This Week in Scottish Art: Embassy & GSA Openings

It's the first of the new year's art roundups, with new exhibitions in Edinburgh and Glasgow, performance events and the screening of a new work by Rachel Maclean.

Article by Adam Benmakhlouf | 12 Jan 2016

For established poetry and performance night Babaloose, it’s a new year and a new venue. Having positioned itself as the most regular poetry reading, performance, and general open mic in Glasgow, and outgrowing its old digs in Trongate, Babaloose takes place on Tuesday 12 Jan in The Glue Factory. As part of its latest expansion, there will be a new monthly publication entitled There is No Alternative, with new and collected writings on themes of grassroots initiatives and direct political action. All are welcome, so this is one event that you might be taking a leading role in if you can scratch together a poem or two, or source one to read before 7pm.

Earlier in the evening, also in the Glue Factory, there is a private view for Obliques, an art exhibition in three parts. It requests RSVPs to be sent to The exhibition will continue until 7 Feb, and imagines curation as “a load of nonsense”, describing the works to be featured as made by the artists “based on texts and object imagery produced by a game of randomness.” See the website for the full list of artists, and the dates of the different parts of the show.

This week is the last chance to visit the Turner Prize in Glasgow's Tramway. After the win by the architectural collective Assemble, there has been controversy regarding this kind of work being recognised as contemporary art, and whether that's appropriate – read our breakdown of the significance of the decision here. On Thursday 14 Jan, the gallery also has an artist’s talk from Turner nominee Nicole Wermers, on her evocative installation of furs sewn onto ubiquitous Cesca chairs. Starts 7pm, tickets £3(5).

Assemble's Showroom for Granby Workshop

On the same date, there is a free and unticketed event at 7pm in Transmission, an extended artist talk by Glasgow-based Andrew Black. Working across painting, performance and installation, Black “addresses a number of his own constructed personas,” including “the artist  …. the homosexual male … the painter and the writer, the performer and the collaborator”. There’s a struggling intimacy across his performances and paintings, and also a literal self-interrogation as he talks with himself on screen, or in paintings of himself during sex.

From Friday 15 Jan, there is a new exhibition in the Glasgow School of Art Gallery in the new Reid Building Gallery. For this special commission, artist Rachel Lowther has gone through the archives of the Glasgow School of Art looking for the activities that took place within the school during the First World War. In one of the new works, sculptures of the human body have been meticulously crafted only to be attacked with a pick axe. Across different disciplines, Lowther further explores relevant materials from the School’s Archive and Collections WWI Holdings in a concurrent exhibition outside the main gallery space.

Also on 15 Jan, setBackground – a new exhibition opening in Edinburgh's Embassy – is previewed from 7-10pm, and includes a new online work commission by Berlin-based artist Sebastian Schmieg, whose work is inspired by media such as out-of-office replies and Google searches. Friday will also mark the launch of the new design of the Embassy website. setBackground will continue from 16-31 January.

Rounding off the week very nicely, there is the screening of the new film by artist Rachel Maclean on Sunday 17 Jan in the GFT at 8.40pm. Here’s our interview with Maclean from 2014’s GFF, when she received the Margaret Tait Award. In her deft and labour-intensive films, she plays every part, using costumes, prosthetic makeup and green screen effects to build up different characters and interactions. Tickets are charged at usual GFT rates. Maclean discusses the new work in this video:

Finally, NVA, the public art group behind Speed of Light and Ghost Peloton, are looking for volunteers for their Hinterland production at this year’s Festival of Architecture. Hinterland will see St Peter’s Seminary, Scotland’s most iconic modernist ruin, opened to the public for the first time in more than two decades. The event runs from 18-27 March – info on the volunteer roles on offer can be found on the NVA website, with a 6 February deadline for applications.