A Mad God’s Dream ii: ti
In 1817, the American writer Washington Irving wrote: 'I don't wonder that anyone residing in Edinburgh should write poetically.’ What with a castle and Arthur‘s Seat, the city was deemed an ideal location for literary types to wield their pens.
Taking its name from the Hugh MacDiarmid poem Edinburgh, this is a guided walk through the city’s literary past. it includes a portrait of Boswell and Johnson sauntering up the Royal Mile — apparently Boswell was worried by the smell of Edinburgh’s ’evening effluvia’ — numerous panoramas of the city and chunks on Scott and Stevenson.
What is missing, though, is an exploration of the city's literary output. At a time when there is so much talk about a renaissance in Scottish writing, why isn’t there more on the likes of Irvine Welsh and his contemporaries? (Susanna Beaumont)
I Mad God’s Dream, City Art Centre, anti/4 Oct, Mon—Sat 7 0am—5pm; Sun 2—5pm, £3 (£2) to three exhibitions.
The Elvis Experience ****
Since I lost my only Presley album at nine years old, the King has bored me. What l didn’t know was that Elvis was a martial arts expert, a special agent for the US Government and a Cherokee Indian.
These are just some of the revelations of The Elvis Experience, an exhibition featuring an alleged £3 million of
memorabilia collected by Englishman Vince Everett, a total Elvis fanatic. Mixing incredibly banal text - Elvis apparently liked to keep his neck warm — with great music and acceptable video footage, the show almost works. But what makes old jackets, glasses and carpet interesting? Proximity to the great one, perhaps? A glimpse of excess? Madness? Fans will rejoice. Others may gag. (Paul Welsh) I The Elvis Experience, Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, 226 7667, until 37 Aug, daily 70am—8pm, £5 (£4).
House Works * 1k *
My Baby Makes Wonderful Sculpture might be an apt title for an exhibition, but sadly not during this year’s Festival. Even Edward Fellows, who trained in sculpture at Chelsea School of Art, is adamant that the work in his current show is ’not sculpture’.
Fellows is rather unsure about just what to call his work and feels uncomfortable with the baggage surrounding the term SCUIpture. instead, he creates beautifully crafted ’objects’, some of which look like kiddies’ building blocks. But here grown-ups are invited to interact with the wooden pieces; to rearrange them, to play with them. This is a show to enjoy. (Mark Cousins)
I House Works, Edward Fellows, 77 Royal Terrace Mews, until 24 Aug, daily noon—6pm.
The king: Elvis and his chorus
The Portrait Of A Lady **~k
a _ .. i. " Sitting pretty: lady Agnew by Sargent
Sexy, sensual and sultry. Lady Agnew, sumptuously dressed in silk. sits in a floral, French-style armchair. One arm falls and lightly dasps the side of the
chair, the other holds a white rose.
John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Lady Agnew of Lochnaw painted in 1892 is a portrait of aristocratic languor. Her dark eyes gently brood, with a hint of a come-hither look. Her silk dress defines the curve of her thigh - her legs are clearly crossed. A sash of lilac silk accentuates the smallness of her waist. This is a classy woman as seductress. ‘
The portrait is the centrepiece of an exhibition of work by the American. Florence~born artist Sargent - the last grat portrait artist to paint the rich and titled in all their decadent glory. Pale young chaps lean against vast stone columns; knowingly good-looking women stand swathed in silk and satin; family groups sit, triumphant in their at-home grandeur.
The exhibition pulls together only a few of Sargent’s notable portraits. What we also get are paintings by his contemporaries Millais, Whistler and Boldini and sketches from the satirical pen of Max Beerbohm and even a mock-up of Sargent’s studio. These are interesting, but the show is more mood than content. If what you want is to catch a glimpse of Lady Agnew's melting dark eyes, they are gazing out in all their seductive glory from a huge banner suspended from the facade of the National Gallery.
I The Portrait OfA Lady Sargent and Lady Agnew, National Gallery (Venue 63) 556 8927 until 79 Oct, Mon-Sat 70am—5pm; Sun 2—5pm, £3 (£2).
Jack Vettriano *
They’re not saucy or smutty, nor particularly sexy, but very popular and very suggestive. Jack Vettriano's paintings sell like hot cakes — there's a profusion of red dots as you look around this show. The artist’s mix of painterly skills and innuendo, which often verges on the soft porn, is obviously a Winning combo.
Women, invariably with a mass of dark, curly hair, stand nonchalantly in empty interiors or wine bars, clutching a rose, a cigarette or a glass of wine. When you read the titles — OnlyA Rose, Girls’ Night Out, Cocktails And Broken Hearts, you realise you've entered the world of white wine, two-star hotels and one-night stands.
Fine territOry, but Vettriano is no Edward Hopper. No psycho drama here, just second-rate play acting.
I lack Vettriano, Dundas Street Gallery, 558 9363, until 23 Aug, Mon—Sat 70am-6pm.
...a la Barry Norman *‘ki'
Putting the boot into popcorn and movie hype, . . . a la Barry Norman takes a friendly swipe at the film festival world and film critics, offering an alternative Oscar winner.
Starring Duncan Ganley in The Kiosk — a snapshot of life behind the Cameo cinema's sweet counter — the exhibition presents a mock poster, pastiche reviews, a script and some obtuse photos and paintings.
It's a strange mix which Miles Fielder’s accompanying essay links with four disparate films. The four artists — Ganley. Sarah Huckle, Ian Morrison and Gordon Peden - certainly share the bar space but trying to draw any further connections is difficult. (Paul Welsh)
I . . . a la Barry Norman, Cameo 228 4747, until 7 Sep, daily 70am-7am.
STAR RATINGS t“: n Unmissable *‘ki'k Very ood * it t Won seeing u: Below average it You've been warned
22-28 Aug 1997 THE usr 85