It’s Sunday morning and although I have received billions of Zoom calls over the past 18 months, I begin my conversation with artists Chao-Ying Rao (aka Betty) and Robert McCormack muted. The story of several lives over the past year …
After a few minutes of apologies and mutual introductions. Me: your artistic personality from Herald Magazine and Betty / Robert: Glasgow School of Art (GSA) 2020 graduates, we are moving in many directions. Appropriate, given that we met at an unholy hour to discuss the couple’s latest project, Graduate Drive Thru.
Featured on its Eventbrite page as a MAGIC, FABULOUS AND SEXXXY ART SHOW, the open-air Drive Thru can be visited on the rooftop of an NCP parking lot on Glassford Street until it ends Monday evening.
With beautiful 360-degree views of the city of Glasgow, the space is, Betty laughs, a showcase for 24 “overwhelmed artists”, all of whom graduated in several artistic disciplines in 2020 without a degree.
A GSA graduate in painting and printmaking and a graduate in Philosophy and English Literature from the University of Edinburgh, Betty revel in the quirks of the language. To that end, she and Robert worked for months on a series of road sign-influenced posters to promote the project, which is part of Glasgow’s largest non-profit DIY festival Open House Arts (GOHAF). .
The idea of submerged artists (“a play on the idea of us as emerging artists, which is one of those very specific expressions of the art world”) is transformed into a visual cue by a poster yellow representing a car falling into the water.
So what’s actually going to happen at Drive Thru this weekend, I ask? “We don’t know,” Betty exclaims. “It’s going to fray over the weekend …”
One thing is for sure, the emerging / submerging cohort of 2020 NCP rooftop graduates is living proof that resilience is a key quality in all creative life.
The Glasgow Open House Arts Festival, which returns to the city this weekend after a four-year hiatus, was originally established in 2013 by GSA graduates frustrated by the lack of opportunities available to them after the end of their stay at the art school.
Three editions of the festival followed, but in 2017 and a victim of its own success, it had become too heavy for the volunteer committee and it disbanded.
Last year, artist and GSA graduate Amalie Silvani-Jones, who has been involved with GOHAF from the start, began to think of the festival’s original “artists doing it for themselves” goals. fit perfectly with the approach of confining art to windows and concerts on balconies.
“I had a baby in 2015 followed by twins,” Amalie tells me. “So my time to volunteer as an organizer was very limited. But last year, with my partner on leave from work and freed up to take care of the children, I started to think that maybe the time had come to relaunch Open House.
“I felt a real need to harness the positive creative energy of containment.”
Amalie duly put together a proposal and received funding from Creative Scotland and the Hope Scott Trust, which promotes music and the visual arts in Scotland. The dice have been cast for a four day social distancing festival with the appropriate theme of artists in isolation.
This weekend, the festival showcases the work of over 125 artists, with over 60 projects online in over 40 outdoor venues.
In keeping with what is definitely the mood of the day, the artists welcome friends, neighbors and strangers to the front and back gardens, community gardens and other outdoor spaces – offering hospitality and sharing their art, music, performances and their stories.
In addition to the Graduate Drive Thru, which was supported financially and in-kind by alma mater, GSA, here are my highlights:
Online: Four free artistic and craft activities:
Families and members of the public are encouraged to join the festival program by displaying artistic creations in a window or front garden. Free advice available online. It is possible to buy two types of Window Art Activity Box for £ 10, containing the materials and advice needed to carry out one of the activities at home. The proceeds will be used to donate the same art boxes to communities supported by Refuweegee.
Molten plastic lanterns recycled with Giacinta Frisillo
Paper craft with window box with Alice Dansey-Wright
Milk Bottle Moths with The Art & Energy Collective (Moths to a Flame Project)
Stained glass painting with Amalie Silvani-Jones
Location 27, The Hidden Gardens, Tramway, Albert Drive, Glasgow, G41 2PE
Beginner: Julia Hegele
Building a human-sized nest nestled in a precious corner of green space ties together a legacy of home building, seeking comfort and welcoming the inevitability of the Glasgow rain.
Today, 10:15 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location 8, Domestic Window: 212 West Princes Street, G4 9DL
Wood Salvage: Janie Nicol
Two exhibits, one in the front window of the artist’s apartment in West Princes Street, and another in Woodlands Workspace that “talk to each other” and aim to explore how the Woodlands community has coped with the pandemic.
Location 38, window, Bees Knees Cafe, G42 8LF
Lock postcards by project capacity. works by Tommy Mason, Doreen Kay, Edward Henry, Kelly Bowes, Cameron Morgan and more.
A showcase of small-scale drawings and paintings made by artists from Project Ability throughout the pandemic. Project Ability is a visual arts charity that creates opportunities for people with disabilities and those with lived experience of mental illness.
Place 7, public space, under the railway bridge, Ferry Road, G3 8QX
The Rod by Mary Redmond
The Verge project has revived an abandoned space and is now a brownfield garden and public art / performance site, which is also very beneficial for insects and pollinators creating a small ecosystem full of life, while providing an essential link in a chain of pollinator sites.
Four locations, cycling event: from Kelvinbridge
Bike + conversation with Ellie Harrison
Join artist Ellie Harrison for a bike ride around town, admiring her four early warning signs located in various venues around town, especially for the festival; including Impact Arts in the East End and three more in the West End and South Side.
From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. today only.
Glasgow Open House Arts Festival, in 42 venues across Glasgow and 20 online spaces through Monday September 27, https://www.glasgowopenhousearts.co.uk/
David Mach’s huge Big Heids sculpture, next to the M8 in Holytown, Lanarkshire, has to be one of Scotland’s best-seen works of art.
But the Fife-born artist, nominated for the Turner Prize in 1988, is not one to be confined to working on a single medium. Mach works in a multitude of media, including – most recently – music and writing.
Mach, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, a Royal Academician and now Professor of Inspiration and Discovery at the University of Dundee, is one of the UK’s most successful and prolific artists. He has long been fascinated by collage and for Heaven & Hell, which opens today at the RGI Kelly Gallery in Glasgow, he presents 11 large-scale collages. Each depicts various scenes from Mach’s idea of Heaven and Hell and to illustrate this it features various landmarks around the world. Glasgow is very present and the places he has transposed into a heavenly / hellish setting include; The Riverside Museum and the Glasgow Science Center.
In one of the works, Weegie Well, the Waverley, the world’s last passenger paddle steamer in the world, was transposed into a tropical paradise with smiling, nubile beauties in the foreground and the Science Center and others. Clydeside skyline buildings in the background.
Hell Paris shows the scorching lower parts of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Suffice to say that this disturbing montage is not the Insta-friendly view you will see on a social media platform.
In Heaven Pittsburg, we see the city seen from a postcard-friendly park in full fall mode. The scene is autumnal but there is an air of menace.
Saturated colors and smiling faces in all of these works hide a dark belly which in any case leads this viewer to conclude that we are all heading to the fiery place in a handcart.
Heaven & Hell: David Mach RA, RGI Kelly Gallery, 118 Douglas Street, Glasgow G2 4ET, 0141 258 1080, https://www.theroyalglasgowinstituteofthefinearts.co.uk/, Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., until 16 October. Free
Do not miss
Nicola Atkinson’s Portable Retrospective book, which launched last week, is a great example of how to continue to face adversity. This magnificent book is coupled with a virtual gallery and a retrospective of Nicola Atkinson’s career, with 125 projects from 1981 to the present day. An art exhibition in your hands that continues the theme of reimagining spaces for art.
Portable retrospective, beautiful materials edition, https://beautifulmaterials.co/, £ 20
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