ART reviews

From the land own under; Brett Vallance’s Sexpo on show at the Collective

Scotland and Australia Glasgow and Edinburgh: various venues and times.

Australian culture hasn't exactly blown its own didgeridoo on this side of the world. Sure, there's Neighbours and Rolf Harris, Dame Edna and Skippy, and even Australian theme bars if you must. But aside from the wave of contemporary film in the 705 and occasional slices of Aboriginal art, there’s not been any serious artistic export of note.

Since 1996 however, an exchange programme has developed between Australian and Scottish artists that this month sees works from both sides of the world sit side by side in three galleries. Edinburgh's Stills Gallery houses The Queen Is Dead, while Hot In The City takes place at the Collective, with Where The Wild Roses Grow at Glasgow's Transmission.

'lt's a project that started perfectly naturally,’ according to Toby Webster of the Glasgow-based art agency, The Modern Institute, who has worked on the project since its early days and is curating the Stills show. 'There was already a great deal of to-ing and fro- ing between Scotland and Australia, which resulted in a research trip to Australia. What we found were a lot of galleries with very similar attitudes to here, in as much

as they were very open, so we immediately responded to that.’

The result is these three shows. 'lnstead of becoming shows about a particular national identity, it's about art,’ Webster continues. 'I think artists from Scotland are very wary of getting involved in shows that are about their collective Scottishness per se.’

Despite this, The Queen Is Dead, which brings together work by eight artists (four from each country), is a provocative title that has as much to do with cultural colonialism and self-determination in both nations as it has to do with The Smiths album of the same name. There’s also a nod to Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's duet that brought pop and the underground together in Transmission show title, Where The Wild Roses Grow.

'I want people to interpret the title as they will,’ says Webster. 'The show is making a statement in a way, in that it’s developed organically rather than someone coming into a gallery and 'doing’ Australian art before moving onto the next thing.’ (Neil Cooper)

The Queen Is Dead, Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, Fri 5 Mar-Sat 24 Apr Hot In The City, Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 6 Mar-Fri 9 Apr Where The Wild Roses Grow, Transmission Gallery; Glasgow, Tue 9 Mar-Tue 23 Mar.

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Donald Urquhart Glasgow: Fly Gallery until Sun 28 Mar

was a chance to have ’two and half months to think’. In Three excerpts from a column of serenity, three grey canvases bear the words 'Still, Calm,

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78 THEUST 4—18 Mar 1999

Landscape artist Donald Urquhart has landed in Fly Gallery With a show reflecting more than two months of northern exposure in Iceland. Urquhart, the man who Single- handedly reclaimed the term ’dreich' as a badge of Scottish pride, has spent recent years feverishly producmg work in paint, glass, and photography and sound which has transformed the possibilities of the Scottish landscape as well as increasmg the nation's consumption Of grey paint. This is his first ShOWIng of a new body of work which he terms his ’lcelandic phase’.

There's a thread running through much of Scottish literature that has been described as 'Zen Calvmism’, likeWise With some art For an artist with a serious dose of the work ethic, Urquhart admits that the trip

QUiet’. It describes well the atmosphere of the gallery space as well as referring to the artist's state Of mind in Iceland.

Landed, the show's title, is in effect, an installation in which indiwdual pieces - paintings on canvas and glass and a floor-base photocopy installation - form a coheswe whole grounded in the artist’s determination to 'record a moment in time, a pomt of actuality’. Landscape photographs or sketches form the baSIS of work that is abstracted, fragmented and then frequently multiplied using a grid system. Urquhart is fascmated by maps, by weather systems and by the minutiae of landscape as well as the grand sweep.

Take a deep breath of lcelandic air. (MOira Jeffrey)


Duncan Bremner 8: Kirsty Shanks

Edinburgh: Bongo Club until Wed 31 Mawww

Two exhibitions for the price of one here, as there’s no real connection between Duncan Bremner's appro- priations of light and Kirsty Shanks's black and white photos of her native Australia save sharing the same gallery space.

Bremner's chunky light boxes sit alongside after-hours shafts of neon caught on film. Gathered together, a spooky city 'tripscape’ is created; though, somewhat ironically, a more intense mood would’ve been captured if the exhibition space itself had been imbued with subtler, more sympathetic thhng.

Shanks's pictures, meanwhile, document a less colourful side of the city in this case Victoria. Grafitti- strewn walls imply a rough-shod, topsy-turvy state of flux that highlights both the decay of the old order and the confusing influences of the new. An exhibition of light and shade in everyway. (Neil Cooper)

City To City Glasgow: Street Level until Sat 20 Mar x w a

In this collaboration between Patrick Jameson and Andrew Whitaker, the two artists reveal a fascmation with urban spaces. They have collected not only images but also sounds of the City. The soundtrack is less urban white noise than the mutter of grey cement and the breeze block.

Photographed in a number of locations, the work explores the dense texture and structure of the city: the hoardings, the road signs and the tattered fly-posting. City To City shows how the ClIy speaks to itself in a play between street-lighting, seCurity cameras and the concierge's office. in one of the most striking images, the isolated balcony gardens on the face of a tower block immediately catch the eye. An aeroplane overhead seems inCIdental, trivial in comparison to the stealth of the plant life creeping into the concrete Jungle. (Mona Jeffrey)

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City To City by Patrick Jameson and Andrew Whitaker