Ingenious Impressions – Hunterian

May 2nd, 2015

Quite recently I visited this exhibition which is in the Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow and I absolutely loved it.

The Exhibition draws on the extensive research of a five year project to catalogue the University of Glasgow’s collection of fifteenth century printed books and gives you a background to each of the books as well as explaining how they were produced, collected and then bequeathed to the University.

The exhibition space is dimly lit, which is to preserve the books, but the accompanying text panels are well lit and a clever use of mirrors allows you to see many of the ornate covers and bindings hidden beneath.

My particular favourites included the Roman Breviary, the Calendar and the Canon of Medicine. A Breviary is a liturgical book which contains prayers, hymns, psalms and readings for everyday use by both the clergy and the laity.  This one was printed in Venice in 1478 and was a special luxury copy printed on vellum and beautifully decorated.  It is believed to have been produced as a gift for Leonardo Botta, the Milanese ambassador to Venice, and the detailed images and brilliant colours are as impressive today as when they were created.  The Kalendarium (Calendar) by Erhard Ratdolt was also produced in Venice but the printer was German and he had moved to Venice attracted by the thriving intellectual scene.  He produced technically innovative publications and this calendar includes paper wheels which can still be turned today to show the motion of the moon. The Canon of Medicine was an encyclopaedia of medicine compiled around 1025 by a Persian philosopher known as Avicenna. Originally written in Arabic it was translated into many languages and it’s one of the most famous books in the history of medicine.  This copy too was printed in Venice and its decoration, known as illuminations, are by an artist known as Pico Master and are extremely lavish.  There are also many annotations (or notes) written next to the text throughout the book so it was obviously well used.

The aim of the project was to promote this collection to a wider audience and I’m convinced this has been achieved.  Many of the people I know who have visited the exhibition are not academics but are book lovers keen to look at early versions of their much beloved pursuit of reading. The information provided between each set of books is detailed and informative and I came away with a greater understanding of both the production as well as subject matter of early printed books. I also earned that very early printed books, produced in the fifteenth century, are known as incunables and was able to look at a working model of an early printing press.

As I said earlier, I loved it and I am sure you will too.

Visit before it closes on 21 June.  Admission is free so spend your saved cash on the gorgeous accompanying catalogue.

Let us know your thoughts if you’ve visited.

Pulse Project – London Road

May 2nd, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I took a tour organised by the Velocity Project which has been responsible for working in partnerships to provide a cultural response and long lasting legacy to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.  Part of this project includes PULSE, a series of artworks along London Road connecting Glasgow Green and the Barras Calton.  The tour took us to look at two of those permanent artworks.

The first piece we looked at was Cut From The Factory Floor by the artist Iain Kettles, who is a graduate of Glasgow School of Art.  Fabricated in Corten steel it stands as a roll of carpet slightly unfurling at the corner.  The artist used the Templeton Carpet Factory archives, which are stored by Glasgow School of Art, to look at patterns for the chenille carpets which were produced by the Templeton Factory and incorporated that pattern into his sculpture. The Templeton Factory building is just down the road from the sculpture and is an icon in Glasgow, having been modelled on the Doge’s Palace in Venice.  In its heyday from the 1850s to the 1960s it produced carpets for clients all around the world including the cruise liners built in the Glasgow shipyards and Mrs Abraham Lincoln also had a Templeton carpet in her home. It finished manufacturing in the 1980s and today the building houses offices, studios and homes, as well as a brewery and pub.

The sculpture’s pattern was created using water jets to slice through the steel to create the pattern.  The piece celebrates the rich industrial legacy of this part of the East End of Glasgow and the talented and creative workers employed in the Factory. We viewed the sculpture on a brilliantly sunny evening so the colours of the green trees and blue sky, viewed through the pattern, made it look very like a brightly patterned carpet.  It is an impressive and salutary reminder of Glasgow’s rich industrial heritage and ability to provide world class items for export around the world. It is also hard to believe, when you look from a distance, that it is made of steel and won’t unfurl and collapse to the floor. You will find the sculpture in Claythorn Park, on London Road, and it is visible from the road.  There are future plans to light it internally and I look forward to going back once that has been installed and see another version of this brightly patterned carpet.

