Saturday, 29 September 2012

Scottish Artists Union AGM, DCA, Dundee

Today I attended the Scottish Artists Union (SAU) Annual General Meeting, which was held at DCA, Dundee.

It was rather disappointing that despite having over 900 members, there were only about 40 people (including some non-members) at what was an interesting event.

I am pleased that, along with Deniz Üster I was elected onto the new Executive Committee, and look forward to being more involved with the SAU.

A couple of motions were proposed, one coming from a member and the other (made up of 7 component parts all relating to Creative Scotland) from the executive. After in depth debate, both were accepted.

Lorraine Simpson then delivered a superb presentation on the findings of her research into the Public Entertainment License (PEL). The SAU had commissioned Lorraine to carry out this research, and the report will be available on the SAU website within the next few weeks.

Simpson contacted all of the Local Authorities to gain an understanding of their position in relation to the change in the PEL. Only 3 Local Authorities have specified that individuals and organisations hosting free events such as exhibitions, Open Studios, workshops will need to apply for a license. 9 Local Authorities (Glasgow included) have not yet decided upon their stance, and the other Local Authorities are not going to insist upon a PEL for free events. Lorraine reported that most Local Authorities were very reasonable, and that it is worth artists talking to them about their plans.

The next presentation was about the SAU members survey. The results were somewhat grim. 59% of respondents have never received and exhibition payment, over 70% of respondents earned less that £5000 from their practice last year, and 85% have not been issued with contracts.

This lead nicely into Janie Nicol reporting on the WAGE event that happened just over a week ago in Glasgow (see earlier blog post for information about this).

Donald Urquhart was the guest artist speaker, and concluded the day by discussing his work in relation to collaborative practice.

All in all it was a good event, managing to be more than a business report, and marking the start of some exciting investigations.

Will Self Friday Event

Today I was lucky enough to attend the first Friday Event of the 2012-2013 academic session. The speaker was Will Self who introduced and read from his new publication "Umbrella", which is on the shortlist for the Man Booker prize.

Cinema 1 at The Gft, Glasgow had a full audience, which the speaker likened to a "field of mushrooms".

Self did not disappoint, his talk was informative, intelligent and entertaining.

Quote of the day courtesy of Will Self
"semi colons are the coalition of punctuation"

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Studio 58 Symposium

Studio 58 Symposium
The Glasgow School of Art

Susannah Waters, GSA Archivist
Peter Trowles, GSA Curator
Andrea Kusel - Curator of Art, Paisley Museum
Sarah Lowndes - Studio 58 Curator
Stacy Boldrick - Research and Interpretation Manager at The Fruitmarket Gallery

Sarah Lowndes mentioned that there were a number of sub themes to the exhibition:
1. Still life - Still life as an interior landscape when it was not possible to go outside
2. Artists with illness / handicap

Lowndes was interested in meetings between artists, particularly meetings between two or more artists who had never met before

"I do feel the more you know something, the more you get out of it" Joan Eardley

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Studio visit

This afternoon I had a studio visit from Anne-Louise Kieran, the Visual Arts Development Officer for North Lanarkshire Council. Anne-Louise had visited my studio at the recent Open Studio weekend, and got in touch shortly after to offer me an exhibition at one of the spaces that she programmes. 

It was really good to talk to her about her background, her role, my work and my forthcoming exhibition. The exhibition will take place at Motherwell Concert Hall and Theatre from Sept 4th 2013 - October 30th 2013. It seems like I have a lot of time, but I know how quickly time flies, and I am already thinking about making work for the space.

Given the nature of the building, the exhibition will consist of wall based work. I am conscious that  the work will predominantly be seen by a non-art audience and I will be mindful of this when producing the work. By this I do not mean to "dumb down" the work, but I need to ensure that the work can be appreciated on a number of levels and is not dependent on having an art background in order to get something from it.

