Glasgow Gallery Weekend

On the weekend when Glasgow art explodes, Rosamund West takes a walk down the newest gallery district of Eastvale Place.

Feature by Rosamund West | 05 May 2009

It is relatively rarely that the Glasgow art world lives up to its reputation as a glittering rival to high-profile art hubs like London and Berlin. On the occasions that it does, however, it is something of a sight to behold.

April’s Gallery Weekend is just such an event. Exhibitions and performances mushroom all over the city, but surely the most excitement is to be found in the burgeoning artist community of Eastvale Place, the nascent gallery street of Washington Garcia, ten til ten and Glasgow Sculpture Studios that has grown up around the existing SWG3 in the course of the last year. In the GSS car park, Lowsalt have taken over with two shipping containers, a barbecue and a trestle bar on the cusp of an overgrown wasteland and a railway line. Of such makeshift materials dreams are made. Artist Will Foster uses one container to create a viewing platform, part of his project of encouraging the audience to investigate the realities and potentials of this peripheral location. Tin can telephones are strung across the scrubland, while binoculars lie on plinths beside toy chalk boards, playfully encouraging the viewer to take an exaggeratedly close look at their environment and respond. In the other container, Lowsalt present a (very) mini retrospective of their back catalogue of programming. The tiny space filled with video and photo documentation of 3 years’ worth of events is pleasingly incongruous, the sense of restricted means being stretched to their very limits appropriately reflective of the self-determination of Lowsalt’s ethos.

Next stop on Eastvale Place is ten til ten, transplanted from its Tradeston warehouse to a much more intimate (yes, smaller) white cube-like space. Bobby Niven’s Dawson City, works created by the artist during a residency in Dawson City, Yukon, in the frozen North West of Canada, is complemented by this space. The white of the walls reflects the white of the dazzling snow of his video works and photos. The artist combines materials man made and animal to create humour, reflection, a meditation on the relationships between us and them. In one photgraph an icy dog turd looms in a snowbound scene, icicle legs and the suggestion of a face creating the odd impression of a giant frozen shit sculpture. On a plinth rests a vast moose antler covered in expanding foam, its tips painted in nail varnish. This strange desecration creates a tension between humour and guilt, the form of the finished work parodying a cartoon monster, as the reality of the materials involved leaves the viewer feeling complicit in the humiliation of a mighty beast.

Last on the street is SWG3, the Studio Warehouse that seems to be constantly transforming itself into something more innovative. On this particular night it hosts ‘Jamie Radcliffe’ The Exhibition, featuring works by over 50 artists local and international for one night only. The theme is one Jamie Radcliffe, an 'upholsterer and part time football player from Hartlebury, England'. Each artist strives to celebrate this average-looking and sounding man, obsessively repeating his image into the shape of a vast wall-based tongue of the Stones variety; breaking apart his name and melding it with another; presenting the suddenly sinister Royal Mail notification of undelivered mail for one Jamie Radcliffe at a Glasgow address. The exhibition playfully explores crushes and desires, at times imitating the ritual of the teenager attempting to find a meaning in these unknown, overpowering emotions, at times alluding to something darker in the realm of stalking and obsession. Engaging and stimulating, Jamie Radcliffe proves a fitting ending to a night of Glasgow galleries, providing serious work infused with a sense of humour.