Work outside the gallery and work that deals with antagonisms in Scotland
The Darien Scheme to start a Scottish colony on Darien, Panama, in Central America and turn Scotland into an imperial power. William Patterson devised the Darien Scheme and he invited the public to invest. And they did – in a big way. Within weeks a vast proportion of the nation’s wealth had been subscribed. The Darien Chest was used to store money and documents associated with the Company of Scotland trading to Africa and the Indies, a trading company set up to facilitate the colonisation.
The Darien Disaster: Photographer Steven Reynolds travelled to Caledonia, an island in the Darien region of Panama. It is one of the last traces of the Darien Venture, the failed Scottish (Caledonian) project to become the centre of world trade. It’s failure in 1700 led to the act of union with England and the loss of Scottish independence.“(This project was) an attempt at creating a meme in a psychogeographical area (Darien), which resides in the Scottish psyche and would usher in a new era of positive thinking.”This idea of meme is something that has become prolific with ideas, images and videos going viral on the internet. More specifically though a meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. Basically, memes , means ideas as virusesSo in Reynold’s work he graffitied “Scotland will win the world cup”on this wall in the Darien region in order to provoke a recovery and a sense of optimism regarding the future of Scotland that opposed the characteristic pessimism and gloomyperspective that is seen to permeate the nation, remember the clip from Trainspotting I showed you with its opening gambit of “Scotland’s shite”?
a picture of a Kuna indian albino in Darien, who Reynold’s describes as looking very very very Scottish but isn't at all, and he told me that people generally think the photograph was taken in Clydebank or another Scottish working class area.Kuna Yala (also known as the San Blas Islands), an autonomous state of indians who originally settled in the Darien area of Panama after fleeing Colombia in the 1600s. Life here has been carefully - and tenaciously - frozen in time.Kuna Yala is a strip of land and string of 365 islands which stretch 320km (200 miles) along the Caribbean coast. In 1925 an armed group of Kuna Yala inhabitants attacked the Panamanian police who had been involved in the violent suppression of Kuna cultural practices by the government and in 1930 they were granted their independence rather in the way Scotland has its own administration.Aware of the anthropological Reynold’s workis informed by issues of identity, culture and power Issues of identity are crucial to postmodernism
RabiyaChoudhry is a painter who is Glasgow-born but Edinburgh-based. She creates works that are iconographically complex, deceptively simple images that draw together word and image, influences from art history, music and pop culture to explore ideas of love, loss and cultural identity.References in this work, Brain Deid to Alasdair Grey’s novel LanarkChoudhry makes opaque images, which competes in complexity with Gray’s draughtsmanship and his predilection for the decorative
Both artists work relay their idiosyncratic imaginations Both present uncompromising responses to the social realities that permeate societyChoudhry’s work, such as this painting ‘moona mother paki lover and the coffee coloured children’, highlights tensions embedded in growing up in Glasgow with a Scottish, white mother who converted from Christianity to Islam when she met and married Choudhry’s Pakistani father.‘Moona Mother Paki Lover: and the coffee coloured children’ is reminiscent of children’s taunts, yet filtered through adult consciousness Choudhry not only exposes language as a mechanism of power and control but she corrodes it. She asks us, the reader of the image, to confront society’s prejudice and demonstrates the way in which the invisible codes and structures of language permeate our understanding and experience of the world.
Choudhry’s paintings deal largely with identity and social interactions and social relations, and often explores our sense of self and the ways in which elements of our cultural lives contribute to the existence of our social being and the ways in which those beings are understood by society. Her work oftenexposes the discriminatory abuse that exist in society. Her paintings are loosely based on memories and dreams, therefore reality is malleable, symbolic and irrational. Again there is a parallel to be drawn with Alasdair Gray as both make images that oscillate between observational and hallucinatory.
Another Glaswegian artist that I want to discuss is Stuart Murray, who like Alasdair Gray and RabiyaChoudhry has a predilection for sharp language. All three artists expose the nature of hierarchal dictionwith their use of the Glaswegian vernacular.Their realities are spoken with defiance, recycling a typical working class sensibility often by offsetting emotions with ‘comic relief’.Stuart Murray's observational drawings People I've Met While Working profiles the customers Murray encounters while doing his round as a familiar postman in the East End of Glasgow every weekday. They form a picture of a disintegrating community: families looking out for each other's Giros arriving, a blind man who has no helpers, lonely elderly women looking for a bit of company. The narrative returns to the chronic waste of talent and its impact on ambition and opportunity.