We then walked back down London Road towards the Barras and the City Centre.  At Greendyke Square we found the installation by Jacqueline Donachie called Slow Down.  This piece began life as a project centred round the 100 day countdown to the start of the Commonwealth Games.  Slow Down involved 100 cyclists slowly travelling through the City with a small attachment on each bike which left a line of chalk on the ground resulting in a ribbon of colours along the Glasgow streets.
Jacqueline joined us on the tour, so we were able to ask lots of questions about the piece.  She was born in Glasgow and studied at Glasgow School of Art, completing a Masters of Fine Art at Hunter College in New York. This piece celebrates the interactive Slow Down project with permanent coloured lines of chalk surrounding the framework.  The sculptural steel framework is painted with a very bright and eye catching colour and it is so perfect we thought it had been machine painted.  However, Jacqueline told us it had all been hand painted – which was very impressive. The framework is a cross between a bike park and a railing to lean on and it is hoped people will use it as a meeting place and focal point.  If you are heading up towards the Barras you cannot miss it.

Both these installations celebrate Glasgow and I hope people will take a bit of time to have a look at them as they walk past.  If you spot them, let us know what you think.

Elvis in White

February 22nd, 2015

Niall Macdonald was born in the Outer Hebrides and graduated from the Glasgow School of Art.  He now lives and works in Glasgow and his latest exhibition, Elvis Nipple Plinth, is a solo exhibition at the Kendall Koppe Gallery.
We visited on Saturday and really liked the work, which yet again I’d discovered on social media (Twitter to be precise).  It’s not a very big exhibition, the Gallery space is only small, but you spend a lot of time trying to work out the links between each of the objects.  Apart from one piece, which sits on the far wall, there are two objects on each plinth, all created in white, and one object sits on top of the plinth and one on the front of the plinth.  E-Book Skull Plinth has a very small skull sitting on the plinth and an e-book reader on one side of the column.  We couldn’t decide if the skull represented the death of the book and the rise of the digital format, or if it was the artist’s thoughts about the impact of digital books.  By placing the objects out of context the artist manages to change their meaning and Niall is particularly interested in the concept of ‘must have’ objects, in particular technology.
The Elvis Nipple Plinth, the title of the show, has a bust of Elvis on the top with a teat, or nipple, attached to the plinth.  Make of these juxtapositions what you will but you will have fun doing it and come up with some interesting ideas.  The artist himself describes his Exhibition as more Space Odyssey than Elgin Marbles and the stark whiteness of the objects, plinth and gallery appear influenced by the Kubrick film which conicidentally was shown on BBC2 this weekend.
The Kendall Koppe Gallery is at 6 Dixon Street, just off St Enoch Square, so it’s very central and is open Wednesday to Saturday from 11.00am to 5.00pm.  Press the buzzer for the Gallery to gain entry and it’s on the first floor. You won’t be disappointed…

Bowes Museum

February 16th, 2015
Bowes Museum

Bowes Museum

I visited this Museum in Barnard Castle in County Durham for the first time this weekend after discovering it through social media.  What a unique and fantastic venue.  The building stands out in the market town of County Durham as it is built in the style of a French Chateau!  Helpful staff show you how to access the building and we started with a background to the Museum and its creators.  Appropriate for Valentine’s weekend, this is a story of the love of a couple and their combined love of the arts and collecting.  The Museum was built by them with the intention of housing their collection for the public to visit.  A very philanthropic project.

 

The art within the building is outstanding and some of my favourites included El Greco’s The Tears of St Peter; a classic blustery Boudin called Beach Scene at Low Tide; the portrait of Olive Boteler Porter which was recently discovered to be a genuine van Dyck panting; and a small atmospheric Goya titled Interior of a Prison.  The breadth of work is impressive, collected during John and Josephine’s time in Paris, and you gain a real understanding of the way in which  French art evolved to become to be a dominant force.  Although many of the art works are hung very high on the walls of the galleries, there are labels with images for each painting which means you don’t miss a thing.  As well as art there are galleries housing silver and metals, archaeological objects, toys, ceramics, furniture and textiles.  I really liked the recreations of the rooms as dining rooms, bedrooms and sitting rooms with the most fantastic items of French furniture.  Their fashion and textile collections are world renowned which his why you will find so many fashion exhibitions are held there.  Having supported their crowd funding project to restore their fifteenth century altarpiece I can now keep up to date with its progress on their blog.

