Own Art: Glasgow International 2014

As Scotland occupies an important place on the world stage this year, welcoming the world to celebrate all our cultural achievements with us, maybe it’s time to be a tourist again in your home city?

Feature by Kate Andrews | 01 Apr 2014
  • Charlotte Prodger, Richard Chain, 2014

Glasgow International, which launches its sixth edition on 4 April, has a knack for unearthing disused and overlooked spaces in the city for repurposing or reinvigorating. This year’s programme, the debut of director Sarah McCrory, invites an even more engaged exploration. Alongside a packed programme in the city’s gallery and museum spaces, the 18-day festival invites visitors to explore the vibrancy of the local culture through its creative produce while locals have the opportunity to make intrepid discoveries on their doorstep by rediscovering or re-imagining these lost urban spaces. 

To coincide with the launch of the festival, Glasgow International are producing a suite of new print editions in close collaboration with artists featured in the Director’s Programme: Avery Singer, Aleksandra Domanovic, Jordan Wolfson, Sue Tompkins and Anthea Hamilton & Nicholas Byrne will follow in the footsteps of  Jeremy Deller to create work for sale which both celebrates and supports the ethos of GI – the profits are channelled back into the future festival programme. In the same way that their own commissions were funded, money raised from sales contributes towards future incarnations. McCrory praises the support of artists who are willing to “add to the pot” to continue the self-perpetuating model. She says, “They are all very generous by allowing their work to be sold to support the festival – we are really grateful.” By investing in the future of festival it will be possible to continue the kind of support which will keep the vast majority of the programme (currently over 90%) free to attend.

Ranging between £80 and £500, the Own Art scheme can be used to purchase the majority of these editions whose creators were specifically approached by McCrory for their ability to create something striking and interesting relative to their GI project. These projects include those shown in the programme of ‘other’ spaces of this year's GI, including an underground car park, the former site of the Camp Coffee factory and a shopping centre.

Amongst these unorthodox spaces is the Govanhill Baths which will be occupied by Anthea Hamilton and Nicholas Byrne’s free-standing inflatable sculptures based on appropriated advertising, popular culture and psychedelia. The pair are producing  a collaborative edition for sale based on this work which looks set to be a firm crowd-pleaser.  For those who wish to record such work by investing in a purchase McCrory has the following advice: “See what catches your eye, maybe read a bit about the artist and feel free to ask whoever is selling it to talk about the work. They should be good at it!  Sometimes it’s intimidating but do ask. There may be themes or ideas that add to the enjoyment of a work you may be attracted to on a purely aesthetic level… It’s great that contemporary art enthusiasts will get to take a bit of the exhibition home with them through a print.”

McCrory ‘s attitude to buying art is refreshingly relaxed: “I do own prints and editions, and one or two unique pieces given to me by friends; I’m not sure that qualifies me as a collector. Just an enthusiast… My pieces are very varied and just things I like. Quite the opposite of curating. I’m happy to be quite amateur with what I own and live with at home.

“Own Art is great. It’s a no-brainer really. An interest free loan to buy art? Brilliant. It means that people who can’t afford to buy unique works of art (me!) can start to collect editions and smaller works.  Some of the best collections in the world have started with very modest pieces.”

Glasgow International, 4-21 Apr http://glasgowinternational.org