Artist, curator, skateboard fashion devotee and party- thrower, TOBY WEBSTER is helping shape the future of art in Scotland. Words: Susanna Beaumont Photograph Jonathan Littlejohn
lF LIFE WAS a game. you sure wouldn‘t find Toby Webster sitting quietly on the sidelines watching. Life is no spectator sport as far as Webster is concerned. more one big opportunity to get off your backside and tackle everything that comes along.
Webster is a one-time product designer. now artist-cum-curator-cum-administrator and skateboarding fanatic on the Glasgow art scene. His life is. by his own admission. ‘a
juggler‘s nightmare‘. (‘arecr fluidin is a must
and time management a sometimes elusive essential for Webster.
Mind you. this is man who throws parties that take more then a few phone calls. a trip to the off-licence and opening bags of crisps to make happen. Last November. Webster held
Toby Webster: ’my life is a a juggler's nightmare'
F) L 30”
an art party that required serious organisational skills. Entitled A World Of Pom-e. Webster got his artist friends to ‘pretend to be into something that they are not‘. It saw artist-musician Jeremy Deller filling vol-au-vents with mushy peas.
But then Webster has a penchant for tickling pretensions. Though not a skater himself. he's obsessed with the skateboard scene. ‘I wear skateboard gear. I am pulled in like everyone else.‘ he says.
in IIIsun('sIu/iidp/iur/iu'tpert'ert. Webster asked eleven artists to customise the underside of skateboards. to be shown at Glasgow skate- board shop (‘micrr'te Skates. ()n the opening night. Webster invited a D] to play bad techno music. ‘It wasn‘t a normal art show. particu— larly with the anti—style DJ.‘ explains Webster. ‘lt was contextual installation.‘
Born in Glasgow. 28-year-old Webster studied product design at Glasgow School Of Art before heading to London to work for Ron Arad. a big name in design. Webster spent a year designing chairs and stylish bookworm shelving systems. before he felt the pull back home. ‘I realised I didn't need to live in London. that I liked Glasgow and there were opportunities.‘ he says. On his return he went again to Glasgow School Of Art to study environmental art.
Until recently a committee member at 'l‘ransmission Gallery. Glasgow's hippest artist-lead art space. Webster is now gallery manager at (‘(‘x\. which is currently showing l.()t'('(‘l‘(t/i. The show is curated by Webster and Martin McGeown. director of London's (‘abinet Gallery.
A group show that aims to be browser— friendly -- it includes written tributes from Manic Street Preachers fans on the disappear— ance of guitarist Richie lidwards — it has taken up more time than Webster expected. Artist 'l‘om of linland’s pencil drawing of men buggering was removed by Webster after a comilaint to Strathclyde Police. ‘We could have segregated it off from the other works but I didn't want it become the centrepoint of the show.‘ says Webster. who is now in the throws of securing a ‘less graphic‘ work by the artist.
.‘Vleanwhile another project is hotting tip. In tandem with artist Will Bradleyn and 'l‘ramway‘s former visual arts director (‘harles Esche. Webster has set up The Mm/ern Institute. Aiming to represent artists and initiate art projects and publications. it is. says Webster. ‘about art production in Scotland and building on what‘s already going on and to help keep artists here.‘
As Webster is fond of saying: "l‘hings only happen if you make them happen.’ He is going to ensure that they do.
Lovecraft is at CCA, Glasgow until Sun 27 Jul.
H 24 Jul MQVTHE llST 11