Murray's work is a sharp reminder of why there are still so many marketing campaigns to window-dress the image of Glasgow by selling it as a premier shopping destination. He represents the population left behind by technological change and left out of the gentrification process - in other words, the majority of the city's inhabitants.
Murray, who looks like he has stepped out of Gray's painting Cowcaddens in the 1950s (1964)
Stuart Murray's work is highly observational with a strong element of social commentary.Among the themes he has explored/is exploring are gentrification, homelessness and begging, working and the workplace, drinking and pub culture.An overall theme that emerges is that of everyday life and ordinary people trying to survive.
Murray’s work makes a statement about the aspirations of the people in an area where desperation, through poverty and crime, is common. His work speaks of local issues, local memories and the concerns of the people who live there. In this case the regeneration of areas of Glasgow in the lead up to the Commonwealth games next year
Essentially these works are portraits, but they complicates and deconstructs that form to reveal sometimes unsettling insights, in this instance sectarianism
The rivalry between Rangers and Celtic supporters is well documented, as are the broad political and religious allegiances of each group. The supporters’ clubs are of course fictitious, andthe portraits of the two protagonists are likewise ‘fakes’ – they are appropriated images of two people who are imbued with the essence of the real individual’s actions. This play on the illusionary captures the false reality of all separating allegiances, whether national, religious or political.
The men in 'Work in Progress' are wearing either Inter Milan or AC Milan football team shirts. The type of portrait is familiar from football publicity photographs, where the players stare ahead with their arms held behind their backs. However, instead of being Italian sportsmen, the players are from amateur five-a-side Glasgow teams. Their separation into two sets alludes to the need of individuals to lend themselves a separate identity, while at the same time maintaining common bonds of knowledge and agreed opinion. The implied rivalry echoes the competition between the two Glasgow football teams, Rangers and Celtic.
Rachel MacleanTae Think AgainA synthetic visceral, edible space in which Mary Queen of Scots dines with the 'it' girls of Sex and the City
Week 5 spirit of '68?
ContemporaryScottish ArtPractice(1945-present)Week 5: Spirit of ’68?
• Social movements are not merely political activities, they provide spaces forcultural and artistic growth and experimentation• Potentially one of the powers of art is its ability to convey the humanaspects of political events. Art can also transform society
The Darien Chest, National Museumof Scotland, Edinburgh• The Darien Scheme to start aScottish colony on Darien, Panama,in Central America and turnScotland into an imperial power.• William Patterson devised theDarien Scheme and he invited thepublic to invest. Within weeks avast proportion of the nation’swealth had been subscribed.• The Darien Chest was used to storemoney and documents associatedwith the Company of Scotlandtrading to Africa and the Indies, atrading company set up to facilitatethe colonisation.
“(This project was) an attempt at creating a meme in a psychogeographicalarea (Darien), which resides in the Scottish psyche and would usher in a newera of positive thinking.”Steven Reynolds
Kuna indian albino boy in DarienImage courtesy of Steven ReynoldsIn 1925 an armed group of KunaYala inhabitants attacked thePanamanian police who had beeninvolved in the violent suppressionof Kuna cultural practices by thegovernment.In 1930 they were granted theirindependence rather in the wayScotland has its ownadministration.
Rabiya ChoudhryBraindeid(2006)Drawing of the Elitecafé, from Alasdair Gray’sLanark: A life in four books(1952-1976)
Rabiya ChoudhryMoona mother paki lover and thecoffee coloured children(2004)Moona Mother Paki Lover:and the coffee colouredchildren is reminiscent ofchildren’s taunts, yet filteredthrough adult consciousness.Choudhry not only exposeslanguage as a mechanism ofpower and control but shecorrodes it.
Stuart MurrayPeople Ive Met While Workingself published Glasgow (2004)
Stuart MurrayAh! Hello Stuart!(2012)http://thefolkyebumpintae.wordpress.com
Murray’s work makes astatement about theaspirations of the peoplein an area wheredesperation, throughpoverty and crime, iscommon.His work speaks of localissues, local memories andthe concerns of the peoplewho live there.Stuart MurrayAright, no seen you doon here fura while…(2010)