 

As well as the main gallery spaces there are several temporary exhibition spaces.  These currently include the Birds of Paradise: Plumes and Feathers in Fashion exhibition which showcases breath-taking haute couture gowns including an amazing outfit by Thierry Mugler which greets you as you enter.  Another exhibition was Confected, Borrowed and Blue where artist Paul Scott has decorated familiar crockery and dinner ware with contemporary stories which include the Cockle Pickers Tea Service alongside plates with images of Gaza. You will also see work by Julian Opie scattered around the building including a walking woman who doesn’t seem to get very far and his cheeky version of the Manneken Pis as you enter! It is well worth the entry fee as you can spend the whole day here, stopping for lunch or afternoon tea in the café.  With an Yves Saint Laurent exhibition arriving in July this Museum is a must for fashionistas as well as art and museum lovers.  I definitely intend to return soon.

Paisley Museum & Art Galleries – What Presence!

January 24th, 2015
Selected images from Harry Papadopoulos

Rock Photography

What Presence! is a rock photography exhibition of work by the photographer Harry Papadopoulos and curated and produced by Street Level Photoworks and Ken McCluskey, of Scottish band The Bluebells.  If you lived, loved and bought music in the late 1970s and early 1980s you’ll love this exhibition.  It contains traditional black and white images of rock bands on stage including the Clash as well as informal shots of many Scottish bands in and around Glasgow comprising Orange Juice, Josef K, Aztec Camera, The Associates, The Skids, Simple Minds, Altered Images plus many more.  You knew that there were a lot of a Scottish bands around at that time but this exhibition really brings home what a golden era for Scottish music this was as well as record labels and magazines. Poignant images of Billy Mackenzie of the Associates sit alongside early images of Jim Kerr of Simple Minds and we spent the whole time saying “Wow – remember that band?”   The only drawback to this exhibition is the lack of a soundtrack.  Not cheap to get licences for music these days however it would benefit greatly from a soundtrack.  It’s a rock photography exhibition but people were walking around quietly and talking in hushed tones.  We played a bit a music as we walked around and visitors loved it…. That said, it’s a great trip down memory lane and brings out a sense of nostalgia for those 80s days.  It isn’t entirely devoted to Scottish bands and you’ll also find images of David Bowie, The Specials, The Birthday Party, Bauhaus and Cabaret Voltaire among many more.  Street Level hope that this touring exhibition will bring increased exposure for the work of Harry Papadopoulos who, having worked for the Sounds music newspaper as well as Marvel Comics, suffered a brain aneurysm in 2002 and now lives back in Scotland.

If you’re in Glasgow, Paisley is only 10 minutes away by train so pop down to this FREE exhibition and indulge in some good old fashioned nostalgia for those heady pop days – just bring your own soundtrack and headphones!

 

Niki de Saint Phalle Exhibition – Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow

November 29th, 2012

Niki de Saint Phalle has a long association with the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow.  When the Gallery was being converted she created the mirrored mosaic on the outside of the building which depicts the St Mungo legend, including the fish, the tree, the bell and the ring, which you can see on the triangular pediment of the building.  She also created the mirrored entrance hall.  Following an exhibition of her work at the McLellan Galleries she gave two sculptures to Glasgow – these were The Great Devil and the Altar to a Dead Cat.

This exhibition is based around a generous donation by Eric and Jean Cass.  They have collected contemporary art for over 30 years and were looking to distribute that art to museums and galleries around the UK.  Knowing Glasgow’s association with Niki de Saint Phalle they offered some of her work  to Glasgow to form part of the permanent collection.  This exhibition includes these new works as well as her original gifted sculptures, which were on view for many years when the Gallery of Modern Art first opened.

Niki de Saint Phalle

Reproduced courtesy of Glasgow Museums

It’s a fabulous exhibition – very accessible with bright colours and beautiful pieces which you could imagine owning.  There are some dark background stories to some of her more colourful pieces but her only truly dark piece on show is the Altar to a Dead Cat.  Many of the pieces come from her imagination and dreams.  There is a little brightly coloured frog (grenouille in French) which is a lovely thing to look at but if you look closely you can see that he has doesn’t look very happy.

 

The Great Devil (1985) is a massive sculpture which used to stand in the entrance to the Gallery.  This was one of the artist’s gifts to the City and she said that she was often scared whilst creating this piece.  You can see how she was influenced by Gaudi’s work in Barcelona.

Niki de Saint Phalle

Reproduced courtesy of Glasgow Museums

The Altar to a Dead Cat (1962) was created out of all the things which had happened to in her life including her strict Catholic upbringing and abuse by her father.  She would shoot at the object which caused the paint cans attached to the piece to explode.  There are two accompanying films which show how it was created and how the conservation team today prevent any deterioration.

There are also practical pieces including a plant holder and a side table, which Eric and Jean used within their home. 

