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Digging her scene: Anne Bevan gets to grips with Meggat Reservoir

Ever wondered what lurks below the pavement or been fascinated by manholes? ANNE BEVAN certainly has and the results of her explorations are now on show. Words: Susanna Beaumont

Look at the ground beneath your feet. Take a particular look at manholes. Strange name in a way: holes for men. And then there are man-covers, they are often called fanciful names, very-male names like Trojan. Anne Bevan, for one, is particularly taken by these man-covers. ‘They are like seals or plugs. Bandages protecting a hole, rather like an elastoplast.’

In undercover/uncovered at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Bevan is going public with her curiosity. Showing in conjunction with Bevan is Graeme Todd, who is exhibiting a new series of paintings called Mount Hiddenabyss. It forms the second part of Visions For The Future, the gallery’s three-year long project to commission new work by artists in Scotland.

In truth, Bevan has long been fascinated with underground spaces. Born in Orkney, where many of the islands are riddled with chambered tombs, the attraction set in at an early age. Now in her early 305, she wanted to get beneath the skin of the pavement. ‘One day I saw them digging up the street to relay

Anne Bevan

'One day I saw them digging up the street for cabling. It was a wonderful image, seeing some guy halfway into the ground. I thought 'I want to do that'.’

pipes. It was a wonderful image, seeing some guy halfway into the ground. I thought ‘I want to do that’.’

This led Bevan to approach East of Scotland Water who gave her access and the obligatory hard hat to a host of tunnels and, in particular, Meggat Reservoir which lies 28 miles to the south of Edinburgh. ‘I suppose I am curious about aspects of everyday life which we take for granted,’ she confesses. ‘Reservoirs which eventually supply our taps; essential things which are so much part of a daily routine that we hardly notice them, unless they eak or drip or burst.’

Back in the gallery, Bevan has made quite a mark. She has brought in, courtesy of a mixer, nineteen tons of concrete which has flooded the floor of the lower gallery. Elsewhere, a video runs showing the interior workings of Meggat Reservoir. There’s the ‘Control Gallery’, the ‘Arched Tunnel’, which runs under the reservoir. And, of course, men in shiny, luminous jackets. But what’s that sound; a dripping tap? Drip . . . drip . . . drip. Has a pipe burst?

For that matter, the material that water pipes are made from also fascinates Bevan. Over the centuries, wood has given way to lead, to iron, to concrete and now, to plastic (or polyethylene to be specific). ‘I want to alert us to what we are walking on,’ says Bevan who points out that Edinburgh’s pipes are currently being changed to polyethylene. ‘It is like an excavation, finding out about the circulation system that is under the ground.’ So start thinking about what lurks beneath your feet.

Visions Of The Future is at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 19 Feb-Sat 25 Mar.

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News and views from the world of art THE LAW FIRM, Archibald Campbell and Harley have joined forces with the Scottish Arts Council and Edinburgh's Stills Gallery to establish a new £5000 photography prize. The annual award will be presented to a Scottish-based photographer with the most potential for development over the next twelve months. Open to emerging and established artists working in photography or digital imagery, submission forms will be available from mid-April. CUSTARD IS NOT the pudding accompaniment that it once was. The rise of fromage frais and other fancy delights have somewhat ousted the hearty yellow sloppy sauce. However, it is far from forgotten. The Changing Room in Stirling is kicking off its experimental art season with a show called Deep In This Custard. Featuring four artists, it seems that the experimental aspect is not being taken lightly. Fred Pedersen will attempt to make a time machine out of chipboard while Michael Wilkinson is presenting a sculpture of his record collection. The show runs from Saturday 19 February to Friday 17 March and let’s hope that the custard doesn't get lumpy. GILBERT AND GEORGE are the art world’s famed double-act with a fine line in bespoke suits. And they also know how to tipple. At Dundee Contemporary Arts' Dream Machines, the duo a po-faced variation of Morecambe and Wise are shown on video drinking gin with the utmost decorum, slowly repeating the words ‘Gordon's makes us very drunk.’ It obviously has got to be Gordon’s. IT IS STILL to be announced which artists selected for the British Art Show are to exhibit where. Kicking off in Edinburgh during April, we wait to hear but it is good to see that the Scottish Arts Council has recently awarded the event £27,878 to fund various complementary activities. THE GROUCHO SAINT Jude's Postcard Auction is to be held on Monday 28 February at 8pm in the Glasgow School of Art. Work by Callum Innes, Julie Roberts, David Shrigley and others will be sold to raise funds for students travelling to New York.

In the custard: Stirling gets experimental at The Changing Room

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