Roots Edinburgh: City Art Centre until Sat 12 Jul.

Not many people know this, but legend has it that the Scots are descendants of Scota, daughter of an Egyptian pharaoh. The story goes that Scota left her homeland, headed north and settled in the damp, more inclement climes of what was to become Scotland.

Fast forward to the 18th century. A Glasgow tobacco baron, with attendant wife and offspring, smiles benignly from a family portrait. Life is sweet for Mr Glassford Esq - he owns 24 ships and swathes of Virginia. He also owns slaves, who work on his American tobacco plantations. The portrait shows evidence of his connection with the slave trade. In profile, to the left of the family and barely discernible, is a black child servant.

For Dr Polly Rewt is curator of Roots: The African Inheritance In Scotland at Edinburgh's City Art Centre, part of the Scotland Africa 97 festival. For her, the legendary Scota and the Glassford portrait - on loan from Glasgow's People's Palace speak volumes about Scotland and the African Diaspora, and about trade, economics and slavery. She

believes the black servant in the Glassford portrait was probably painted out in the early 19th century as the anti-slavery movement gained momentum. The Glassford family may well have been getting a bit hot under the collar.

’This show is about challenging people's views of Scottish history,‘ says Rewt. ‘There is a black history of Scotland which is not just about the numerical presence of blacks.’ In the exhibition, shards of pottery dating back to Roman times show the influence of North African design and decoration. The Roman emperor, Septimus Severus, who himself came from North Africa, doubtless had black soldiers under his command during his 208 AD campaign into Scotland.

Rewt believes racism is integral to the rise of slavery. 'Before organised slavery in the 17th century attitudes to race were more neutral,’ she says. As Britain was the key player in world slavery, racism became endemic - ’an ideological just- ification of slavery'.

‘We have to challenge why it is and how it is that history records certain events,’ says Rewt. ’It is very important to look at the history of Scotland in terms of black history.’ (Susanna Beaumont)

The Birth Of Impressionism

Glasgow: McLellan Galleries until Sun 7 Sept * ***

From rebels to the patron saints of chocolate box prettiness and an extensive range of Athena prints, the lmpressronists have had the art world equivalent of a Mandelson make-over. The Birth Of Impressionism, Glasgow Museums' summer exhibition, is out to expose the movement's roots and how this band of artists, now regarded as tame, were once the bad boys and girls of the French art scene.

Don't expect rooms of waterlilies and haystacks. The show is more gestation than birth. Good-looking chaps from Greek mythology luxuriate in classical havens alongside paintings of overstuffed vases of flowers. There are landscapes from the likes of Constable and Corot alongside a dose of the 20th century Videos.

Set at Jaunty angles above a pile of gilt picture frames or tree bark installations in themselves the Videos explain how the lmpreSSionists were up against the conservatism of the art world. One contemporary commentator qmps: 'Socialists are people who don’t change their

underwear. .‘

More background information comes with a section called Art Et Science, explaining the new colour theories, namely Chevreul's Principles Of Harmony of 1839. Le Sa/on, with mannequins dressed in authentic 19th

century garb, recreates the claustrophobic confines of the official salon, with floor to ceiling hangings of more dingy still lifes and nudes.

Of course the Impressionists did not battle alone against tradition. Courbet and Manet caused numerous stirs with their paintings of 'vulgar' everyday folk works by both artists are on display here. We see the Impressionists proper in the final room, which is perhaps painted yellow to suggest a new dawn. There are interesting enough landscapes from Sisley and Pissarro, and a couple of Monets, but the well- known numbers are absent. Cezanne also makes a few appearances, although he was actually never a member of the ImpresSionist band.

Ironically, the only haystacks on show are in the exhibition shop appearing on mugs and the ubiqunous poster. Since the show eprOits the crowd- pulling power of the word Impressionism, this is hardly inappropriate. (Susanna Beaumont)

Kith Glasgow: 18 King Street until Sun 1 Jun *aHz Kith showcases the work of sixteen recent graduates from Glasgow School of Art’s painting department. All familiar branches of painting are represented. Alan Campbell’s self portrait is a restrained, severe addition to the genre, while Grace Grant’s still life and landscape are both tentatively executed studies in muted pastel colours. Sarah Malone's Sky High, is an idiosyncratic, quirky picture of a small girl sitting in a cardboard box floating in the sky. lt shares with Miriam de Borca’s Dance For The Last Sheep and Natalie Frost’s Loser a similar, fey sense of humour.


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Good enough to eat off: Karen Reynolds's untitled plate

Muter Sa’ad's work, devord of painterly marks, is the most consciously contemporary. Featuring a piece of opaque material stretched over a canvas support, this act of minimalist reduction shifts attention to the three-dimensional,

object status of a painting.

This is a valuable, timely insight into painters emerging from Glasgow School of

Art. (John Beagles)

Edward Fellows

Edinburgh: Habitat until Fri 6 Jun it at at

Habitat, the stylish outlet for homefittings, has opened up its shopfloors across the nation to artists. In Edinburgh, Edward Fellows' work appears cheek by iowl with half a dozen squidgy sofas and a host of coffee tables. It works well. Fellows' moveable wooden cubes are designer building blocks for grown-ups. Marked with thin lines of paint, they can be toyed with, built up or knocked down. Just the JOb for the stressed executive wanting a bit of post-work creative recreation. Yet there is more than jUSI tactile pleasure. Rather like op art made interactive and put on a domestic scale, Fellows’ blocks, along With his rectangles of painted wood and wall pieces, play games with the eye. (Susanna Beaumont)

Lynn Silverman

Edinburgh: Portfolio Gallery until 21 Jun at ~k in:

A bit like lvlan Ray's 'rayograms', Lynn Silvernian's new black and white photographs achieve a starkness of presentation which is both ordinary and mysterious, Constructed in a narrative sequence around the inside of a house, these claustrophobic interiors focus on the most prosaic items of everyday life —- desk lamps, electrical wall plugs and cords, the reflection of light in a darkened


Like Man Ray, Silverman has experimented with new photographic techniques in this case, digital technology. Her images have been processed from a computer onto heaVily textured satine paper using an inkiet printer. The result IS a matt charcoal-like finish on the surface which appears to deepen to an almost

tranSient quality of illumination.

In some photographs the camera IS pushed up close to the subject. The result is a blurring of light and floating abstract forms. (Marc Lambert)

Interior Light It 9, from Lynn Silverman's Interior Light series

3o May—12 Jun i997 TIIELIST as