Opening at Edinburgh’s Summerhall in January, a show of contemporary Scottish art entitled Archipelago, runs until the 17th March.
The exhibition came about from preliminary conversations at Gray’s around the work of the German biologist and illustrator Ernst Haeckel, and his semi-legendary two volumes of botanical illustration Kunstformen der Natur done in 1899-1904. From these early discussions the artists began to think of the idea of an Archipelago as a metaphor for independent art practices that take place away from the familiar venues in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The contributions of each artist can be read as a solo show, but the exhibition is better followed when the viewer consider the parallels between the three visually different but subtly inter-linked practices on display. From Alan Grieve’s scabrous humour, derived from observations of everyday life and legends from the worlds of football, clubbing and music in Dunfermline, to Blyth’s subtle, beautifully produced new suite of prints focusing on an imaginative response to landscape, symbol and material, to Guild’s cannily arranged visual tricks and puns, orientated around a passionate engagement with the history of art and the natural world, this is a show which is a statement of attitude as much as anything else. It is an exhibition that offers a view of art practices taking place in the so-called “peripheries” of Scotland and suggest that such practices will become ever more important in a rapidly changing landscape of cultural funding and consumption.
The exhibition can be seen at Summerhall’s Meadows gallery. The show is accompanied by a full colour 48 page catalogue, with an essay by Jon Blackwood and representative samples of all the artist’s work. It is published by Summerhall and TP Sandinista, Skopje. This can be obtained from Summerhall, whilst a high quality .pdf version is accessible from RGU’s Open Air research repository.
Archipelago: New Work by Three Contemporary Scottish Artists is on show at Summerhall, Edinburgh until March 17th.