Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2012

Here’s my write-up of an afternoon spent at the GI Festival in Glasgow – a celebration of visual and contemporary art in the City. We started off at the Gi Hub on Miller Street to see Rosalind Nashashibi’s film of Scottish Ballet rehearsals. It’s a lovely piece that lets you eavesdrop on the locals who are in to see rehearsals, including an older lady who comments on how young and supple the dancers are! It also lets you hear how arduous the dancers find the rehearsals, there’s a lot of heavy breathing, and it finishes with two policemen whose blank expression makes it hard to work out exactly what they think of the dancers.

We then headed off to Trongate 103. In the Glasgow Print Studio we saw Adrian Wiszniewski’s work which consisted of large canvases. As part of the group known as the New Glasgow Boys he helped bring Glasgow to the attention of the national and international art world and I remember seeing his work in the Gallery of Modern Art when it first opened. We particularly liked the very small coloured sketches made on gesso – they were delicate and beautiful. If only we had the money to purchase ….

Also in Trongate 103 we visited Street Level Photoworks where we saw Marjolaine Ryley’s photographic project. This is a really interesting exhibition and the photography is supplemented by beautifully written thoughts on her early life. As a child she lived in a commune in the South of France and a squat in London and all of this is covered in this exhibition.

We then headed off to Glasgow Green which looked fantastic on this sunny day in Glasgow. There were groups of young people playing cricket and football and a large crowd for Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege. This is an interactive artwork which is an inflatable made to resemble Stonehenge. Deller is a previous Turner Prize winner who has exhibited at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow and this work will head off to London for the 2012 Games later in the year. It was packed full of school children (and many adults too!) bouncing around and having a lot of fun. We decided just to take photographs … it all looked too energetic for us and just a little bit too crowded!! This public artwork definitely puts a smile on your face.

We walked from Glasgow Green down to The Briggait where we saw One Person’s Materialism is Another Person’s Romanticism. This is a fantastic space and the 1873 Hall renovation is impressive. We sat on a very low red plastic sofa to view the video piece Venice by Anthea Hamilton. You must see the Yogic John Travolta – inspired! Do not sit on the red sofa if you are over 30 though … I had immense trouble getting off the thing … I had to slide onto the floor and then use my knees to stand up. Not very graceful. I also liked Anthea Hamilton’s costume, which greets you as you enter, called Pasta and Noodles – very 1980s!

From The Briggait we walked along to the Gallery of Modern Art to see Karla Black’s sculpture made entirely of sawdust. It’s a fantastic piece, very impressive, with cellophane sculptures hanging across. It fills the entire hall of Gallery 1 and looks good enough to eat – we thought it looked like a large Tiramasau.

Finally we headed down to Dixon Street. First we called in at the Mary Mary Gallery to see Lorna Macintyre’s Midnight Scenes and Other Works which have a very distinct diamond motif throughout and are very thoughtful pieces. We finished at the Kendall Koppe Gallery and Emory Douglas’s work with the Black Panthers. Douglas is an American artist and activist who provided many of the images which those of us who lived in the 60s and 70s will remember. The messges are very strong but I really liked the mix of the political with the art and this exhibition in particular has stayed with me.

If you are new to contemporary art I would recommend Emory Douglas at the Kendall Koppe Gallery, Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege in Glasgow Green and Adrian Wiszniewski at the Glasgow Print Studio to start you off. They are all great in their own way and offer a window into the contemporary art world.

For more information on the GI Festival go to