Wrought, Raised 'n' Forged

The works are to a certain extent concept-driven yet combine this with a quality of workmanship rarely seen in contemporary Scottish galleries

Feature by Rosamund West | 17 Mar 2006

Wrought, Raised 'n' Forged - the title of this two-man show conjures up images of an abandoned past of industry and toil, of a time when men were men and sculptures were big and solid and took some time and effort to make. In their accompanying statements the artists continue to evoke these images, speaking in the opaque language of myth and legend, of lifting weights so great they cause retching, of medallions and horns and embarking on quests. The message seems to be clear - this is a display of manly art with an emphasis on the making.

Scott Laverie and Stephen Murray were selected from the membership of the Embassy gallery to each receive a five-week residency at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Lumsden, Aberdeenshire last August. Here they present the fruits of their labours.

Laverie, an ECA graduate, is based in the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and has previously exhibited in the Collective Gallery's project space. His work in this show is in a variety of media, a disjointed triptych entitled 'The Reign of Ludieke'. It involves a large wooden construction, a small wall-mounted view-finder-alike of glass and wood and images, and a stop-motion film piece with choral accompaniment. The wooden construction is a sort of elevated viewing platform with a ladder and a seat which the audience is encouraged to scale and occupy. There is also projection involved, although it was proving problematic on the opening night. The video piece is particularly intriguing, the stop-motion unfolding and refolding of the wooden construction, accompanied by a chorus reminiscent of a communist morale booster, creating an impression of the work being a relic of an industrial past, an impression belied by the quality of finish (or perhaps the state of preservation) and the presence of the artist among the constructed images. The works are to a certain extent concept-driven yet combine this with a quality of workmanship rarely seen in contemporary Scottish galleries, conforming to the artist's stated intention of "pursuing knowledge through the reactivation of old methods."

Stephen Murray's work seems to be in a similar vein to that of Laverie, his 'We Hold Aloft' tower-like structure supported by miniature figures complementing Laverie's adjoining viewing platform in terms of physicality and workmanship. The miniature figures also allude to communist-alike notions, the struggle of the little man turned to a great feat of strength through the collaboration of the collective. His other piece, the bizarrely-named 'My Father Ate Me But Still I Conquered (The Face, The Horn)', is something of a 3D collage, a collection of made objects on a smaller scale contributing to from a kind of narrative. The twisted hand-like forms in the centre of the room are vaguely reminiscent of Louise Bourgeois, adding a lighter touch to a display which initially appears to be concerned only with the solid construction, the wrought, the forged.

In general, the show combines the overt masculinity of the title, the valid concern with workmanship and making, with a subtlety of touch, a conceptual drive and an ephemerality of meaning which creates a pleasing duality and a provoking display.

Embassy Gallery until March 4.