Scottish Art News: January 2016

Bargain Spot sees its last exhibition in its current space this month, while Transmission schedules three artist talks, and established painter Merlin James exhibits new work in the CCA.

Article by Adam Benmakhlouf | 13 Jan 2016

Why not start the year with some art events and openings? In Edinburgh, Embassy open their new show setBackground on 15 Jan from 7-10pm. This will include a new online work by Sebastian Schmieg, (also a part of the relaunch of the Embassy website designed by London-based painter Hannah Knights) – working in Berlin, Schmieg uses found materials and custom software as materials to examine the way contemporary technologies shape online and offline realities. setBackground continues until 31 Jan.

Staying in Edinburgh, on 15 Jan between 6-8pm, Bargain Spot Project Space returns to 12 Earl Grey Street for a preview of another show, entitled Objects from the Temperate Palm House. Curators Chloe Reith and Kirsty White have put together a group of international artists with objects from the archive of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh, with the show running from 16 Jan-27 Feb.

The next week, painter Merlin James presents Long Game, an exhbition containing new works and others from throughout his career. Across his painting and writing practices, James’ work is conscious of painting as both a medium and a means of bringing art history into view. His easel works, for example, use this established and recognisable genre specifically to work with its historical associations, and take seriously the material elements of painting: form, colour, composition, tone. More recently, James has begun to make considered frames and small objects from canvas and wooden stretchers, and as additions to the painted works. Long Game previews at Glasgow's CCA on 22 Jan, 7-9pm, running until 13 Mar.

(Continues below)

More events in January:

 Screening Europe: Film events in Edinburgh and Glasgow

 Optimo, David Rodigan and more – Scottish clubbing highlights

From 23 Jan in the Glasgow Sculpture Studios, there is a new exhibition: The Transparent Tortoiseshell and the Un-ripe Banana. All the artists included in this group show have an interest in positioning their sculptural work within a space more conventionally reserved for still life painting. Between them, they use everyday objects to make compositions and assemblages that, in their own words, 'play with our sense of what those objects are commonly used or known for.' As well as interest in the common ground of painting and sculpture, there is a sense across all the artists included that the work is not static or that it implies some 'live activation.' The Transparent Tortoiseshell and the Un-Ripe Banana continues until 5 Mar.

Throughout January, Transmission in Glasgow has organised three artist talks – times TBA, so keep an eye on their new website ( First off is Andrew Black on 16 Jan: in recent performances, he presents written texts that undercut and complicate his own voice with self-questioning and doubt. Informed by queer readings and politics, he frustrates any easy assumption of subjectivity or selfhood. Then, on 23 Jan, Dianne Torr discusses her career in performance, dance and 'physical philosophy.'  During 30 years in New York, she has refined her artistic career as part of the downtown art scene. Lastly, on 28 Jan, Erica Scourti will deliver a talk on her video-based practice, in which she refers to self-subjectification processes. One particular strategy she uses is a self-satirisation within her performances.

Rounding off the month, Glasgow's Common Guild presents its first event of the year in Langside Hall. Sink Down Mountain, Rise Up Valley, by renowned German artist Ulla von Brandenburg, bases itself on the rituals of the Saint-Simonian Commune, founded immediately after the French Revolution. Its radical and progressive commitment to destroy all privilege informs von Brandenburg’s 'play for five actors and a chorus' ethos. Tickets are available from, price £8(5), and performances will take place 30 and 31 Jan, 6pm.