National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 5 Sep 0...

It’s a cliché but sometimes the best things really do come in small packages - tiny ones with satin linings and velvet backings, leather cases, bronze hinges and clasps. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is showing over 70 of its impressive collection of portrait miniatures in conjunction with new, specially commissioned work by contemporary painter Moyna Flannigan. The private nature of a portrait miniature, often no more than a couple of inches high, adds an irresistible air of mystery to the pendants, snuff boxes and miniatures.

At their emergence in the 16th century such miniatures were the reserve of nobility and often used by kings and queens to test or reveal loyalty; later they could be shared among the upper middle- classes the Mr Darcys of this


Untitled 2004

world. One of the earliest portraits on display here is an exquisitely delicate portrait of James VI and l, the son of Mary Queen of Scots painted on vellum. His bright blue jacket is still vivid and his features clear, while just around the corner lurks a more unflattering picture of that royal usurper Oliver Cromwell. The brown-hued painting has become an icon for

Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Fri 4 Jun 0000.

Martin Boyce's first show at the Modern Institute is well

worth the wait. Continuing the themes first seen at his 2003 Tramway show. Boyce here returns to his imagined urban park. Where the Tramway show relied on dim lighting and flickering neon to evoke the threat of twilight. Boyce has turned the small gallery space to his advantage by sticking

to a menacing scale.

A huge swing frame. dubbed This is where we meet. dominates the space. A torn scrap of mesh fencing hangs from it. counter-balanced by stiff metal branches and a weather-beaten sweatshirt. This is echoed in the next room. where another metal branch has caught a ruined T-shirt. In

the opening that divides the two gallery spaces. there's a metal gate. with a jerry-rigged extension in yellow tubing

and mesh. This last explicitly liminal piece serves as something of a summary. Looking at this new work is like


getting stuck half way through the fence between true ... adolescent memory and Boyce's filtered version. a place

where familiar municipal objects are re-engineered through

art history as representing the original warts’n’all portrait. He wasn’t a pretty chap. But the honesty is something that is unique to these private images never intended for wider prying eyes.

Across the hall and hung with similar modesty and equal curiosity are the portraits of Moyna Flannigan’s imagination. And while the historical gems are precise images of likeness, Flannigan’s are looser, lighter flights of fancy where clouds of white hair float in the vellum and severely plucked eyebrows dart across the surface - pursed, tight red lips providing a vivid nub in ethereal washes of pale colour. Her characters betray a certain melancholy, humour and faded grandeur of Colette-style poignancy, but the most touching are those of dead children. Before photography and when infant mortality was much higher it was common to paint a deceased child. The little pale face of one boy is heartbreaking in its fragility and vulnerability and shows Flannigan’s sensitivity at its most raw. (Ruth Hedges)

Reclining Figure by Massimo Franco

LONDON CALLING Mansfield Park Gallery, Glasgow, until Wed 9 Jun

Despite the divisive punk nature of the title. this show is

modernist design references. There is. too. a thick seam of self-reference running through the work here. Two enamelled metal panels pick up the angles of the branch structures. The gate. with its angled grid structure seen often in Boyce‘s prints does the same.

If you're familiar with Boyce's work. this show will trigger new responses to past installations. If you're not. it's a chance to see the artist at his most confident and compelling. (Jack Mottram)

Brushing Against Strange Weeds

90 THE LIST 2/ May It) Jun 2004

actually born of the most traditional media. Featuring work by five young artists at the Prince of Wales Drawing School in Shoreditch, each is connected by the fact that they went directly there following courses of study in Glasgow.

The exhibition includes painting. drawing and etching work and the most immediate theme is an exploration of the artists' new adoptive home (or former and regained home). Both Henry Gibbons Guy and David Caldwell offer proficient Oil landscapes informed by the scenery and landmarks of the city. with Caldwell in particular defining the richness and vibrancy of London at various points during the day. As gifted as these renditions are. however. Li/a Dimbleby's works are all the more bounding in atmosphere for their apparent lack of technical sophistication. Basic pencil scribbles offer a snapshot of rush hour street life. with anonymous faces. snatched glances of street signs and ha/y but distinctive detail combining as the sketchbook equivalent of shooting from the hip. It doesn't look like much. but it offers plenty.

Elsewhere. a collection of large oils and smaller etchings by Massimo Franco and Diana Leslie's suggestive pencil sketch Massacre of the Innocents. with its ha/y. corkscrewing lines fill out the show admirably. It might not be mould-breaking. then. but it's a glimpse of five truly talented artists at the start of hopefully fruitful careers. (David Pollock)



Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 7 Nov 0000

Enchanting the Eye does exactly that. Over :30 of the finest ()XEtll‘l)I()8 of 17th century Dutch paintings from the Royal Collection have been brought together. Sewing as a neat and accessible introduction to this popular period in European art. it also provrdes a social document of that age. Freir portraits and still life to landscapes and genre scenes. to see such iconic works close-up is a rare treat. There are three important works by Rembrandt. including an exquisite study of old age in the portrait An Old Iii/oman (“The Artist 8 Mother}. Her eyes are sunken. her lips pursed. and the vies/er is drax'in to her

A Woman at her Toilet by Jan Steen

features through Reri‘brandt's expert handling of the light. F-'\.'(>"\. fold in the skin is Visible and ll‘OIlCUIOllSIy detailed. as is the treatment of the garments that fi‘aiiie her face. Jan Steen's allegorical painting A l‘/oman a? ne" [oi/e: depicts a ‘.‘.’()ll‘£tll partially undressed. perched on her unmade bed. \."\./e are kept at ai‘iit's length and away I'Oll‘ teiiiptat'on. seenig her through an arched doorway.

Of the man; \.'./()nderfu| paintings on show. Vermeer's A ladv at the Virgina/s wrth a Gentleman ithere are only 3.1 of his paintings in eXistencei. Adrraen van Ostade's scenes of peasant life and Mara van Ooster'\.-~.r§.'ck's still lifes with flowers all stand out. But one particular favourite is Nicolae Maes' The t istermg Housemte. 'l'he ir‘ain subject of the painting. the housewife. stares d.rectl\,' at the \'ie\.'.'ei'. sharing her secret \.'.’!III us, In the background. a couple steal a l\ ss in the darkness. Should she disturb their‘ and spoil their fun’;> That's the 'rioi'al dilen‘ina. {Helen Moriaghani