 If you are visiting the Pompidou Centre in Paris you will see Niki de Saint Phalle’s work in a fountain which sits next to this Gallery which comprises of sculptures representing the work of the composter Igor Stravinsky.

Allocate an hour for this exhibition to take in all the films and background information for this beautiful and enigmatic artist.

Exhibition on until 16 November 2013 at The Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow

Intermezzo provide art and artist research for short term exhibition projects. For more information contact us on 0141 636 6929 or email us at info@intermezzo-arts.co.uk

 

Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2012

May 2nd, 2012

Here’s my write-up of an afternoon spent at the GI Festival in Glasgow – a celebration of visual and contemporary art in the City.  We started off at the Gi Hub on Miller Street to see Rosalind Nashashibi’s film of Scottish Ballet rehearsals.  It’s a lovely piece that lets you eavesdrop on the locals who are in to see rehearsals, including an older lady who comments on how young and supple the dancers are!  It also lets you hear how arduous the dancers find the rehearsals, there’s a lot of heavy breathing, and it finishes with two policemen whose blank expression makes it hard to work out exactly what they think of the dancers.

We then headed off to Trongate 103.  In the Glasgow Print Studio we saw Adrian Wiszniewski’s work which consisted of large canvases.  As part of the group known as the New Glasgow Boys he helped bring Glasgow to the attention of the national and international art world and I remember seeing his work in the Gallery of Modern Art when it first opened.  We particularly liked the very small coloured sketches made on gesso – they were delicate and beautiful.  If only we had the money to purchase ….

Also in Trongate 103 we visited Street Level Photoworks where we saw Marjolaine Ryley’s photographic project.  This is a really interesting exhibition and the photography is supplemented by beautifully written thoughts on her early life.  As a child she lived in a commune in the South of France and a squat in London and all of this is covered in this exhibition.

Image from the BBC website

Sacrilege at GiFestival

We then headed off to Glasgow Green which looked fantastic on this sunny day in Glasgow.   There were groups of young people playing cricket and football and a large crowd for Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege.  This is an interactive artwork which is an inflatable made to resemble Stonehenge.  Deller is a previous Turner Prize winner who has exhibited at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow and this work will head off to London for the 2012 Games later in the year.  It was packed full of school children (and many adults too!) bouncing around and having a lot of fun.  We decided just to take photographs … it all looked too energetic for us and just a little bit too crowded!!  This public artwork definitely puts a smile on your face.

We walked from Glasgow Green down to The Briggait where we saw One Person’s Materialism is Another Person’s Romanticism.  This is a fantastic space and the 1873 Hall renovation is impressive.  We sat on a very low red plastic sofa to view the video piece Venice by Anthea Hamilton.  You must see the Yogic John Travolta – inspired!  Do not sit on the red sofa if you are over 30 though … I had immense trouble getting off the thing … I had to slide onto the floor and then use my knees to stand up.  Not very graceful.  I also liked Anthea Hamilton’s costume, which greets you as you enter, called Pasta and Noodles – very 1980s!

From The Briggait we walked along to the Gallery of Modern Art to see Karla Black’s sculpture made entirely of sawdust.  It’s a fantastic piece, very impressive, with cellophane sculptures hanging across.  It fills the entire hall of Gallery 1 and looks good enough to eat – we thought it looked like a large Tiramasau.

Finally we headed down to Dixon Street.  First we called in at the Mary Mary Gallery to see Lorna Macintyre’s Midnight Scenes and Other Works which have a very distinct diamond motif throughout and are very thoughtful pieces.  We finished at the Kendall Koppe Gallery and Emory Douglas’s work with the Black Panthers.  Douglas is an American artist and activist who provided many of the images which those of us who lived in the 60s and 70s will remember.  The messges are very strong but I really liked the mix of the political with the art and this exhibition in particular has stayed with me.

If you are new to contemporary art I would recommend Emory Douglas at the Kendall Koppe Gallery, Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege in Glasgow Green and Adrian Wiszniewski at the Glasgow Print Studio to start you off.  They are all great in their own way and offer a window into the contemporary art world.

For more information on the GI Festival go to www.glasgowinternational.org

Enjoy!

Lord Sandwich

April 10th, 2012

John Mantagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792)  The 4th Earl of Sandwich waLord Sandwich by Thomas Gainsboroughs a man of ambition who combined a political career with a life-long interest in the Navy and all things maritime.  First Lord of the Admiralty on three occasions, reformer of naval dockyards and supporter of voyages of discovery,  Lord Sandwich was friend and patron of Captain James Cook.

