Claire Barclay and the Lovecraft artists favour everyday materials but the results can be bizarre.
Words: Susanna Beaumont
It came, as some ideas do, in a flash. Claire Barclay would get herself photographed with a wolf. A touch problematic. you would have thought. Wolves have long been extinct on these shores and, if you did stumble across one, you are not guaranteed a friendly reception.
Barclay. though, was not deterred. The owner of a couple of wolves was located in the Home Counties, so she took herself off and was photographed on a hill top with a grey wolf. ‘You had to be extremely cautious, and it was tricky,’ says Barclay. ‘You felt you could treat the wolf in the same way as a dog.’
Barclay‘s work often teases expectations and toys with convention. What on first viewing might appear to be a photograph of one woman and her dog is something quite different. ‘I am trying to get a balance between attraction and the repellent,’ she says.
A Glasgow School of Art graduate, recently back from a year’s residency in Australia courtesy of the Scottish Arts Council, Barclay has been described as a bit of fetishist. For a show in Tasmania, she pinned a pair of semi- translucent. blue-veined pig’s ears to the gallery wall. You may not be able to make a silk purse out of sow’s ears, but who said the gross can’t be attractive or at least intriguing? For her show at CCA. Barclay is to
Woman-made: Lotty Batty's polystyrene shape 88 TllEllST 13—26 Jun 1997
You may not be able to make a silk purse out of sow's ears, but who said the gross can't be
attractive or at least intriguing.
One woman and her wolf: Claire Barclay on a hilltop with a grey wolf
cover the gallery ﬂoor with a stretch of yellow rubber and elsewhere will hang aluminium poles, leather and feathers.
‘I am interested in how material can relay information. a bit like another language,‘ says Barclay. ‘Feathers have certain qualities that can trigger memories and associations, but the meaning is never fixed. People will probably agree that there is something fetishist. but the references are very individual.‘
Barclay is not the only artist who debunks the hierarchy of artists’ materials - ‘Masking tape is as important as gold leaf,’ she believes. The artists in Lovecraft in Gallery 2 at CCA also show that anything goes. Their marketing pitch states: ‘Crafts. once part of everyday life, have fallen into hobby shop dilution. Lovecraft favours folk over pop, cottage over industry and people over media.’
Making the point is Tom Friedman’s piece of bubble gum. Of thread-like thinness, it stretches from the gallery's ﬂoor to its ceiling. As the show’s curator Toby Webster says: ‘We are readdressing what people consider as art.’
Another artist in the show is Rod Dickinson. better known perhaps as the man who. during the late 80$, spawned a series of crop circles under the cover of darkness in England’s rural heartland. He will show a pinboard filled with newspaper reports and scientiﬁc ruminations on the ‘phenomenon’.
Not afraid of tackling the darker side of obsession is artist-cum-performer Jeremy Deller. He has tapped into one particularly poignant strain of creativity. In the pages of the Manic Street Preachers fanzine. Deller requested memorabilia of Richie Edwards, the Preachers’ lyricist and guitarist who is missing. feared dead. The artist was deluged with poems. photographs and drawings.
‘lt’s hardcore, obsessional stuff,’ says Webster. But then, obsessions are never lightweight.
Claire Barclay and Lovecraft are at CCA, Glasgow, Fri 14 Jun-Sat 27 Jul.
Murmurs, musings and goings-on from the art world
DAVID HUME, THE famous philosopher son of Edinburgh who wrote A Treatise Of Human Nature back in 1738, is to be immortalised with a public statue on the Royal Mile. The unveiling was expected this month, but it has been postponed due to difficulties with casting the vast bronze statue. Artist Alexander Stoddart is behind the creation, which will show Hume at one and a half times life-size, dressed in a Greek-style toga.
LANDSCAPE DESIGNERS AT Edinburgh College of Art have long felt neglected. The heavies from the fashion and painting departments have had all the attention. So, in an attempt to show their muscle, landscape students have carpeted the floor of their department with real turf. As one student said: ’This is our own designer landscape installation.’ Let's hope picnicking is allowed.
THE OFTEN REDUNDANT Caledonian Hall in Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden is to show work by German artist Nicola Schrudde. Entitled Where Ochre Turns To Violet, it includes large clay sculptures swathed in soft pastel colours. Sounds like an interesting contrast to the surrounding rockery section of the Botanics.
THE VOICES OF the street newspaper vendors shouting out Evening News and the like have been recorded by artist Calum Stirling and made into artworks. The hailing and wailing has been processed by a computer to produce what is described as 'beautiful landscapes' by Edinburgh’s Collective Gallery, which is showing the work from the 10—21 June.
FREQUENT CONTRIBUTOR to The List art pages, John Beagles, is showing his work in a group exhibition called Pals & Chums in London at Camerawork, 121 Roman Road, E2 until 19 July.
Rock of ages: Nicola Schrudde's work on show in the Botanics