 In light of the WAGE RAGE discussion that I attended yesterday, it was pleasing to hear that a small fee will be offered and that they are willing to help with things such as hiring a van to collect the work, assistance with hanging the work, and offering to loan some frames for the duration of the exhibition. Anne-Louise was supportive of the need for some guidelines or legislation around the payments given to artists for exhibiting their work.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


Tonight I attended the public meeting to address the need for artists' exhibition fees in non-profit art institutions in Glasgow and beyond.

The event was introduced by artist Charlotte Prodger and then short presentations were given by Isla Leaver-Yap (Freelance Curator), Corin Sworn (Artist) and the Scottish Artists Union. Lise Soskolne, co-organiser of W.A.G.E (Working Artists And The Greater Economy) delivered the main presentation. 

For more information about W.A.G.E, please visit

Lots of interesting points were raised, but I will share these with you when I am more awake!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Creative Scotland under scrutiny

Arts funding body Creative Scotland has been scrutinised by MSPs on the Scottish Parliament's Education and Culture Committee, with representatives from Scotland's visual arts sector giving evidence.

By Chris Sharratt on a-n news

Published 18th September 2012
Representatives from Scotland’s visual arts sector have given evidence to MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee, as it discussed the work of Creative Scotland, the arts funding body which replaced the Scottish Arts Council in 2010.

Francis McKee, director of Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), and public artist Matt Baker were joined by Creative Scotland Chief Executive Andrew Dixon and Gwilym Gibbons, director, Shetland Arts Development Agency.

Baker, who is based in Dumfries and Galloway, raised concerns about the geographical bias of the funding body, accusing it of disregarding local input: “We’re getting large cultural producers being parachuted into our areas [by Creative Scotland], swallowing significant amounts of our local budget,” he said. “That’s left a lot of discord locally and been very destructive.”

Baker also criticized the organisation for a lack of transparency, a point picked up on by Francis McKee. He said: “It’s good dialogue face-to-face [with Creative Scotland], but there’s not enough dialogue publicly with the arts community, trust is being lost and that’s dangerous. There’s a communication gap that needs to be bridged – that communication has to happen.”

Despite the controversy surrounding the organisation’s funding decisions – Turner Prize nominee Luke Fowler has characterized it as "New Labour meets the politburo”, while Scottish poet Don Paterson, who won the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2010, recently described Creative Scotland as a "dysfunctional ant-heap" – the mood among the panel was good natured and professional rather than heated.

Poor communication by the organisation was a recurring theme throughout the session and on numerous occasions Dixon accepted that the organisation needed to improve on this: “I’m absolutely committed to transparency and I admit that we’re not getting it right,” he said.

Flexible funding

On the issue of changes to flexible funding for 49 organisations across Scotland announced in May, the deadline for which has since been extended by six months, McKee said: “It’s a fraught process because it’s change for a start. There have been problems along the way and those problems are still evolving.”

McKee explained that an organisation like CCA couldn’t operate on a project-by-project basis, as Creative Scotland's changes initially required it to, due to the need for long-term and strategic planning. He acknowledged that Creative Scotland had modified the process in order to enable the organisation to apply for project funding across a two-year period.
“There’s been a constant moving of the parameters which are helping us as we go, and that has been a positive change,” he said. “They’re changes we need to see."

Baker said that the issues around flexible funding were largely irrelevant to him. Describing the artist-led organisations and initiatives that he was involved with, he said: “We’re not expecting core funding, we’re after advocacy and help from Creative Scotland to allow us to use the arts for the wider good. And [in that area] quite a lot of the noises we’re hearing are quite good.”

McKee added that there were concerns among flexibly funded organisations around the use of Lottery funding. He said: “Perhaps on behalf of all the flexibly-funded organisations, I should say that there’s a worry about the relationship to the Lottery. The Lottery looks as if it’s project funded, and we’re now talking about more sustainable funding through the Lottery. We all welcome this, but we just want to know that the Lottery agrees."

