Art In The Square
Glasgow: George Square, until Sun 20 Apr.
No matter who is talking, one word describes last year's inaugural Art In The Square. According to dealers, organisers and visitors, the'art fair in the city’s George Square caused a 'buzz’ in the Scottish art market. With swarming crowds - 14,000 over four days - and nobody stung too badly by unscrupulous dealers, the event was evidently a great, buzzing success.
Looking for a repeat hit, Art ln The Square hits George Square again this week - a tented village playing temporary home to 42 influential UK galleries. Following an open call for participants, the fair's steering committee has assembled another representative selection of 20th century art, fit for most pockets and tastes.
‘The criteria for inclusion in the fair were quality and balance,’ explains steering-group member John McKechnie, director of Glasgow Print Studio. ‘We didn't want exclusively one style or another — not just early 20th century figurative work or cutting-edge contemporary avant-garde, but a good mrx.’
Displaying 3000 works by 600 artists, stands include London’s Flowers East, Treadwell and Portland galleries, and homegrown talentspotters like Glasgow’s Art Exposure and Aberdeen's Gallery Heinzel. With work ranging in price from £30 to £30,000, this is the perfect opportunity to become Scotland's Saatchi.
After selling 97 pieces in last year's fair, Art Exposure has set the standard every dealer wants to match.
’We had never taken part in a fair before, and didn’t anticipate this success,’ says Art Exposure’s John Heuston. 'We just did our normal thing and packed the space with as much work as possible. We still see the fair as a showcase for the gallery and new artists, though, not really as an opportunity to sell.’
Complementing the commercial galleries, organisations including Glasgow's CCA are also represented at the fair. On the CCA stand, work by Glasgow-based artists David Shrigley, Claire Barclay and Cathy Wilkes previews three forthcoming exhibitions
Surf dog: Ray Richardson's Plash (detail)
at the centre. Ross Sinclair’s new book Real Life, co-published with the CCA, will also feature strongly.
'This is a major opportunity for everyone involved in the visual arts to celebrate,’ says Chris Lord of the CCA. 'People like to visit the fair and because the CCA is a major Scottish institution, it’s important we profile our work. We were not surprised by last year’s success and deCided this time it was right to be involved.’
Unless you have a bee in your bonnet about paying cash for art, George Square is the place to buzz about this weekend. (Paul Welsh)
The Britannia Life Lord Provost's Prize
Glasgow: Gallery of Modern Art until Sat 31 May * at
It was touch and go for a few months. Would the five-year-old Lord Provost's Prize surVive? The annual award to an artist based or born in Scotland was under financial threat, until Britannia Life came to the rescue with a sponsorship package.
Good news, yes. But the award is a sadly timid affair. This year's Winner Lesley Banks walks away with a hefty prize of £12,000 — not that far behind the £20,000 Turner Prize. But the Lord
Provost’s Prize lacks the imagination that could make it a national event.
At the recent award ceremony, Lord Provost Pat Lally said the prize's aim was to 'showcase Glasgow and Scottish artistic excellence'. It is an aim unfulfilled — the work on show is not what has given Scottish art its fast growing international reputation.
This is hardly surprising given the award’s rather odd selection system. Three celebrity judges are chosen and invited to put forward the names of two of their favourite artists. This year the judges were international hair stylist Rita Rusk, former trades union leader Sir GaVin Laird and designer Jasper Conran. The artists selected
were Craigie Aitchison, Lesley Banks, John Cunningham, Norman Edgar, Bruce McLean and Anda Paterson All are accomplished artists - Aitchison and McLean have the highest profiles — but the line-up was limp.
As well as the judges' votes, 36 per cent of the 6000 votes cast by Visitors to the Gallery of Modern Art were for Winner Lesley Banks. But although her Oll painting of a bedroom interior The Bed is proficient, it is a modest picture and hardly thrilling.
The Lord Provost's Prize c0u|d be so much more but its organisers Glasgow Museums don't have the inclination. A sad case of a continually missed opportunity. (Susanna Beaumont)
Edinburgh: Portfolio Gallery until Sat 17 May * tr * *
X marks the spot: Anthony Haughey's Great Blasket Island. Abandoned, 1953
The consequences of the Irish Diaspora, which has drained Ireland's population by 5 million, forms the subject of Anthony Haughey's photographs. Exploring a vanishing population that has taken flight to new lands, Haughey's j0urney has taken him from Great Blasket Island off County Kerry, a once Vibrant Gaelic community famed for storytelling and music that has been depopulated since the 505, to the eastern seaboard of America.
Here, the notion of identity, of lrishness, is problematic. Uprooted. lrishness is suspended in limbo between two worlds. Haughey captures this sense of loss and displacement in a deceptively simple manner. But, there is a sting in its tail.
In his Famine EViction Scene, Model World which pays homage to SWift’s Gulliver’s Travels, he highlights how history is commoditied for tourists Wishing to return to ‘the old country' to discover their roots. The journey is a signifier of both Cultural COntinUIty and rupture
Other images show an abandoned Kerry coastline where horizons fade into whiteness beyond the islands. It is an effect echoed in his most haunting photograph A Portrait Of Bil/y, whose subject was one of the last Blasket Islanders to emigrate The image is taken through the Windscreen of Haughey's beloved automobile, his pers0nal symbol of America Like a ghost, like his people, he is fading into the light (Marc Lambert)
Glasgow: The Lloyd Jerome Gallery until Wed 30 Apr * * at
Ochre, green, yellow, red — Kate Frame has gone crazy at the dentist’s. Her exhibition Mexico is a wild mix of half-formed shapes, possible suggestions and ambiguous after- thoughts. in Frame’s Mexico, little stick people swim across inViting blue oceans, elastic palm trees bend double in the wind and jugs brim over with Wild flowers.
But none of these are well- maintained Vistas. Her show comes from the deliberater naive, child-like school of painting. Constructed with an adult eye, it nestles somewhere between an abstract celebration of quality paint selection and a figurative nod to a vibrant real world. Frame is not bothered about working-up detail on the canvas, she is interested in energy. Process before content. Spirit before matter. Imagined before real.
Curator Lloyd Jerome’s press release rants and raves about Tarantino- esque punch and sexually charged meaning not for me (but an exciting read nevertheless). Isabelle Allende, yes, but minus the gun- toting.
Against a wall, a two-headed peacock in charcoal and pencil struts its stuff — a simple black and White statement about natural, ebullient excess This is not for everyone, but Frame's work comes from the same exotic parade. (Paul Welsh)
7-Up At The Collective
Edinburgh: Collective Gallery until Sat 19 Apr * a: k av
Not seven as the exhibition title suggests, but ten artists, chosen from the postgraduate ranks of Edinburgh College of Art by art critic and writer Mel Gooding, fill the Collective. Pamela Miller shows six white handkerchiefs pinned to the wall and embrOidered With the words 'less’, 'is’, ’more’, ’less' and ’rnore’. One remains blank. This theme continues. Stephanie Dees Vacant Space is an abstract in off- whites and Alan Holligan's Commemorative Concrete Block Kit is a mournfully redundant, real-life, rectangular steel mould.
The show is not at all down-beat, but the pervasive mood is one of wondering. Nicola Green’s two paintings, of irises scattered on the floor and a pair of lonesome blue high heel shoes, ooze melancholy Soo Ngee Lim’s line-up along the floor of twelve alarm clocks, set at various times and ticking loudly, shows that time maybe empty but it still marches on.
* it it t * Outstanding
it t a * Recommended ﬁr * tr Worth a try
tr * 50-50
l8 Apr—l May 1997 rususns