CCA Highlights – January/February 2016

Artists, musicians and documentarians mobilise against the January blues: we select some gems for the disenfranchised from the CCA's bulging brochure

Preview by George Sully | 11 Jan 2016

It is now the year 2016, which is, certifiably, the future. We may only have motorised handle-free segways instead of flying cars, but at this rate we’ll take what we can get – Cameron’s Britain and all that. In fact, the state of the world is leaving many despairing – Biff may well actually end up being president of the free world after all, if America isn’t careful – and as we venture into yet another year, where can we turn for reflection, inspiration or empowerment? You’ve read the headline to this article: Glasgow’s CCA, that’s where.

We kick off our recommendations with a halcyonic triple bill of Scottish folk artists, playing together at the annual winter music festival Celtic Connections. In conjunction with BBC Radio Scotland, the CCA has played host to many top festival acts (all broadcast live, too) over the years, with our man about town Vic Galloway bringing a special selection as part of his own show. This year he referees emerging folk bros JR Green, lissom trad-rock outfit Trembling Bells, and autumnal maestro C Duncan (Mon 18 Jan).

But, it can’t all be sweet folk melodies. As an emerging voice for the dispossessed, bitter punk-slash-hip-hop duo Sleaford Mods have enjoyed a growing buzz in recent years, thanks to their incendiary, topical lyrics and energetic live performances. Invisible Britain (Sat 30 Jan) is a documentary of their 2015 tour around some of the country’s most neglected areas, blending gig videos with insightful interviews, attempting to highlight the far-reaching and arguably overlooked effects of our current government.

(Continues below)

 John Grant, Massive Attack and the best live music in Scotland this month

 Scottish film highlights for January 2016: Tarantino, Nordic Film Festival and more

For activism of a more international sensibility, the University of Glasgow-funded GRAMNet (Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network) brings together ‘researchers, practitioners and policy makers working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland,’ and draws together regular talks, film screenings and workshops. In February we’ve picked out two highlights: the first is Palestinian Embroidery: Empowering Women and Strengthening Communities (Glasgow Women's Library, Tue 9 Feb). Focusing on the rich heritage of domestic textile techniques, passed down through generations of Palestinian women, designer Claire Anderson is running a series of workshops culminating in a final exhibition. These sessions are for women only, but open to all skill levels.

The second is a screening of the equally empowering documentary Queens of Syria (Wed 10 Feb), part of Hidden Stories, the latest edition of the Film Series organised by GRAMNet at BEMIS Scotland (a national body supporting ethnic minorities). In 2013, 50 Syrian refugee women came together in Jordan to perform a retelling of Euripides’ ancient tragedy The Trojan Women, a play following the fates of grieving, exiled wives after the sack of Troy. This award-winning film relates the rehearsals before the final performance, and is a moving, often harrowing insight into these women’s experiences, with many conscious parallels drawn between the source text and their contemporary circumstances.

And though not at all explicitly political, we must recommend this last show. Emmie McLuskey and former Skinny Showcase artist Mary Wintour team up for I Thought You Knew (Sat 13 Feb-Sat 5 Mar, not Mon-Wed), an exhibition of sculpture and painting (respectively), informed by the pair’s previous collaborations. Both investigate the effects of recontextualising everyday, domestic objects and situations, and together create a ‘shared, underlining narrative between works.’ McLuskey explores the sculptural interplay between colour, form, and the implicit stories in everyday materials, while Wintour's painting transposes the familiar into the unfamiliar, inspired in part by the constructed realities (and pregnant inertia) of film set stills.