Archive for May, 2015

Ingenious Impressions – Hunterian

Saturday, 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

Saturday, 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.