Monday, 11 June 2012

Glasgow School of Art Degree Show 2012

If Monday is my day off work I like to avoid being at a loose end and doing any work related activity so try to run about and fill my day with any old tosh, so that's what I've done today, and there is still Euro 2012 games to come later - perfect.
River Kelvin, Glasgow
Collected along the riverside

The West End Festival is still on in this part of Glasgow so over the weekend we went for a burger, listened to some music and had a look around the stalls at the Friends of the River Kelvin Summer Gala. You know it is a "West End" festival when there are haloumi burgers on offer alongside the meat and my "Still Hate Thatcher" top got 4 or 5 "Hey, I like the t-shirt" comments. My favourite stall was the one by a guy who had been collecting rubbish that he'd found washed up along the banks of the river. I think initially he'd started off trying to help the efforts to clean up the riverside, but got a bit addicted to the junk collecting part of it. Anyway he has spent 8 years gathering a fine collection of clay pipes, golf balls, knife handles and apparently once came across a grenade.

Over the weekend the annual Glasgow School of Art Degree Show opened, and runs until June 16th. Other art school degree shows are available. The ongoing building work means that the Art School is scattered across various sites at present, so I got on my bike this Monday to try to take as much of it in as I could. I always enjoy seeing this when I get the chance, not really trying to spot the next Turner Prize winner, but more to wander around the buildings and say "You spent four years here and that's what you came up with?". To be honest the show this year seemed to have a bit more substance than it sometimes can, particularly some fine photography, sculpture, embroidered pieces and the Environmental Art pieces. John Lennon, Kurt Cobain - okay, maybe a bit less original. I liked the sculptures of feathers in Rosemary Shepley's stuff, and I knew that they were odd, but didn't realise that the new roadsigns that had appeared around Byres Road were actually the work of one of the students, Jo Gallagher, asking the question "but is it art?"
"Removed, reduced, repainted, replaced" - Jo Gallagher

Some plaster casts of fruit and a shower head
Hopped back on the bike, ignored the rain (although I did wish I'd brought gloves, bit nippy for June) and headed for The Glue Factory being used to house the Master of Fine Art works. Frustratingly too many of these involved video installations, which seemed to have a tendency to crash and display a 6 foot high computer error message (or was this what they'd spent their time producing?). Nosing around the disused industrial space here was as interesting as much of the work on display. Claire Moore's Russian themed paintings I liked, Erik Osberg's video was distracting enough as he chased himself about, but beyond that there wasn't much that grabbed me. The polythene wrapped works below reminded me of Karla Black's stuff which is still on show in GoMA just now.
Three pieces on display at the MFA show at the Glue Factory
Onwards to the Skypark building down on Finnieston Street where the Jewellery, Textiles, Interior Design and Product Design departments are displaying their wares. I'm afraid what I can remember most from here was the view out of the windows over to the Hydro Arena slowly taking shape beside the SECC. With a name like that it is going to look very silly when people find out that it is named after a sponsor and no swimming pool or flumes are planned.
Hydro Arena
My plan from there had been to get a wee vegan lunch and organic beer down at the excellent bar "The 78" but I was thwarted as they don't open until 12.30pm, so carrying on along Argyle Street I went into the Italian exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery, "The Essence of Beauty: 500 years of Italian Art". It is not my favourite type of painting, overly religious for my taste. Also the exhibition basically displays Glasgow's civic collection of Italian paintings, ceramics and sculpture arranged chronologically but instead of it all being free at Kelvingrove and the Burrell Museums, you are charged £5. Unless you really like this stuff, I wouldn't bother. Before I left I ran upstairs to have another look at Richard Wright's works on paper again, and whilst up there Alison Watt's painting,
Phantom, by Alison Watt

Phantom caught my eye as several of the students whose work I'd seen earlier today have obviously been influenced by her work, but her skill just glows out from the canvas.

As I was now getting hungry it was an excuse to revisit A Play, A Pie and A Pint who are starting their season of "Sol Classic Cuts", classic plays adapted to the 45 minute lunchtime format that works so well for producing new drama at Oran Mor. This week it was Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, adapted by Sandy Nelson. I liked the symmetry of this being on as my children had seen the modern version of Eliza Doolittle performing with the Olympic Torch in George Square on Saturday. I've never been a fan of musicals, so haven't ever made it all the way through 'My Fair Lady' and neither have I seen Shaw's play that is to blame for its existence so the plot was all new to me. The typical tweeks to the story worked well, playing it with the actors' Scottish accents, as Higgins gets Eliza to enunciate "the whale in Crail has a very large tail". The central themes of class division and social mobility are sadly as relevant today as they were 100 years ago when the play was written. Anyway, if you plan to go, get there early to chose your seat as today was as busy as I've seen the place in a while.

At this point my plan had been to sit down to Ukraine vs Sweden, but as my son is in the school production of "The Wizard of Oz" this week, it seems that I DO get to watch a musical today. Oh, joy.

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