Category Archives: Criticism

The Unlearning Organisation: Cultural Devolution and Scotland’s Visual Arts 1967-2017 in Artists in the City: SPACE in ’68 and beyond

Artists in the City: SPACE in 1968 and Beyond
Edited by Anna Harding
Designed by Modern Activity
Published by SPACE (Art Services Grants Limited)
ISBN 978-1-9999278-0-6
Distributed by Cornerhouse Publications, HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN. Price £19.95

SPACE’s 50th Anniversary Archive Display
SPACE Mare Street, London
19 January – 17 March 2018

In celebration of SPACE’s 50th anniversary, a display in the project space presents previously unseen material from SPACE’s archive covering the years 1968-75 as well as photographs of early events and studio sites, capturing the founding years of SPACE and AIR, the Art Information Register which was the sister organization to SPACE. This material forms the basis of the book Artists in the City: SPACE in 1968 and beyond to be published in March.

The book launch event is set for Saturday 17 March, followed by a panel discussion with selected contributors at Whitechapel Art Gallery on Thursday 22 March.

Neil Mulholland – The Unlearning Organisation: Cultural Devolution and Scotland’s Visual Arts 1967-2017

Building on primary research in CCA/GSA’s Third Eye Centre archive and interviews with key stakeholders, this chapter elaborates the ways in which visual artists based in Scotland developed their own civic infrastructure in tandem with the devolution of state arts patronage from London to Edinburgh from 1967 onwards. It demonstrates how the Keynesian arms-length principal inherited by the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) generated a productive tension with nascent Artist Run Initiatives (ARIs) in Scotland. With limited state support, artists successfully developed and ran their own platforms while the Scottish Arts Council founded and led more generously funded (competing) national and civic arts organisations.

Realising Tom Nairn and Bob Tait’s vision of a Scottish International, Scotland’s nascent ARIs bypassed official Scottish and British arts bodies, finding a blueprint and network for their activities in ARIs such as SPACE (London) and PS1 (New York City).

As a means of mapping means of production and systems of distribution over the past half century, the chapter presents snapshots of organisational change at pivotal moments in the devolution of the arts in Scotland: 1971, 1979, 1992 and 1999.

These case studies provide a basis for critical analysis of the devolution of the visual arts since the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament. Following political devolution in 1999, Scotland’s Governments have revoked JM Keynes’ arm’s length Patron State model in favour of the New Labour experiment with Structuration and creative economics that is Creative Scotland. Throwing SAC on the arms-length-bodies bonfire that has raged across R-UK, a centrist ‘creative economy’ model has been accelerated by the SNP.

In some respects, post-devolution Scotland is less devolved than it was in 1994 and, also, less democratically accountable. The chapter proposes that the Scottish Government may best unlearn the existing Union State apparatus by adapting the distinctive model of collaborative advantage that artists have developed to successfully govern their activities over the past 50 years.

Praktika II : 21 Years of Deveron Arts

 

I wrote a short report on Praktika II : which formed part of the 21 Years of Deveron Arts Celebrations in Huntly, December 2017

PDF is available from Deveron Arts (via this link)

and from this link

—————————————————–
21 Years of Deveron Arts

“By taking stock we reflected on our position as a key player for socially engaged art in Scotland. Working with Anthony Schrag and David Harding, we held Praktika II. Praktika was a 3 day intensive workshop in 2008 which brought 12 artists together with David Harding, Rosie Gibson and Deveron Projects to consider, and raise the profile of, socially engaged art practice.

Praktika was also the first time we worked with Anthony, since he has done two projects with us, A Perfect Father Day and Lure of the Lost. Unlike the original Praktika this was just a two hour session, however rather than purely artists this workshop brought together a selection of artists, academics, community members and policy makers. In order to gain an insight from all parties involved in socially engaged projects. The workshop considered the “wicked problem”, as Anthony puts, it of socially engaged practice and how Deveron Projects can move forward.”

Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt

generation-guide-reader-600px-1

Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt (p111-119) is my contribution to:

GENERATION: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland Guide and Reader

Edited by Moira Jeffrey

National Galleries of Scotland and Glasgow Life

Over the last twenty-five years Scotland has had a growing reputation as an international centre of artistic innovation and experiment for the visual arts. These books accompanyGENERATION: 25 Years of Contemporary Art, a major nationwide exhibition programme showcasing some of the best and most significant art to have emerged from Scotland over the last twenty-five years.

