Page and Park
Edinburgh: Matthew Architecture Gallery Mon 24 Mar—Fri 18Apr.
Given the much talked about renaissance in contemporary Scottish writing - witness the meteoric rise of Irvine Welsh, A. L. Kennedy and Alan Warner - can a similar flourishing be seen in architecture? Is there a distinctly 'Scottish’ architecture or has it succumbed to the allure of the glossy international architectural circus?
These thorny issues have taxed many architects and academics of late. Particularly with the completion of major building projects such as Edinburgh’s new, so-called financial district on Lothian Road. Arguably the lacklustre, corporate-style edifices are just bland, empty gestures. The development is a cause for concern, not just for those eager to see a so- called Scottish style but for those concerned with architecture’s well- being as a whole.
One Glasgow practice of architects, Page and Park, however, would stubbornly resist accusations of blandness. Founding partner David Page believes, ’building houses, shops, museums, squares and parks is about one thing — making and celebrating civilised cities.’ And as their work is the subject of an exhibition at
Edinburgh’s Matthew Architecture Gallery, there's a chance to decide how good they actually are at ‘making
Founded in 1981, Page and Park quickly established a high-profile reputation with two early competition wins — the Glasgow Cathedral Precinct Design and Sinderins Sheltered Housing in Dundee. This was further consolidated with the Italian Centre in Glasgow’s John Street. A Mecca for fashion junkies and wannabe Versace victims, this project alone scooped eight awards.
Other jobs have included a revamp of Hunter Square on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, which has received mixed critical reception. Last year the practice also won the international competition to convert the former post
To the lighthouse: Page & Park's proposals for Mackintosh's former Herald office
office building in Glasgow’s George Square into the National Gallery of Scottish Art and Design. The
conversion, however, is on hold due to the rejection of
the funding application by the National Heritage
More likely to get off the ground are Page and Park’s recently unveiled plans for Glasgow’s so-called Lighthouse. Formerly The Herald newspaper’s offices, the building was designed by the city's famed son Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1893. The restyling of this grade A-listed building is being trumpeted as the flagship project of 1999 City of Architecture and Design. Let's hope it is the much-needed beacon of inspiration for contemporary Scottish architecture. (Mark Cousins)
Men at work: Exidore antics
Glasgow: Bar 10, Wed ZApr—Sun 4 May.
Ask Ryan EXIdore and Aspyre Exidore to explain how they became an artistic double act and they reply that they have similar brain matter. ’We are very Gilbert and George,’ they chime. 'We have the same mentality.’
Ryan Exidore and Aspyre Exrdore, as you may have guessed, are aliases. Both men — Ryan a Glaswegian With a short back and sides, and Aspyre, an
82 THE UST 21 Mar—3 Apr 1997
Australian with dreadlocks — are escapees from the world of advertising. Disillusioned with the ad man’s life of 'big surts and big bucks and no creativrty', they have reinvented themselves as artists.
Known collectively as EXidore, they are a bit like kids let out of school early — eXCItable and into everything. But why the aliases? ’It's a bit of fun,’ says Ryan who explains that EXidore was the uncle in the 70s US alien comedy Mork And Mindy. He also lets slip that Ryan is taken in veneration of his hero, Man United footballer Ryan Giggs.
As to heroes in the art world, Ryan and Aspyre are big fans of Dadaism and are on bended knee when it comes to talking about Andy Warhol. Proclaiming their allegiance to Warhol with verbal vrgour, they see themselves as creating a similar hothouse of artistic actiVity in Glasgow as Warhol did With the Factory in New York 'We are a movement,’ they declare. ’We want to be clasSical and futuristic.’
But for the past few weeks the duo have been preparing their debut show
Flat Art at Glasgow’s Bar 10. The press release — these boys are understandably hot on marketing ~- announces it as 'taking two dinieriSIons to another dimension' It has involved cruising the streets and rifling through coat pockets to find drinks cans, sweet wrappers, crisp packets, cigarette packets, lUSl about anything that was 3-D but has ended up flattened
It is an extension of Pop art and a comment on a throwaway sOCiety, explain Exidore, who go on to scan the found, flat objects and blow them up to Outsize cardboard cut-outs. Yet they have no truck With one sacred cow of 905 art. Exrdore offer their very own take on the work of pickling king Damien Hirst Of a weekend the duo often descend on Glasgow's Barras and buy In bulk second-hand cuddly animals. 'We put them in jars and pickle them in white vrnegar,’ says Ryan ’We don’t need real animals, we recycle,’ they say of their tongue-in- cheek but very Dada Pick/ed Pets (Susanna Beaumonti
Glasgow: Street Level until Sat lZApr ****
A founding force of the Berlin Dada movement, the Austrian-born Hausmann was hot on polemics. He had a global sense of gloom and doom, and roved Europe troubled by real-life political horrors of Nazi Germany and Fascist Spain. Billed as ’the most exuberant of Dadaists, the one most eager for battle’, his art was a sharp commentary of what he viewed as the slow but sure destruction of reason and justice.
This exhibition of photographic works dating from 1927 to 1957, however, shows none of this battling. These coolly executed black and white photographs are more to do with leisure and pleasure than debate. Taut female nudes Iaze in the sun and are shown next to pictures of undulating sand dunes — both have similarly sensuous curves and colour. There are also domestic still lifes of kitchen utensils and fruit on wicker chairs. That said, this is not a disappointing show, rather a different angle on a well- known face. (Susanna Beaumont)
Jim Dine Glasgow: Glasgow Print Studio until Sat 19 Apr *‘A'
Empty hearts: one of Dine's prints
Internationally-renowned artists often disappoint and Jim Dine is no exception. He might be a well-heeled Survrvor of Pop art and other events of 1960s America, but his first solo exhibition of prints in Scotland is flat and uninspired. It Simply confirms technical ability, nothing else.
Describing the process behind his work, Dine claims to have trusted ’random thoughts and dreams and things that come to me as I am doing something’. it certainly looks that way. With reCUrring motifs such as the love heart, Venus de Milo, a bathrobe, the raven and the owl, the etchings and wood block prints all flounder thematically.
In LA, these icons may suggest death, wisdom or scavenging for ideas, but in Scotland a poorly drawn bird is craft shop fodder, whatever the price (approximater £4000 a piece). One exception is Summer, a triptych showmg a little Pop vibrancy, but Dine's work remains very expensive American wallpaper. (Paul Welsh)