VisualArt HITLIST THE BEST EXHIBITIONS
Scottish National Portrait Gallery The national portrait collection reopens after a three-year refurbishment with innovations including a photography gallery, a new education centre and an exhibition of contemporary figures entitled ‘Hot Scots’. See feature, page 14. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, from Wed 30 Nov.
Thea Djordjadze: Lost Promise in a Room Striking sculptures made from simple materials by Berlin-based artist Thea Djordjadze. See review, page 119. The Common Guild, Glasgow, until Sat 26 Nov.
Gayle Chong Kwan: The Obsidian Isle Large-scale photographs of Scotland’s lost places, set on a fictional island. See Artbeat, right. Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, until Sun 11 Dec. Bill Bollinger Lovingly sourced retrospective of work by the aeronautical engineer turned minimalist sculptor. See review, page 119. Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 8 Jan.
The Scottish Colourist Series: FCB Cadell Retrospective that lays bare the development of the Scots artist’s skills. See review, page 119. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Two, Edinburgh, until Sun 18 Mar. Alasdair Gray: City Recorder Works by the acclaimed painter and novelist, including a large selection of works from Gray’s spell as ‘artist recorder’ for the city in 1977. Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, until Aug 2012.
Group Show Commendable group show that brings together new work by nine Glasgow-based artists including Sam Derounian and Conor Kelly. See review, page 119. Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, until Sat 26 Nov.
Torsten Lauschmann: Startle Reaction The biggest solo show to date from the German artist uses technology to explore systems of belief. See picture caption, page 122. Dundee Contemporary Arts, until Sun 8 Jan.
Alison Watt: Hiding in Full View The Scottish painter unveils new work inspired by the late Francesca Woodman’s visceral photography. Reviewed next issue. Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 28 Jan.
Graham Fagen: Missing Film work created in response to the National Theatre of Scotland’s adaptation of Andrew O’Hagan’s The Missing. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Thu 1 Dec–Sat 31 Mar.
118 THE LIST 17 Nov–15 Dec 2011
ARTBeat GAYLE CHONG-KWAN
The Obsidian Isle documents a fictional island on which exist Scotland’s lost and destroyed places. What inspired this? As part of a photography award I received in 2009 I had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Scotland. I was struck by the influences from other cultures as well as the distinct identity and histories that have shaped the landscape. I became fascinated by Ossian, the blind 3rd century poet ‘discovered’ by James Macpherson in the 18th Century, who was influential in the development of ideas of the Highland and Scottish landscapes and notions of ‘Scottish identity’ at home and abroad. What images appear in these works? The ten large- scale photographs feature many lost and ruined places: from settlements forcibly abandoned or left during the Highland Clearances; to the Tait Tower, a 300ft-high art deco structure constructed at the summit of the hill in Bellahouston Park as part of the Empire Exhibition in 1938, demolished in 1939, allegedly because it would be a beacon for enemy bombers. The works are constructed from medium-format photographs and objects gathered from around Scotland, found images and three-dimensional elements, which are re-made as mise-en-scènes of vistas looking out from Ossian’s cave.
What made you want to be a photographer? I first started working with large-format photography for my 2004 series ‘Cockaigne’, when I became interested in the tourist or theatrical gaze and allowing the viewer to travel through the photographic image. Landscape can involve an alternation of expansion and contraction, and for me this links up with the ebb and flow of memory.
■ The Obsidian Isle, Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, until Sun 11 Dec. gaylechongkwan.com