The GENERATION Guide provides a fully illustrated guide to the programme with entries on the work of more than eighty artists being exhibited in over sixty venues throughout Scotland and information about group exhibitions and other projects. It forms the first comprehensive overview of the art of the period. It includes Turner prize winners Douglas Gordon, Simon Starling and Martin Boyce and 2014 nominees Duncan Campbell and Ciara Phillips.

The GENERATION Reader, edited by writer Moira Jeffrey, provides the first collection of key documents from the period including essays, critical writing and artists’ own texts, and offers a guide to the ideas, events and debates that shaped a generation. In it, a selection of archive texts from the period sit alongside newly-commissioned writing which includes an introduction by novelist Louise Welsh and specially commissioned essays by Juliana Engberg, Nicola White, Dr Sarah Lowndes, Professor Andrew Patrizio, Professor Francis McKee  and Jenny Richards.

GENERATION Guide and Reader books come in slipcase.

 Extent 240pp/128pp. Paperback. 95 colour illustrations, guide and reader in slipcase.

£14.95

The 6th Annual Steven Campbell Trust Lecture

The Four Seasons: MacInnes over Africa 

African Affair Install
Words: Dr Pru Forrest, Newcastle Art Gallery, New South Wales.

Images: Angus B. MacInnes African Affair paintings (2013-14). 

My presentation for the Steven Campbell Trust Lecture at CCA, Glasgow. (10 mins)

Catalogue available from Hour Projects, Copenhagen

The Steven Campbell Trust are delighted to announce that artist Ross Sinclair will be giving the sixth annual Steven Campbell Trust Lecture. 

In the role of emcee, Ross Sinclair will be joined by artists, writers, curators and educators; Ellis Luxemburg, Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, Jim Colquhoun, David Harding and Neil Mulholland to cast a critical eye over the current state of the visual arts community flourishing in the shadow of the much used (and abused) paradigm of ‘The Glasgow Miracle’.

The Scotland-wide GENERATION project is currently celebrating the development of contemporary art in Scotland over the last 25 years. It has brought exhibitions and projects by over 100 artists to over 60 galleries around the country including landmark installations by both Ross Sinclair and Steven Campbell. To coincide, the BBC produced Scotland’s Art Revolution: The Maverick Generation, featuring Sinclair and contemporaries, charting the development of the recent Scottish scene. But can these kind of large scale, media positioned, centrally funded events ever hope to reflect what’s really going on? Let’s find out.

Sinclair has worked for the past couple of years on an AHRC funded project with Francis McKee, Director of CCA, in partnership with The Glasgow School of Art: The Glasgow Miracle- Materials for Alternative Histories. The project has explored and rationalised existing archival material from the Third Eye Centre and CCA (material spanning the period 1972- the present) and through which Sinclair has conducted an ongoing series of long form interviews with artists building an archive for future historians: http://glasgowmiracle.blogspot.co.uk

Oor Glasgow

My Glasgow
Scottish Council Art Gallery, Levernside Road, Pollok, Glasgow (1973)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m in this. video.frieze.com/film/Glasgow

In their first half hour film frieze asks a host of artists and curators – including Laura Aldridge, Duncan Campbell, Alasdair Gray and David Harding – to reflect upon the past, present and future of Glasgow’s art scene. The film was premiered at the Glasgow Film Theatre as part of the BBC Art Screen Festival 2014 and screened again at the ICA, London.

Mother Tongue: The White Aesthetic Necessitated by the ‘Glasgow Miracle’

The White Aesthetic Necessitated by the ‘Glasgow Miracle’

Publication accompanying the exhibition: “Two Invisible Case Studies” | Malmö Konsthall | Maud Sulter & Oladele Ajiboye Bamgboye | presented as part of 24 Spaces: A Cacophony | 29 July – 7 August 2013. Curated by Mother Tongue

The following is a copy of https://mothertonguecurating.com/projects/#/what-we-have-done-what-we-are-about-to-do/ which sets the publication and exhibition in context:

“Two Invisible Case Studies Pt I Part of ‘What We Have Done, What We Are About To Do’ CCA Glasgow Preview 17th August, Exhibition Open 18th August – 15th September 2012

