these images are destined for his .‘vlayfest show and the deadline is looming.
‘The Living Room.‘ he says simply.
pointing to a large acrylic painting of a living room table set against a window view of what looks like a Glasgow
. street. The title tells only a fraction of the story. On the table sit several snow domes. each containing separate
: worlds: globules of Thomson‘s experience of growing up in what he
' calls a divided city. Across the rooru is
the disturbing image of a bullish
1 experiences. rather than trespassing
into strange territories ‘lt‘s important
5 for an artist not to speak on behalf of 1 other folk.‘ he says. “the Problems I
want to address in rrry work are to do with urban living. It's not that I fch l have a duty to do that. it just seems to keep happening.‘
‘lt’s difficult to talk about my paintings - they’re more about asking questions than making
The 33-year-old artist graduated from
Glasgow School of Art in the shadow f of ‘(ilasgow Boys‘ Ken Currie and l’eter llowson. and the socialist-realist
drummer man with a pig strapped to his '
_ bare belly. Again. the backdrop is
l reminiscent ofGlasgow. Again. the painting tells of a divided society. this time with overtones of religious
Thomson grew up in the traditionally ()range working class area of B ridgeton in Glasgow‘s east end. before moving to rrriddle-class Rutherglen. He feels strongly about expressing his own
style that won them adulation in the l‘)8()s. His work and that of many of his colleagues. contrasts with the strong. overtly political images produced by their predecessors. "The important thing for me is not to be propagandist.‘ says 'l'lromson. ‘\\'hen l was at art college. there was a \ogue for socialist—realist paintings, They are never really effective as images which move people. it‘s difficult to talk about my paintings they‘re more about
lrrigate The Desert (left) and Pet Pig by Peter Thompson
§ asking questions than making ; statements.
‘Wc developed a scepticism about the whole new figuration. lt ruade us think about the value of our work. You try
, and rcruain faithful to your own experiences. rather than being tied to
politics.‘ The closest 'Ihomson gets to political
I corrrruent is in a painting depicting two
arcs. buffeted by the sea. In them stand
' two inﬂated figures. one wearing the red stars of the eomuurnist movement. the other. a workman's overalls. East
meets west on a collision course. The
painting was created after the collapse
ofthe lfSSR. The questions raised by Thomson‘s
work are difficult ones. but his images
can be shot through with irony and
humour from fine. enchanting line
drawings to his powerful. larger-than—
life painted ﬁgures. his work spans the
divisions 'l‘lrortison recognises in society. appealing to anyone willing to
stop and think.
A .l/ar/r'st ('.\/Ill’l/lt'll o/ I’i'tr't'
l'liomson 's paintings and drawings is at ('oin/iass (nil/err. (Z/asgmr; Sat 2‘)
.-\/n' 3/) May.
Room with a view
Don’t go to New Hose Hotel expecting an ordinary art exhibition: half the stuff here isn’t art. This is a collection of ‘cultural artefacts’ that offer ideas for the future. There is furniture by Hon Arad and Susan Hunter; models for buildings of the 21 st century, including a house made entirely from glass by architects Alford Hall Monaghan Morris, as well as sculptures by Jonathan Ambrose, Toby Webster, Higel Prince; paintings by Julian Opie and Victoria Morton. There’s computer generated video; ambient music; streetwear from the hippest store in town; magazines from everywhere and a coffee machine that gives you free espressos (with love from artist Eva Grubinger).
“The objects will hopefully work to provoke conversations in the space. We want it to become a place to meet I and talk, to exchange ideas about our future,’ says Transmission committee member Will Bradley . It’s conceived to relax the atmosphere of the gallery: you can come in and kick-back in an E armchair, drink some coffee.
l, In this space the distinction between i art and design is almost diffused:
Arad’s furniture is decadent enough to be called ‘sculptural’: Ambrose and Webster’s sculptures have the perfect surfaces and sublime meaninglessness of ultra-modern design objects.
Some critical perspective on our relationship to design and technology is provided by Julian Opie’s Imagine you can order these (3): an agnostic commentary on our desire for perfect, virtual objects. Martin Boyce’s wall drawing, based on classic 50’s car- fins, has an ironic nostalgia for modernist design and a time when the
lmglne Tht ou Can Order Thes by Julian Ople
future still seemed like a good idea. For all it’s seamless surfaces and clean lines this exhibition doesn’t try to sell us a vision of Utopia. Will we ever get to the future? You feel the mellow doubt of a generation who are growning up at the end of a century which hasn’t lived up to the utopian blueprints of Bauhaus or to the vivid hallucinations of science-fiction. Hew Hose Hotel might be the closest we get to the future: check-in. It’s cool to just hang out. (Robert Montgomery) Transmission Gallery 25 April—20 May For details see Glasgow Art listings.
22 The List 2| Apr-4 May 1995