Angels and motorways
Artist duo DALZIEL and SCULLION may have gone rural but their work is far from being off the beaten track.
Words: Susanna Beaumont
A few years back. artists Matthew Dalziel and Louise Scullion decamped. They moved out of Glasgow’s metropolitan whirl and settled in St Combs. a small fishing village on Scotland’s north east coast. So these days when it comes to looking out of the window their view is of the grey-green North Sea and fishing trawlers. not of urban life and city folk.
[1 was no passing whim that prompted the geographical shift. more a pragmatic career move. As Dalziel puts it: ‘We moved to make work. It was a very conscious decision to move to this situation. You can see more clearly if you look from the outside in.’
But it is far from a case of out of sight of the Central Belt. out of mind. Dalziel and Scullion are seen as Scotland’s most exciting artist duo. In 1995 they showed .S'urgussum at the Venice Biennale and their exhibition last year at Glasgow’s CCA toured to Birmingham‘s lkon Gallery and Bristol’s Arnolfini. Over the next couple of months their sound and vision installation Migratnr is to open at Heathrow airport and in August The Horn will be unveiled.
The latter couldn’t be more Central Belt. A 24m high stainless steel structure. commissioned by West Lothian District Council. The Horn. is to be situated just off the M8. midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It will certainly make a change from the usual motorway vista; ofjourneys punctuated by service stations and tuning into the travel news.
'When you do a lot of driving you become familiar with certain landmarks which then have associations. Hopefully The Horn will have the same sort of associations.’
Angel face: a still from Dalziel and Scullion's Endlessly
, particularly as The Horn will ‘periodically speak to the
‘lt could be thoughts of people in cars but it will be quite random and continually changing.’ says Dalziel. who frequently makes long car journeys and is aware of the importance of ‘landmarks' along the way. ‘When you do a lot of driving you become familiar with certain landmarks which then have associations. Hopefully The Horn will have the same sort of associations.’
In a more conventional setting. Dalziel and Scullion’s End/esst is also to make its first appearance in Scotland at the Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art. First seen last year in Sunderland. the two-screen video installation shows footage of an angel from a Fraserburgh cemetery and the shifting. constantly undulating North Sea. The work is meditative and curiously hypnotic. throwing up thoughts on the idea of ‘heaven on earth‘ and a sense of constancy yet change, as the sea continues to lap against Britain’s coastline.
Dalzicl and Scullion‘s work frequently explores notions of spirituality. There may be frequent talk of the secularisation of society. but how will the need for faith and belief be sustained? ‘lt is genetically built in to us to keep striving for this spiritual thing.‘ believes Dalziel. ‘There’s a continual yearning through humankind. but lots of ideologies have failed.‘
Though out to explore this dilemma. Dalziel and Scullion are no iconoclasts. They are more purveyors of work charged with a sort of spiritual moodiness that gets the viewer thinking and teases the mind to contemplation. Or as Dalziel puts it. work ‘to make you concentrate on things important to you. To create a context or situation where people have a heightened moment of reﬂection.‘
Endlessly is at the Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Sat 5 Jul—Sun 14 Sep. The Horn, is at Polkenneth Country Park, West Lothian from the end of Jul.
Murmurs, musings and goings-on from the art world
GLASGOW GIRL CHRISTINE Borland. a former student of the city's art school, has been shortlisted for this year's Turner Prize. Accusations that the all-woman shortlist of Borland, Angela Bulloch, Cornelia Parker and Gillian Wearing is a PC comeback to last year’s all male line-up are daft. Let's face it, there are lots of exciting women artists around. The doyen of smug controversy and art critic for London's Evening Standard Brian Sewell has already come out with a corker: 'Clearly the Turner jury felt it had to do something to keep the viragos quiet, having offended them all last year . . . Women are very good at executing things that men have already done. In other words they can imitate.‘
MORE IMPORTANTLY, CAN Glasgow produce a second Turner Prize winner on the trot after last year's winner Douglas Gordon? Either way, it puts to shame Scotland's big art institutions. Borland's Black Museum was shown at Edinburgh's Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art under the mantle of 1997's British Art Show, drawing 35,000 visitors over a two month run. Edinburgh's Fruitmarket Gallery and Glasgow's Gallery Of Modern Art seem to have scant interest in the bevy of artists in Scotland who are making waves on the global art scene. It is about time they got with it.
ALL IS NOT well with Glasgow's supposed blockbuster The Birth Of Impressionism. News is that the show is facing potential losses of £350,000. Glasgow Museums hoped to attract 100,000 visitors in four months — more than 20,000 a week - but only 5000 have so far seen the show. Its conception was far from well-planned from the start. Seemingly, Glasgow Museums chief Julian Spalding was unable to secure a Hockney show and went for a shotgun partnership with Creamuse, the French exhibition organisers of the Impressionism show. The resulting offspring is not what it was cracked up to be.
The RIAS (Royal Incorporation Of Architects In Scotland) has gone on line - www.rias.org.uk - and is offering a ’graphic rich site‘, with advice on how to select an architect, exhibitions and events.
Forsenic moments: Christine Borland's Black Museum