DIGITAL PAINTING OSSIAN: FRAGMENTS OF ANCIENT POETRY
Gallery, Edinburgh, Fri 4 Oct-Sun 9 Feb
Calum Colvin’s work tends to catch viewers off guard. His images are photographs of tableaux constructed from found bits and bobs and painted over, weaving together disparate disciplines to form complex, allusion-packed visual puzzles that demand close inspection and closer reading.
In his new show, Colvin has applied his tricksy working practice to a subject that has become a footnote in Scottish history, but which was
Na Dogs, 2002
the literary scandal of its day: the poems of Ossian, as translated, embellished and re-authored by James MacPherson. ‘lt’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite a long time, since the mid 805,’ Colvin says, explaining the genesis of his latest project. ‘I started hearing little murmurs, and I remember a new edition of Ossian’s poems was published. That sparked my imagination. I hadn’t heard about the whole Ossian thing before, and was surprised that something that had such a profound effect across the world, something that was such a big phenomenon, could be forgotten in contemporary times. I’m really more interested in the context than the content of the poems.’
That context fits neatly with themes explored by Colvin in past work, not least the way in which his images muddy the waters of authorship, just as MacPherson expanded on fragments of poetry and presented completed versions as the work of Ossian. ‘The notion of authorship is one of the things that l was interested in,’ says Colvin. ‘Especially when it comes to
always apparent. I’ve always been in an odd area between painting and photography, and I’ve always been interested in using that blurred boundary to try and explore other parts of the psyche, to get the viewer involved in deconstructing the image and getting them to think about the ambiguity of the images.’
Echoing the controversy surrounding MacPherson and his authorship of Ossian’s works, Colvin has blurred that line even further by presenting the works, which are printed digitally onto canvas, as if they were paintings.
As with Colvin’s previous portrait of Robert Burns, questions of Scottish identity are central to the new work. ‘There are so many contradictions in Scotland’s culture, Scotland’s psyche, Scotland’s past,’ he says. ‘You can’t look at Scotland’s history without seeing it as some sort of fractured mirror. You can never see the complete picture and you never know what is true because of the way history has been manipulated through the centuries. These things are fascinating, and all I'm trying to do is make visual allegories based on those notions.’ (Jack Mottram)
photography, where the stamp of the author isn’t
GROUP SHOW HAMMERTOWN
Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 5 Oct-23 Nov
Don't worry. this isn't the return of MC Hammer as he prepares to launch himself, Captain Beefheart style. in a new artistic direction. Hammertown is actually the small fishing pon on Vancouver Island. British Columbia. mentioned by French writer Georges Perec in his wonderful novel Life. 8 User's Manual as a place of beauty and despondency
Rich for analogical picking, Hammertown was chosen by curator Reid Shier as a way of alluding to the sense of alienation those from Vancouver and its Surrounds feel about their own landscape. In other words. let's bring on the west side massive - eight of the most interesting artists currently working on Canada's west coast.
The line-up is impressive and if you don't know these artists' work now. yOu soon WI”. It covers all mediums
and deals with themes that range from the rustic to the sacred and profane. The eight are Brian Jungen. Geoffrey Farmer. Myfanwy MacLeod. Luanne Martineau. Damian Moppett. Euan lvlacdonald. Shannon Oksanen and Kevin Schmidt.
‘I think it's an interesting group of artists that have been put together. Their practices are quite different but I think there are a lot of intersections.’ says Myfanwy Macleod. trying to contextualise this
hugely ambitious. fascinating project.
‘A lot of the work coming out of the younger generation of Vancouver artists at the moment deals with aspects of rustic surrealism or conceptual folk art.‘
Her own work is scatological and deals with idealised recreations of the pastoral. 'It's that thing of making analogies of being an artist in a city and being a hillbilly.‘ she says.
MacLeod believes that her biggest influence (other than Monty Python and teIeViSion) is the great Canadian
Myfanwy MacLeod: Love to Love, 2002
artist Rodney Graham: 'He did this work called City Self/Country Self that really struck a cord with me. It's a piece abOuI the provincial dandy in the City. which is exactly the way Canadians often feel towards the mothership of New York culture.‘ (Paul Dale)
News from the world of art
MALCOLM FRASER Architects wins the new RIAS Award for Architecture this month for Dance Base, Edinburgh, receiving £25,000 in prize money. The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland launched the award in March this year with the promise of rewarding innovation and design excellence. All shortlisted buildings - Stirling Tolbooth, Mount Stuart Visitor’s Centre, Isle of Bute, Graham Square, New Build 3, Glasgow, and the New Byre Theatre, St Andrews - were strong candidates, but Dance Base pipped them to the post for its ‘innovative use of natural light . . . it is a building which embraces everyone’.
Dance Base scoops the top prize
A CONTENDER FOR NEXT YEAR could be the 10.er new independent bookshop for architecture and deSign. Design Beyo/io lipids. recently opened on Blair Street. Edinburgh. Its stylish Cun'es pay homage to its product. and architect. Oll‘.’€f Chapman. has already won acclaim for his design of the Edinburgh gallen. doggerfisher.
THE GALLERY OF MODERN Art, Glasgow, needs you. If you are a visual artist with a bit of spare time and would be interested in facilitating a series of workshops with asylum seekers and refugees, let them know. The scheme is part of a major SAC lottery-funded project, Sancfury, to encourage opportunities of social inclusion for Scotland’s asylum seekers. For more information contact Katie Bruce on 0141 553 2557.
EDINBURGH'S COLLECTIVE Gailen has a tempOrary shop in -ts premises. It's full of funky little accessories and great for — dare we say it? Christmas presents. Whatever: get yourself something nice'.
ENTRIES HAVE JUST CLOSED for the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts 141st Annual Exhibition. Over 1200 works were submitted for only 400 places. Selected works will be in the running for the £12,500 prize winning money for 12 awards and are on display at the McLellan Galleries, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow Sun 27 Oct-Sun 17 Nov.
<~’: ' Oct EUC.‘ THE LIST 93