State of the Art Nation: Glasgow's Children of the Evolution

Feature by Amy Birchard | 01 Jan 2010
  • SWG3

The saying goes that when a recession hits and stock is down, skirt hemlines go up. So too, it would appear, do the motivations and aspirations of the nation's newest artists – moneymaking never really featured on most art grads' 'to do' lists. 

Glasgow, navigable on foot unlike London and its wearisome commutes, has a lot to offer gallery goers. Many newcomers walk in the wake of astute dealers such as Sorcha Dallas, whose Glasgow gallery has an increasingly well-regarded reputation internationally. Graduating from painting at GSA in 1998, Dallas and Marianne Greated founded Switchspace, producing a series of one-off contemporary exhibitions in unusual locations. 

More recently (six months ago to be precise) The Duchy, set up by Ainslie Roddick and Lauren Currie, has opened on Duke Street with a gallery and studio space. Say the curators: “We took advantage of the economic downturn by finding two properties with cheap rent in a central location”. Their approach heralds a return to painting and an emphasis on practitioner engagement.

In up and coming Bridgeton, four graduates, including photographer Max Slaven, have renovated a building and installed erstwhile classmates. David Dale’s twenty-foot gallery would have proved a financial impossibility in a la-di-dah location, but here occupants get value for money and gritty ‘garret chic’ into the bargain.

As the Scottish Arts Council tightens its belt to the last hole, a drastically diminished public budget demands ingenuity. SWG3 has recently raised its profile as a forum for both emerging and established artists, extending the runs of its exhibitions to give the public more opportunity to drop in, and streamlining its promotional methods. Their recent fundraising dinner used their reputation to good effect, an art A-list attendance ensuring the generation of impressive sums of money to channel back into the studios and gallery – a remarkable feat in present conditions.

Curator and artist Simon Gowing has this advice for young upstarts: “Offer your time in exchange for experience, but don't expect to get paid (nobody does!). 

“Transmission via the Chateaux and the Project Rooms, there's always room for something more and an audience that wants to know. A good party afterwards helps them remember - it is Glasgow after all.”