Glasgow International

Feature by Jasper Hamill | 16 Apr 2006

In it's second year, the Glasgow International purports to be an opportunity for Glasgow based artists to expose their work to global scrutiny. The festival was started last year by Francis McKee, the diminutive titan of Glasgow's Art Scene, lecturer on the Glasgow MFA course and essayist, who recognised that a major event would help to unify the disparate work made in Glasgow and cement the city within an international context. Glaswegian Artists, from grassroots up, have already achieved an international presence with Transmission putting on shows in New York, countless artists nominated for prizes and the city recognised as being a primary locus of diverse cultural activity, from installation to pop music. On the side of every bus and emblazoned all over the city, the event will also be a demotic stab at publicising the work to a public that might not otherwise have engaged with it.

This year, the CCA acts as the drop-in centre for the many art-tourists that will descend upon the city. Already playing host to the Beck's Futures, which will be incorporated into GI, the CCA will give information, host events and help direct bewildered gallery-goers around the city. Work has been commissioned by thirty-two spaces, including a few off-site pieces. Last year, the festival truly achieved the international mantle it had placed itself upon, with an exhibition at the Tramway exhibiting work from the Mexican Jumex Collection - a gallery owned by the country's largest sof-drink manufacturer - and, my favourite, a disembodied head, made almost photorealistic by a mosaic technique, placed in wasteland on the road towards Glasgow's East End.

This year, the festival has attracted both big-name artists and a clutch of artists already working in the city. Patti Smith, famous for her poetry and singing, has a 'passionate belief in the cathartic and redemptive power of art,' and will be exhibiting work in the lofty setting of the Mitchell Library. Representing Glasgow, the group Something Haptic, whose previous work includes an abortive ferris wheel constructed to a size limited by the confines of its space, have undertaken a sculptural intervention in the city centre, whilst a host of other galleries have commissioned similar work. A major exhibition will open at the Glasgow Modern Art Gallery, which last year interminably exhibited an installation by Barbara Kruger, showing sculptures from the Arts Council's collection at the Hayward, including Sarah Lucas's 'Willy,' shown to the left. Masses of exhibitions will be staged in the city, with all the openings seemingly on the same Saturday, and hopefully the event will encourage the perceptions of both artists and the disinterested public.

GI runs froms April 19 - May 1. See Arts Listings for further details.