Urban Sanctuary: A Public Artwork Available from Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, 622 6200.
Apart for the odd newspaper ad requesting money for a donkey sanctuary, the word sanctuary doesn't get much coverage these days. Which is perhaps why, when Glasgow-based artist Nathan Coley rang the Edinburgh Tourist Information Centre to find out if the city had any sanctuaries, he was asked to explain what he meant.
Coley’s telephone enquiry was investigative, and integral to his publication, Urban Sanctuary - A Public Art Work. Commissioned by Edinburgh's Stills Gallery as part of its redevelopment, the publication consists of transcripts of conversations Coley had with eight individuals on the notion of sanctuary.
Coley decided early in the commission against producing a gallery-bound artwork that would 'be a stone around Stills for at least the next ten years'. Instead, as a consultant to Stills' architects, Reiach And Hall, Coley focused on ideas of the urban environment and public space.
'l wondered what would happen if the designers became consultants for me and if I built a temporary pavilion,’ says Coley, recalling his response after attending several design meetings. This, however, was a practical impossibility, but the more the artist threw around ideas, the more curious he became about the concept of sanctuary.
" ICU. _ * “VHHI’, I
Sanctuary: Nathan Coley in conversation with Christine Borland
As Coley discovered though, the word itself has evolved. Stemming from the Latin word sanctuarium, meaning a holy place, it has filtered into the secular world. Today, sanctuary has come to mean a place of refuge, be it for political refugees, stress-filled execs or animals. For Coley the word, and the idea of an accessible public enclosure, teased at notions of public art. One defines space the other fills space.
'I went through periods thinking "T his is fantastic, it‘s going to be a great bit of public art and not some self- indulgent trip," ' says Coley, who produced planning application notices for a sanctuary. Tied to lamp-posts around Edinburgh, they elicited about ten responses a day, many from residents vigorously opposing such plans.
To Coley, a publication seemed the most appropriate medium for the work. A book can be publicly accessible, read in public but offer private escape and space, much like the aspirations of public art. The content of the book includes conversations Coley had with, among others. a theologian, an architectural sociologist, a police officer and an artist.
Yet the text is not dense. Through its design, which enlarges the type of occasional sentences and includes clear text-free pages, the book provides a portable sanctuary and space. Flicked through or more closely read, it feeds the need for a refuge. And, as Coley says, he would be disappointed if it just became a precious artwork. (Susanna Beaumont)
Tales From The City Edinburgh: Stills until Sat 22 Nov
artists’ voices, its arm IS to construct a
personal narratives which have
Edinburgh's Stills Gallery IS back. Gone for good is the old box of a space. Instead we have a radically redesigned lottery-funded gallery superstore, by Edinburgh architects Reiach and Hall. It involves photographic darkrooms, a canteen, bookshop and revamped exhibition space — with much better hghhng.
The opening show Tales From The City features the work of Roderick Buchanan, Tracey Emin, Georgina Starr, David Shrigley and Gillian Wearing. Utilising the respective
multi-faceted narrative exploring the pains and pleasures of urban life
Buchanan's main exhibit is a series of photographs from his on-going project exploring how tribal associations of sporting logos are transformed by geographical and cultural dislocation. Good as these are, his literal on-video tales from the City are his most interesting work. The three humorous tales dent the popular, simplistic notion that the anecdote IS the preserve of the female artist.
It would have been illuminating to offset his work against the intensely
characterised Tracey Emin’s best work. Unfortunately, at Stills, there are far too many of her ’Paul Klee doodle drawings”, which are devoid of the excessive energy and potent self- awareness of pieces like her tent Everyone / Have Ever Slept With. This is the only real disappointment.
David Shrigley continues to prove his demented soothsayer Credentials with a selection of off-the-wall pieces. And those ubiquitous Brit pack superstars Wearing and Starr present established hits from their respective projects on hope and dreams of 'ordinary people'. (John Beagles)
Private views from behind the canvas.
BILBAO IS ON the map. It might be signature architecture that has got out of hand, but however you cut it, Frank Gehry's new Guggenheim Museum for the north coast Spanish town has got the place talked about. Not surprisingly there are already mutterings about Glasgow. Last week architect Terry Farrell talked on the radio about that old chestnut, British architectural conservatism. Glasgow might already be on the map, but its reign as 1999 UK City Of Architecture and Design surely means that it should flex its architectural initiative muscle.
The proposed conversion of the Mackintosh-designed former Glasgow Herald building by Glasgow architects Page and Park into The Lighthouse, a permanent legacy of 1999, is described as 'the core‘ of the festival's programme. More to the point in these media-orientated days, will it photograph well for the nation's broadsheets?
GLASGOW'S DESIGNERS ARE rejoicing. The orders are flooding in after 101% Glasgow - a 1999 initiative and the City's input to the London trade fair 100% Design. Word is that a Swedish style supermarket lkea, impressed with the work of the Glasgow crew, plans to place an order.
CORRIDORS AREN'T THE usual home of controversy but the famed M8 that links Glasgow and Edinburgh has caused a bit of a stir. A stainless steel 71ft horn playing an ever- changing soundtrack has just been unveiled. Designed by artists Matthew Dalziel and Louise Scullion and five years in planning, The Horn was apparently inspired by 1.6. Ballard’s appearance on Desert Island Discs. Ballard talked of motorways and the sense of democracy he found in the space. Perhaps this should not be mentioned to the RAC, which is currently monitoring The Horn's effect on drivers. Ballard's interest in highways went on to inspire his novel Crash.
On the verge: Dalziel and Scullion's Horn overlooking the M8
23 Oct— 6 Nov 1997 THEUSTBS