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Jack Mottram explores the artistic phenomena of VACANT SHOP FRONT that

Changes its dressing every other Sunday.

f you go by volume alone. since its launch in 2002

the Vacant Shop liront project has exposed more

people to more new work by more emerging artists than any other exhibition space in Glasgow.

‘liverything we do is about re-engaging with orphaned spaces. injecting artistic activity of some kind into them. exposing the process of making art and breaking down boundaries between artists and the public] says Amy Sales of limergel). the artist collective behind the project.

On the street. this succinct summary translates into huddles of bleary-eyed clubbers holding impromptu pavement seminars. hurried commuters breaking into a smile as they pass by. or cab drivers pointing out the latest installation to passengers.

As well as reaching out to a wide audience. VSl“ offers artists a way of working that can produce unexpected results. 'The Shop Front is a space for , experimentation.‘ Sales explains.

'A good example is Amy Smith.

To begin with she was really enjoying herself. but then she began to struggle. In the end. she wrote a note that began. “Dear Public . an intimate apology for not being able to finish. That just seemed perfect to me even though she had problems. Amy ended tip communicating with the public. in a way she couldn‘t have done elsewhere.‘

By way of contrast. Sales points to another recent contributor. Danny Holcroft. as an example of a more immediate success. Holcroft's piece. A Pryor‘t‘uputi'on Wit/i Insigii{fit-uncex (pictured). grew as he wrote


finicky descriptions of passers-by and nearby objects onto the shop window. ‘Danny really managed to communicate his ideas through the text he was

writing.~ Sales says. ‘And people felt a real sense of

ownership of the work. and gave a lot of feedback. 'l‘hat's probably one of the most successful projects. and Danny has been invited to show elsewhere as a result.‘

The last point is an important one. While it provides a steady stream of new work to the Glasgow public. VSl‘ also gives young artists a valuable opportunity to gain experience in showing work. ‘lt does give a taste of professional practice.‘ Sales confirms. ‘And it‘s also an opportunity for artists to simply meet tip. The handover of keys on a Sunday means that artists often end up exchanging ideas. or helping each other install.‘

launchpad for limergel). Recent

efforts include transforming another

vacant shop in Leeds. public art projects in Melbourne and Perth. Australia. and a major contribution to the Merchant City festival is at the planning stages. 'Even though we‘re now operating on an international level. the Vacant Shop Front is at the crux of what we do.‘ says Sales. ‘lt's all about working with emerging artists in unused spacesf

Vacant Shop Front has new shows every other Sunday and can be found at 18 Woodlands Road, Glasgow, 07947 749818.

PHOlOt‘xHM‘l l\


School of Art Atrium Gallery. Glasgow. Until Tue 7 Sep .00.

‘(slasgoxzf notes the sandwu‘h hoaitl outside a Merchant tiit'. put» in one ot this series of photographs hv Glasgow .ii‘ti ll .tlltl (liiotttor lioheit lltlllt‘l 'Whero some are horn great. some at‘hiove greatness. and some still lhrov.’ spears; at hiises' Spanish Harlem. it seems, has nothing on (‘zlasvegas

An affectionate and characterlul look at th) cities lr‘ottoi has known and loved. this show is the oiiil product of some months spent wanileiiiig tho streets of both in the lllltl Sills and shooting from the hip. llial might make tho images souiitl messier than they are. hut lrottei manages a high level of (:oiiiposilion and symmetry while still refusing to ask any of his subjects to pose. When he was young. lrottor explains, Glasgow represented the ultimate in glamour and romance compared Willi his homo town of [)umhartoii, while New York (Lily W()tlltl take on a similar role in later years.

So we see chililren ga/iiig at the camera iii curiosity. street performers caught at work, lonely looking commuters waiting for tho Metro/the Clockwork Orange. the shores of the Clyde and the fast River looking almost indistingiiishahle, and only the skycrapers and the unrnistakeahle iriiago of tho Flatiron Building to give us any sense of place. A labour of love. and one to he loved. (Davul Pollock)

Outside the Barras

26 Aug—9 Sep 2004 THE LIST 51