Having completed his education and the customary Grand Tour of Europe, Sandwich took his seat in the House of Lords in 1744, joining the Board of Admiralty in 1744.  Becoming First Lord of the Admiralty in 1748, he worked closely with Admiral George Anson to tackle the state of the naval dockyards.  Sandwich was the first head of the Admiralty to actually visit the dockyards in nearly a century.

Losing his office in 1751 due to shifting political alliances, Sandwich was reinstated in 1771 and remained until 1782.  He was in office when Cook returned from his first voyage aboard the Endeavour (1769-72).  Impressed by Cook’s achievements, the 4th Earl was one of the few people to recognise Cook as the true leader of the expedition, rather than the publicity-hungry botanist Joseph Banks.  Sandwich backed Cook’s proposal of embarking on a second voyage – this time to seek out the Great Southern Continent.   Cook always acknowledged his debt to the Earl, asserting that without Sandwich’s action and support, the second voyage would never have taken place.

When Cook returned from his second voyage, Sandwich saw that he was justly rewarded by promoting him to the rank of Captain.  He then spent considerable time overseeing the publication of the official accounts of Cook’s voyages.  A man of huge charm, Sandwich was happy mixing with the company of all sorts of men, and was particularly willing to promote men of humble origin or obscure background, to back their professional expertise against better-born but not technically expert superiors.

Nevertheless, the 4th Earl has sometimes been represented as a man of colourful reputation,  described as a rake and gambler by Victorian historians.  Whilst Sandwich certainly gambled, this was unavoidable in polite society at the time, and the Earl appears to have been restrained in the sums he bet.  The Earl’s fondness for gambling has given rise to an interesting creation story for the infamous household snack which shares his name.  The Earl apparently invented the ‘sandwich’ due to his reluctance to quit the gambling table for dinner!  Whilst there is no evidence to prove this,  the common sandwich is certainly named after the 4th Earl,  who most likely ate slices of cold salt-beef between toasted bread at his writing-desk whilst spending long hours on correspondence!

This portrait of Lord Sandwich, painted by Thomas Gainsborough, can be viewed at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Grape Lane, Whitby.  For this year’s commemoration of the 4th Earl why not knit  a sandwich and enter the Captain Cook Museum competition.  Details and knitting patterns can be found on their blog

5 Easy Steps to Provide Sponsorship for Projects and Exhibitions

March 28th, 2012
Sponsorship and Fundraising

Sponsorship and Fundraising Event - Intermezzo

 1 Target Companies

Use social media, newspapers, art magazines and exhibitions to make a list of companies who are already supporting the arts.  Once you have the list look at networking groups and business groups who can help to introduce you to these companies.

 2 Networking

Find free networking groups in your local area.  The local chamber of commerce is usually able to help.  Look for opportunities to speak about your venues at their events and invite them in for a tour.

 3 Trusts and Foundations

Set up a spreadsheet of trusts and foundations who support the arts with the emphasis on criteria.  This makes it easier to locate possible supporters for specific projects.

 4 LinkedIn

Sign up for LinkedIn and follow those companies who are of interest to you.  Make connections with people you already know and then ask for introductions to potential sponsors where you have a link.

 5 Trustees

If you don’t already have a board of Trustees, then set one up.  Make sure some of your trustees are local business people who can help to introduce you to potential sponsors.  If you already have a Board, then invite them to a meeting about your project and exhibition and ask for their help.

 More top tips to follow ….

Intermezzo offer support in raising sponsorship and funds for one-off projects and exhibitions.  For more information call us on 0141 636 6929 or email us at info@intermezzo-arts.co.uk

Captain Cook Artefacts

September 12th, 2011
Grape Lane entrance, Whitby

Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Ever wonder where a museum, in particular a small museum, gets its collection and how it continues to expand? Often pieces are given on loan, especially when larger Museums have no room to display them.  The Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby was able to show a collection of pre-contact artects from the Pacific via an unusual route.

Joseph Banks, the Botanist who sailed with Cook, brought back these early pieces on The Endeavour and gave them to his old College, Christ Church, which kept them in a cellar for over 100 years before they finally pased them to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.  They then kept them for another 100 years in their cellar.  They were finally identified by Pitt Rivers staff recently but unfortunately they had no room to display them.   The Captain Cook Museum thus took the opportunity to offer to display them in Whitby.

Many museums around the country loan parts of their collection to venues where they will stand out rather than being held in store.

For more information visit the Captain Cook Memorial Museum website at www.cookmuseumwhitby.co.uk