Mixed media messages and 20th century socialites, CHRISTINE FREW and ANGUS HOOD examine a heady world, in the name of slowing us down at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Words: Susanna Beaumont
lmagine the scene. A socialite lounges beside a pool. Glass in hand. she oozes well-being and casually flaunts her stylishly chic lifestyle. In another scene, the socialite has exchanged the palm- hemmed pool for an interior of soft fabrics, plump cushions and acres of highly-polished surfaces.
These days you can’t move for gloss - very shiny gloss. The pages of Hello!, weekend supplements and inch-thick style magazines all triumph the high life, through ads or pictures of primped and preened ‘private’ individuals or personalities. For artists Christine Frew and Angus Hood, it is a curious, half-seductive world.
‘In contemporary coverage — whether it be in the glossies, gossip columns, the art press, authorised or unauthorised biographies — the language used, the images and the quotes given becomes a currency,‘ says Frew. ‘lt may be seen as superﬁcial or deadly serious . . . and subjected to the fluctuations of “fashion” and “social acceptability” — in and out- nessf
Frew paints hi-gloss individuals — most often women from the 505 with trim figures and painted lips. In particular, she has been interested in the life and times of the American writer Truman Capote and his coterie of stylish women friends. ‘Truman’s swans [the name he gave his women friends] were big socialite women big in a socialite way,’ says Frew who ﬁnds the way the media has mediated the character of these women so very revealing.
Angus Hood’s work is also informed by the media and everyday visual information. Through a heat- transfer process, Hood lifts images from various sources. Here a supermodel, there a paper bag printed with the innocuous words: ‘Thank You — Please Call Again‘. Hood’s work is a bit like visual punctuation. Alongside these ‘snatched’ images, are panels of varying sizes filled with plain colour.
Arranged across a wall, they demand that the eye
80 THE LIST 8—22 Oct 1998
'The language and images used in gossip columns, the art press and biographies have become a CUI‘I‘QDCY.’ Christine Frew
Glory, glory. Gloria Guinness at leisure, from a painting by Christine Frew
follow the ‘beat’ and occasionally pause. “The work is no way a critique; more a celebration of the huge complexity of wonderful things.’ says Hood. And this takes in everything from Chinese supermarkets to the Beach Boys and Sonic Youth, by way of photography and the philosophic writings of David Hume. If you’re out to find a metaphor. Hood’s work could be seen to offer a breather in a world cluttered with mixed-media messages and corporate seduction ploys to buy.buy.buy.
But Edinburgh-based Hood and Frew are no flippant commentators. making put-downs on taste or style. It is more a case of trying to make us all slow down and take a pause for looking. lmportantly for the duo. their show is taking place at lnverleith House, situated in the middle of the city’s Botanic Gardens. Just getting to the space — walking over grass. under trees. past herbaceous borders — will have awoken viewers from their usual visual autodrive, the artists hope. ‘The view outside the gallery of the Botanics is as important as what is inside.’ says Frew. ‘It will invite a dialogue.’
Christine Frew 8: Angus Hood are at lnverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh Sun 18 Oct-Sat 29 Nov.
Art in the frame.
GLASGOW’S ROSS SINCLAIR and Richard Wright are two of five artists to receive £30,000 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation New Visual Arts Awards. The award is not seen as a prize but a form of financial support which will be given to the artists over a period of three years. Sinclair, famously seen bare-chested with ’Real Life’ tattooed across his back in Real Life Rocky Mountain at Glasgow’s CCA, explores tartan romanticism, while Wright paints directly onto the gallery wall. Over the last couple of years he has taken on walls at Edinburgh's Fruitmarket and National Gallery of Modern Art. Wright is currently showing at London’s ICA.
MORE PLAUDITS go to the makers of a rotational moulded plastic chair, interestingly named chasm. Designed by Will White and Katarina Bara of Glasgow's One Foot Taller, the chair in question was awarded 'best new product’ by the design magazine Blueprint at London's 100% Design.
PRE-TURNER ANXIETY is clearly kicking in. Waldermar Janusczak in The Sunday Times did not beat about the bush: ’. . . if these sexist, crude, misjudged, San-insulting, Madonna-bashing, woman- denigrating, posturing, pretentious, dumb paintings, propped up on their silly balls of ordure, win this year's Turner Prize, then it really is time for a national visit to the optician.’ He is talking Chris Ofili, this year’s favourite, so perhaps we will become a nation of four-eyes. The Turner Prize show opens at London’s Tate Gallery on 28 October.
MEANWHILE PRE-MILLENNIUM anticipation is being mobilised with the publication of cream by Phaidon Press. Described as being like no other art book and a ’revolutionary publishing venture', cream is a ’fabulous sexy book [that] features 100 artists for the 21$t century'. To further whip up the PR creamy
f froth, simultaneous launch parties are taking place across Britain on
‘ Thursday 15 October. And you too . could be there. See page 112 for our
reader offer that will enable you to
join in the festivities at Glasgow's CCA.
Real Life/Spiritual Gold: Ross Sinclair gets reality