‘What We Have Done, What We Are About To Do’ was an exhibition curated by Dr Francis Mckee, revealing over 140 films documenting the activity of the CCA Glasgow#s predecessor, the Third Eye Centre, in the 1970s. The footage covers the early existence of the organisation in Blythswood Square, the construction of a gallery space and café in 350 Sauchiehall St and the appearance of many famous artists, bands and performers. In the spirit of the age, the films also chart Glasgow itself, audiences and activities in the art centre, and key figures such as Jimmy Boyle, Allen Ginsberg, Morton Feldman, John Byrne, Michael Craig-Martin, Madelaine Taylor, Keith Tippett and Tom McGrath. This exhibition was part of a wider AHRC project between Glasgow School of Art and the CCA Glasgow seeking to attend to alternative art histories of the local arts community, titled ‘The Glasgow Miracle: Materials for Alternative Histories.’ An essay on this wider project written by Francis Mckee can be found here.

To accompany this exhibition, Rebecca Wilcox and Oliver Pitt of Prawn’s Pee were invited to curate a series of responses to the exhibitions’ premise, from artists, musicians, curators and designers. Responding to the idea of archives and the process of archiving, those invited – including Mother Tongue – delved into the past histories of both the Third Eye Centre and CCA to query the relevance of these traces and to create something new from the fragments that remain.

Mother Tongue’s response to the Third Eye Centre/CCA-Glasgow archive took the form of a re-presentation of exhibition material and artworks from Maud Sulter and Oladélé Ajiboyé Bamgboyé, existing in the archive via the exhibitions Alba [1995] and Through Photography [1989], respectively. While both were active artists in Glasgow in the late1980’s and early 1990’s, they are notably absent from the grand ‘Glasgow Miracle’ narrative, detached from their contemporaries, an issue about which both Sulter and Bamgboyé were vocal.

Our re-presentation here of their work from the archive is intended to highlight not only their omission from the Glasgow Miracle, but to speculate on the relationship between this omission and the whiteness of the known narratives surrounding art histories of Glasgow, and more broadly, Scotland. These explorations culminated in an essay, released mid-way through the exhibition, and made freely available in the gallery space. The following year, other Tongue returned to ‘Two Invisible Case Studies,’ to further develop the project and to create an expanded version of the essay. The 2013 version of this can be found as a .pdf below.

Maud Sulter [1960-2008] Born in Glasgow of Scots and Ghanaian descent, Maud Sulter was a writer, playwright, cultural historian and artist, working with installation, photography and video. She attained a Masters degree in Photographic Theory, and came to prominence through her programming of Check It at the Drill Hall, London and inclusion in the exhibition The Thin Black Line, curated by Lubaina Himid at the ICA, 1986. Her work was subsequently included in exhibitions including: Victoria and Albert Museum in 1987; the Johannesburg Biennial (1996); and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2003. Between 1992 and 1994, she was the Principal Lecturer in Fine Art at the Manchester Metropolitan University, and later directed and founded the gallery Rich Women of Zurich, London, which promoted cultural diversity and mid-career artists.

Sulter was awarded the British Telecom New Contemporaries Award 1990 and the Momart Fellowship at the Tate Gallery Liverpool in 1990, alongside acknowledgements of her writing including the Vera Bell Prize for Poetry (awarded for As A Blackwoman). Sulter’s work is held in the collections of the V&A London, Arts Council Collection, the British Council, the Scottish Arts Council and the Scottish Parliament Collection, amongst others.

Oladélé Ajiboyé Bamgboyé [b. 1963] Born in Odo-Eku, Nigeria, Oladélé Bamgboyé’s family emigrated to Glasgow in 1975, where he completed a degree in Chemical Engineering in 1985. In the late 1980’s, Bamgboyé began to produce photographs, establishing his practice through documentation photography for a number of galleries and institutions in Glasgow, including Transmission Gallery and Variant Magazine. A founding member of Street Level Gallery, early exhibitions of his work at the Third Eye Centre and Transmission led to Bamgboyé being awarded a summer studio residency at the Banff Centre Canada and the Richard Hough Prize for Photography in 1992. Bamgboyé re-located to Berlin, then London, undertaking an M.A in Media Fine Art Theory and Practice at Slade College of Fine Art.

International exhibitions of Bamgboyé’s work include the Johannesburg Biennial, “Cross/ing: Time-Space-Movement” [1996]; Documenta X [1997]; The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945 – 1994, P.S. 1, New York and Museum Villa Stuck, Munich [2002]; Animations, PS1 New York and Kunst Werke, Berlin [2001]. At the time of writing, the curators have been notified that Oladélé Bamgboyé has ceased to remain working as an artist.”