Friday, 14 September 2012

Anais Nin's diaries

The third volume of Anaïs Nin's diaries  provides Nin's "thoughtful and timeless meditations on life, mass movements, Paris vs. New York, what makes a great city, and the joy of handcraft."

"You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them. If it seems to you that I move in a world of certitudes, you, par contre, must benefit from the great privilege of youth, which is that you move in a world of mysteries. But both must be ruled by faith."

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Dominoes in Helsinki

Dominoes in Helsinki video

On Thursday 23 August, Dominoes appeared in Helsinki with more than 20,000 people in the streets, 10,000 blocks, 250 volunteers and a feeling of joy and celebration.

Starting on an island of Helsinki's archipelago, the blocks reached the beach of Meri Rastela, going through the suburbs, took the metro to go through Kallio and its famous traditional Sauna. Then made its way through a musican's flat and fell into the gigantic tunnels that exist under all of Helsinki. It continued in the streets of the centre and finished on Senat Square.  

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Clive Hodgson - signed paintings at 42 Carlton Place

 Another wonderful exhibition at 42 Carlton Place. The paintings, all unframed are simply hung on the wall with pins or resting on nails. This simplicity is matched in the work. Hodgson uses subtle colours, often created through the layering of different shades. These are revealed when Hodgson signs and dates his work, often removing the top layer of paint to show what lies beneath.

Clive Hodgson’s paintings can be lyrical, disarming or mordant. They evoke emblem, signage and diagram.

Becoming known in the 1980s for anecdotal figuration, he has moved through alternations and combinations of abstraction and representation, deploying varied technical means: geometric pattern; stenciling; apparently casual daubing; stipple and spatter; ornamental calligraphic design. His diverse strategies build to a concerted interrogation of the puzzles of art and life.

The current exhibition is largely of recent work in which the signing (and dating) of the paintings is a significant part of imagery and content.

Clive Hodgson was born in Nottingham in 1953. He studied at St. Martin’s School of Art 1971-72 and the Slade School of Art 1972-77. He had a residency at The British School at Rome in 1998. Recent exhibitions have included: 2005 ‘Incorrigible, Sentimental’, Filles du Calvaire Brussels; 2006 Terrace London; 2008 ‘False Friends’, Five Years London; 2012 Broadbent London; ‘ Ever Since I Put Your Picture in a Frame’, 42 Carlton Place Glasgow; ‘The Smallest Composite Number’, Standpoint London.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Scotland can make it

7 SEPTEMBER 2012 – 13 JANUARY 2013

Scotland Can Make It! is an exhibition of six souvenir prototypes inspired by the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The souvenirs, designed and manufactured entirely in Scotland, aim to offer a lasting material legacy of both major events whilst expressing a strong message about Scotland’s rich and imaginative cultural landscape. 

The prototypes have been made by the following artists, designers and companies: 

Atelier EB and Marc Camille Chaimowicz with Begg Scotland and McRostie of Glasgow

Claire Duffy with Tunnock’s 

Emlyn Firth and Angharad McLaren with Johnstons of Elgin

FOUND with Chemikal Underground

Katy West with Highland Stoneware and Rogano Oyster Bar 

Neil McGuire and Marianne Anderson with Carlton Die Casting and Jewellery Prototyping Services

The souvenirs will be developed for sale as a part of the cultural programme for the Commonwealth Games. They will be available to buy in Glasgow and across Scotland in 2014.

A film, Scotland Can Make It!: the making of six souvenirs presents a series of informal interviews and a behind the scenes look at the processes involved in creating the unique prototypes for Scotland Can Make It!
Filmed in the studios, workshops and factories of the Scotland Can Make It! designers, artists, musicians and manufacturers, the film highlights the quality and breadth of Scotland’s creative practitioners and manufacturing industries. 

Scotland Can Make It! is part of Scotland’s Cultural Programme for London 2012 and Glasgow 2014

Tuesday, 4 September 2012