Call at nature: Fay Godwin’s photograph trom 1980 Black Sky at Callanish (top); and Will Maclean’s Alignment Receiver Calanais in wood, bone and metal
Talbot Rice Gallery. Edinburgh. Until Sat 10 Feb.
Stoned travellers. gee-whim Americans, rnegalith enthusiasts. Momingside ladies. lumbering coach parties and artists by the boat load — the Standing Stones ofCalanais on the Isle of Lewis have patiently played host to them all. ‘This show must be the longest running on earth.‘ says photographer Satn Maynard on the comings and going of this historic site. Over 5000 years old. they certainly have the edge on Tllt’ Mouselrup.
Despite this century's discovery that the stones were erected as a highly sophisticated way of relating the passage of time to the stars. they continue to command a mystery. Calanais at the Talbot Rice Gallery shows the work of 24 artists (only three are women) inspired by the standing stones. It is dominated by the photographic image. but the theme of the exhibition goes beyond merely a moment of shared subject matter to a point where each work is able to cast light on the next.
Mark Johnston‘s photographs on aluminium. in particular. convey the awe the stones inspire while Fay Godwin's Single Stone Wit/r Single Sheep reminds us of the ‘wisdom‘ of the stones whereas George Wyllie warns against over-marketing our heritage — he harnesses stones in a metal contraption and pierces them with the paraphemalia of the tourisrn industry. The damage to Scotland’s landmarks from tourism is repeatedly pointed out.
Others respond to the astronomical function of the stones. with references to the sophisticated calculations of our ancestors. The shape of the stone from above is also explored — its signiﬁcance having given rise to a wealth of UFO theories. (Lara Donaldson)
THE SHADOW OF THE OBJECT
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Since Freud developed his theories of psychoanalysis 100 years ago. artists have used his writings as a guide to their unconscious and to the workings oftheir hidden selves. Symbolists like Redon and Klimt were influenced by Freud. whilst Surrealists Dali and Ernst found his dream interpretations a key to unlocking their own subconscious imaginations.
When Freud conceived the phrase ‘the shadow of the object‘. he wanted to define the transforming role that objects have in an individual‘s development. However. it has also provided the title fora touring exhibition at Edinburgh College of Art showing the work of four artists.
Jo Kirk attempts to console the private and personal experiences of her
own body alongside the broader cultural inﬂuences of her convent school. Asa result. we find disconcerting images like ('opulu where a series of coat buttons are surrounded by strands of human hair as if they've been plucked straight off a living animal; or musical scores which have either hair pleated into them or nylon nodules replacing inky notes. In contrast. medically trained Asif Kantil turns inwards to exatnine a more spiritual side of the natural world through gouache paint. The itnages he discovers look primitive — symbolic views of a society agitated by their existence. l-lis studies of Darwin‘s theories ofevolution and natural selection have provided food for thought.
The continually blurring boundaries between our physical body and manufactured objects preoccupies listher Sayers. She is concerned by the way spare-part surgery is manipulating our natural bodies to seem like we‘ve stepped off a production line. The series of latex ‘sandcastles'. like up-
turned udders. look as if they've been moulded from life but the bone china objects that are packaged together resemble an eccentric tea service which can be replaced if broken with exact replicas. It asks the question: is the human body we now see perishable and real or durable and lactory-ntade'.’
()n the other hand. Andrew likins has chosen to bypass the self and examine the purpose of painting itself. l-lis titles itnply narrative. but he doesn‘t paint representational images. Red Riding Hmnl consists of two red. wooden rectangles. the smaller one placed on top of the larger one. with nails protruding from either side.
If we're to learn anything frotn this curiously cerebral exhibition. it‘s tnore that the power of the mind cannot be defined in straightforward terms. The work on display is not so much disturbing as demanding. lf Descartes wanted to prove ‘I think therefore. I am'. then these artists have applied the same reasoning through art. See if you agree with their pictorial philosophies. (Paul Smith)
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Psychological notes: Jo Kirk’s Chora - Come Again
NEW WORK - MARC JENNINGS
Practice Gallery, Glasgow, until Thurs 1 February.
The dental practice is a powerhouse of pain, blood and terror. Wrong. The dental practice run by lloyd Jerome is a powerhouse of art, virtual reality and cosmic calm, where the motto ‘no tear’ is writ bold. llow eighteen months old, this Glasgow dental practice/art gallery continues as it set out - to be the complete antithesis of the stereotypical idea of the man in a white mask drilling out mercury tillings. Jerome employs an
aromatherapist to soothe any tensions
before or after treatment and the reception-cum-contemporary art gallery acts as pa showcase tor the work oi talented young artists, sculptors and ﬁlmmakers who may not yet have had a chance to exhibit their work in a large commercial gallery.’ Skirting a central installation are tour works by Marc Jennings, a former winner at the Millers award ‘Young Scottish Artist of the Year’. Titled What Does Your Soul look like? Jennings’ exhibition aims to ‘catch a tragment ot reality by surprise’ in photographs that sometimes shock and sometimes blur reality with a hazy dream-like quality where time does seem to have trozen tor a tlicker ot a second. Most memorable is the graphic close-up llirstian, in which
blood and guts overllow trom a dead
hare lying in virgin snow. Somewhat incongruously, next to it is a disconcerting and blurry close-up of a man’s receding head steeped in warm colours, which gazes upon the viewer with gaping eyes.
The permanent installation by sculptor Stephen Skrynka is an intriguing wraparound walk-in compartment. A series at glass panels tilled with bubbling water generated by pumps surround the mini- waterworld, while inside, three monitors at the backbone ot the work generate alternate footage of visitors to the gallery and apt Technicolor tilms such as Atlantis. Calm is the resulting and enduring emotion.
Both shows are worth a peek whether you’re having a molar extracted or not. (Ann Donald)
5' The List 26 Jan-8 Feb I996