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Say it with flowers
She has created giant daisy chains and coated walls with chocolate. ANYA GALLACCIO is one of Britain’s most engaging artists, and she is back in Glasgow. Susanna Beaumont
They say you shouldn’t work with children or animals: Anya (iallaccio was told that working with flowers was similarly inady isahle. ln spurning the so— called heayyweights of stone and steel and opting instead to create giant daisy chains. (iallaccio was laying hersell open to accusations of either being a leftoy er oils ‘t’low er girl‘. or someone who had fallen foul of the church rota and was content to do natty things with dahlias.
Nothing could be further from the truth. (iallaccio has nayigated the sometimes perilous path between the one-time boy's own art terrain and »~ shock! horror! -- feminity. the domestic and ideas of beauty. liy en a decade or so back when she was studying in London. it was a route that was far from populated. Today notions of feminity are on a little more of an eyen keel with feminism. Not that Gallaccio is just out to make political points -- more that her work cannot be easily consigned to a giyen category. She is an artist who has dodged easy definition. whether she‘s coating a room in chocolate. creating flower chains from gerberas. lining up numerous kettles and putting them on to boil. or placing a giant block of ice in a room and letting it defrost.
'I am not romanticising the past. Romanticism is more
about a sense of vision and being idealistic.’ Anya Gallaccio
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Floral tribute: Anya Gallaccio’s Towards The Rainbow Born in Paisley in the early (i()s and brought up in
(ilasgow until the age of four. when her family
moyed to London. Gallaccio still does not think of
herself as English. ‘I always say I am from Glasgow. though there is nothing about me that is Glaswegian. whateyer that means.’ she says. Now she is back in (ilasgow working on an installation commissioned by
'l‘ramway. With Tramway currently being refurbished.
Gallaccio had to eye up a yenue for her work -- the opulent former High Court in lngram Street. which is in the throes of being transformed into a series of bars and clubs.
l-lere (iallaccio is creating a ‘liying carpet'. Research into patterns produced by Glasgow‘s Templeton Carpet Factory lead her to select a design
from the 1870s. ‘The imagery of carpets with their
floral patterns is derived from the idea of the paradise garden.‘ says (iallaccio. who has blown up a section of the design and used it as a template for her carpet. which is planted with flowers and grasses. lt's entitled (i/usr/m. the Gaelic root of Glasgow. meaning ‘dear green place'.
If all this smacks too much of Romanticism. then (iallaccio is keen to answer back. ‘I am not romanticising the past.’ she says. ‘Romanticism is more about a sense of vision and being idealistic. That's what I mourn the loss of.‘ Taught by her liberal parents that one should expect and want to change the world - or at least a small bit of the world — for the better. (iallaccio belieyes Margaret Thatcher ended all that. ‘She took off in a direction that I had not anticipated.‘ says the artist.
Gallaccio may not be re-creating a little bit of paradise on earth. but she feeds the senses and fuels curiosity — and vision — iii a post-'l‘hatcher age.
Glaschu is at Tramway @ The Old Court House, 191 Ingram Street, Glasgow Thu 11 Mar-Sun 25 Apr. Anya Gallaccio is showing Towards The Rainbow in Prime at Dundee Contemporary Arts from Sat 20 Mar-Sun 9 May.
Views and news of the art scene
NEWS IS THAT Edinburgh's National Gallery and its neighbouring Royal Scottish Academy are to be overhauled in a £18m project. For a long time the aim of National Galleries' director, Timothy Clifford, the plan to extend and refurbish the two galleries will apparently open the way for blockbuster touring exhibitions by such art stars as Monet. But let's hope the National Galleries don't turn into too much of a receiving house for world tour art shows. With the opening of a further 'branch' in March with the Dean Gallery in Edinburgh, it would be good to see the Galleries initiate and curate more of their own shows, particularly of work by contemporary Scotland-based artists.
DUNDEE CONTEMPORARY ARTS (DCA), a new £9m centre for contemporary art and film, is to open on 20 March with a programme of exhibitions that kicks off with a group show featuring among others Callum Innes and Kiki Smith. This is followed by a show of work by London-based artist Ian Davenport, a new installation by Olafur Eliasson and, in November, an exhibition devoted to the Glasgow-based, Turner shortlisted Christine Borland. It looks as if the DCA is set to rev-up the tempo of Scotland's contemporary art scene. More next issue.
CURIOSITY ABOUNDS OVER lnverleith House in Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden and its preposed Festival show. Last year the famed ’pile of bricks‘ American artist Carl Andre produced a knockout show, so one wonders if this year it'll be a woman of equal stature from across the pond. Maybe Agnes Martin, Louise Bourgeois or perhaps Cindy Sherman. A case of wait and see.
A GROUP OF ARTISTS are taking over a soon-to-be-demolished warehouse in Leith. The eight artists, including Kevin Dagg and Susan Mowatt, are siting work in Victoria Dock’s Oceaneering Multiflex building prior to its clearance to make way for a proposed ocean terminal. The show runs from 14 March to 3 April.
New arrival: Dundee Contemporary Arts which opens in March