FEATURE GALLERY OF MODERN ART
Gallery of dreams
As Glasgow plunges into its year-long celebration of visual arts, Susanna Beaumont gets a sneak preview of one of its highlights — the opening of
the Gallery of Modern Art. ess than two months before its opening. Glasgow‘s
Modern Art is the scene of frantic
activity. lnside its walls. an army of
builders and plasterers are working. while outside. security guards patrol. as dumper trucks fetch and carry.
Standing in the midst of these men at work. Anne Barlow. Glasgow‘s curator of modern art and design. describes the shape of things to come. ‘Thcre’s going to be a podium around the outside of the gallery with sculptures. btit Wellington is going to stay.‘ she explains. referring to an equestrian statue of the duke. erected in Royal Exchange Square in l‘)—l4.
Situated just off Glasgow‘s George Square in the former Royal lixchangc building. the Gallery of Modern Art is setting out to be no ordinary kind ofgallery. 'We aim to break down boundaries and show the links art has to other aspects of life.‘ says Barlow. who goes on to talk ofthe importance of accessibility for all and the themed galleries which will house an eclectic multi-media collection. There‘ll be interactive art. the best in Scottish contemporary art. big names in Western art and exhibits from South America and Papua New Guinea.
The opening of the Gallery of Modern Art on 30 March — a highlight of Glasgow‘s year-long Festival of Visual Arts — adds y'eight to the city's campaign to become a world centre for the
visual arts. Glasgow. it seems. is seriously set on cultural expansion. Btit behind the scenes. there are murmurs that Glasgow City Council should cut the glitz. the initiatives and festival launches and fund what’s already up and running.
particularly in the light ofthe possible closure of
l-laggs Castle. Provand‘s Lordship and Pollok House due to a cash crisis. Firmly behind the festival of visual arts. Glasgow City Council leader Pat Lally nevertheless admits the city's
‘We aim to break down boundaries and show the links art has to other aspects of life.’
galleries could be affected by the restructuring of local government on 1 April. “The new budget will be fixed on 5 March'. he says. “l presume there is a threat to everything at the moment.‘
Initiated by the director of Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries Julian Spalding. and Councillor Lally. the Gallery of Modern Art is a big money project. It is costing over £7 million to convert the old Royal Exchange. home to Sterling‘s Library until 1993.
Originally a city mansion. built in the l77()s by tobacco tycoon William Cunningham. the grand building is used to change. Once the
Glasgow headquarters for the Royal Bank of
Artist's vision: Wiszniewskl’s sketch showing how the Gallery of Modern Art cafe will look
15 The List 9-22 Feb 1996
Scotland. it was neo-classicised in l827. when architect David Hamilton added a portico. columns topped with Corinthian capitals. a cupola and clock tower. A true architectural statement in power and glory. it was Glasgow‘s Exchange for over a century. Acquired by Glasgow Corporation in 194‘). it housed Sterling's Library from l954.
But will GOMA‘s (yes. the acronym is already in circulation) 24.000sqft display area over four floors work? The themed galleries — Earth. Wind. Fire and Water — will take. tip the majority of the space. Aiming to break away from usual gallery conventions. they will. says Barlow. ’signal a different kind of space and experience.
but the themes will not be labourcd‘. The basement Fire gallery will have low-level lighting. flame~coloured flooring and
interactive art. The first floor‘s \‘v'ater galleries will have curyy seating in oak and maple. commissioned from craft artists Wales and Wales. and sculptures by Russian—born artist Eduard Bersudsky. Also planned are galleries for temporary exhibitions and a roof—level cafe. being designed and decorated by Glasgow artist Adrian Wis/.niewski (scc Consuming Passion below).
Much of the gallery‘s content remains a secret. although it will include painting. sculpture. photography. craft and design from the 1950s to the present day. "There will be lots of surprises.‘ says Barlow. in 198‘) the (‘in Council granted GOMA £3 million and the annual interest — more than £25000 -- has been used to buy art and fund commissions. Works by David Hockney. Bridget Riley. Paula Rego. Beryl Cook and Niki de Saint Phalle are to feature along with paintings by the big names from Scotland — Bellany. llowson. Campbell and Currie. But will there be work by the 90s generation of artists born or based in Scotland. for example Douglas Gordon. soon to feature in the British Art Show in lidinburgh'.’ For the moment. it‘s a case of wait and see what the Gallery of Modern Art cracks up to be.
The Gallery of Modern Art. (I/usgmi' ()/)(’II.S‘ to the public on .S'umrday .i’() .l’lmz'li.
Designer of the Gallery of Modern Art‘s cafe Adrian Wisznicwski believes Glasgow is finally entering the world stage. He speaks to Susanna Beaumont.
caring the obligatory hard hat. artist Adrian Wiszniewski stands in a space that is soon to be his — the Gallery of Modern Art's cafe. Wiszniewski has been commissioned to decorate it. from floor to ceiling. He‘s even had a say in the furnishings. and mentions Philippe Starck chairs. white table-cloths and matching china.