REVIEW FILM BOBBY NIVEN: HERMIT’S CASTLE, CHEZ GALIP Sierra Metro, Edinburgh, until Sun 12 Dec ●●●●●
Film diptych Hermit’s Castle and Chez Galip brings together two geologically extreme landscapes in which two characters, an architect in Scotland and a potter in Turkey, have erected idiosyncratic structures.
Hermit’s Castle journeys to cold,
austere cliffs in the north of Scotland to explore, in the gusting sleet, the exposed outcrop at Achmelvich, where David Scott built a small concrete castle in 1955. The camera circumnavigates the structure, penetrates its claustrophobic interior and zooms out to diminish its grandeur leaving it fragile atop the tall cliff face as foamy waves break against its escarpment. The accompanying sound reverberates in hermetic solitude. In an equally stark landscape, here
with welcoming arid warmth, Chez Galip is a study of a cave in the central Turkish village if Avanos, Cappadocia, famous for its fairy chimneys and earthenware pottery. Fifth generation potter Galip Körükçü, who throws clay with deft ease – mesmerising, almost erotically – is the founder of the visceral hair museum which houses a collection of 16,000 hair clippings obtained from women who visited his workshop. Without a word, the film captures the charisma of our protagonist and instills a sense of the milieu complete with humorous moments where the camera rests on his own thinning head of wild hair. Glasgow-based artist Bobby Niven
uses the artisan offerings of these two inventors to interrogate the psychological motivations behind the reshaping of their unique landscapes. The result is a comparative corporeal study of vertiginous indulgence with a pitch perfect cinematic aesthetic. (Talitha Kotzé)
REVIEW DRAWINGS, PAINTINGS & ETCHINGS BLUE AND SILVER: WHISTLER AND THE THAMES Hunterian Gallery, Glasgow, until Sat 8 Jan ●●●●● This superbly executed exhibition builds a narrative around a major work in James McNeill Whistler’s oeuvre. ‘Blue and Silver’ depicts the old Battersea Bridge as it stands tall against the ethereal night-time skyline of the river. Brush strokes of a restrictive blue palette echo the horizon of the river and amplify the circular silver light of the clock tower in the full moon. Painted on the reverse of an oriental screen, it is rendered in his distinctive muted washes, applied not too thickly, but rather, in the artist’s own words ‘like breath on the surface of a pane of glass’.
Kunisade whom he admired.
Elsewhere in the exhibition are drawings, lithographs, etchings, watercolours and oil paintings depicting life on the riverbanks, the water itself ebbing and flowing between backdrop and focus. A major motif throughout is of course Battersea bridge, one of the last remaining wooden bridges on the Thames. Whistler recorded it obsessively while he was living in London in the 1860s and here viewers can see the specific structure during different tides and most notably at dusk as part of his nocturne series which rendered atmospheric and evocative night scenes in muted tonal explorations. His house on Lindsey Row in Chelsea, an area popular with artists and writers at the time, had great southerly views of the river.
Surrounding this pioneering use of a dressing screen In contrast to his contemporaries – notably Charles
is a number of works and objects that tell the story of Whistler’s transition from French realism to an aestheticism that was heavily influenced by the art of the Far East. He had an impressive collection of blue and white porcelain, books, fans and woodcuts of 19th century Japanese printmakers such as Hiroshige and Dickens who sketched a rather bleak picture of the river’s pestilential waters associated with suicide, disease and prostitution – Whistler captured the beauty of the smog-laden industrialised landscape at a time when the old way of life waned and the imminent modern world filled the horizon. (Talitha Kotzé)
REVIEW PRINTMAKING MYTHS AND LEGENDS: FROM THE ANCIENT TO THE MODERN Edinburgh Printmakers, until Thu 23 Dec ●●●●●
Myths and Legends is an all-you-can-eat buffet of printmaking encompassing a vast range of techniques. Enticing images creep out into the stairwell, and the main rooms are filled to the brim with ever more imaginative takes on the theme, including a tenuously linked etched group portrait of rock legends Fleetwood Mac, whose title references their biggest-selling album, Rumours. The walls are so busy that you could be forgiven for missing the impact of an
individual artist. But then you look again and find yet another hidden gem such as the only mezzotint in the whole display, by Rona Maclean, or Robin Spark’s beautifully intricate lithograph ‘Apocalypse’. If this seems too dark a subject matter to take home (all pieces are for sale in this pre-Christmas showcase), you might give consideration to one of Douglas Gray’s humorous, yet meticulous, screenprints such as ‘Dog Fish’. One of the attractions of such a collection is to explore how each artist approached
the brief. While certain artists looked at well-known mythological creatures such as mermen (witness the beautiful etchings by Peter Standen), others invented their own monsters (for instance Rachel Everrit’s Nit Not and Durian). It is hard to say whether the cumulative effect is too much, or just enough to keep a visitor occupied – at times it leans more toward shop than gallery, but then this is the season for retail. (Miriam Sturdee)
2–16 Dec 2010 THE LIST 89