Seeing Things Review of Trips at Glasgow International

The Seeing Things group had a great series at trips seeing just some of the shows by fantastic women artists that were on as part of Glasgow International Festival in April. We went to shows, had workshops and tours at galleries and venues across the city including Tramway; Centre for Contemporary Art; Glasgow School of Art; Glasgow Women’s Library; The Albus; Glasgow Sculpture Studios and David Dale along with others. Here’s a round up of our thoughts on just some of the trips we went to as part of the festival!


Seeing Things at David Dale, April, 2016
Seeing Things at David Dale, April, 2016

Tramway’s exhibition was a group show which featured works included in the GI Director’s Programme. Artists included were Sheila Hicks, Lawrence Lek, Amy Siegel; Alexandra Bircken; and Mika Rottenberg.

Linda: I really liked bits and pieces of most of the works in the exhibition. It would have been good to have been able to spend a bit more time with the video works in particular, but there was a lot to get through. It was nice to see the gallery busy too. I thought Lawrence Lek’s work was quite stylish and thought it was a clever idea. I went to the Sheila Hicks talk at GWL just before GI Festival. It was nice to see her work in situ after seeing her video introduction, but I was actually expecting the work to be a little more interactive. It was impressive though.

Donna: I liked the video works by Mika Rottenberg. They were really quirky, but focused on some quite serious subjects like workers exploitation. Sheila Hicks work was also really good, but it would have been better if it had had more of its own space in the show. It would have given a better sense of the scale of the piece and its relationship to the building.

Seeing Things looking at Alexandra Bircken's work at Tramway, April 2016. Credit: Linda Woodburn
Seeing Things looking at Alexandra Bircken’s work at Tramway, April 2016. Credit: Linda Woodburn

Our trip to Glasgow School of Art and the Centre for Contemporary Art was a great day out. We spent a long time with the show at GSA, Serena Korda’s Hold Fast, Stand Sure, I Scream a Revolution, looking at the porcelain mushroom sculpture suspended from the ceiling, and the archive displays which documented the radical history of the area (including the Women’s Library!). The women that attended the trip remarked that though they really liked the look of the sculptures, it was not immediately clear how the sculptures related to the history of the area. In discussions however, we thought about the links that the artist was making between the growth of mushrooms, which grow and disperse through a series of intricate networks, and the way the radical communities evolve through networks of people. As one member of the group put it: if you metaphorically feed people poo, and keep them in the dark, then they’ll adopt radical practices (good and bad) – the similarity to mushrooms is definitely there!

At the CCA, we spent quite a bit of time with both exhibitions. We went into Alberta Whittle and Deniz Uster’s the Polity of Φ first, an exhibition which invited people to undertake a Citizenship test to become a citizen of a new planet. Some of the group did the test, which was comprised of pages of multi-choice questions about different countries in the world. It was tough, and we’re waiting to hear whether Seeing Things will pass the test and get their citizenship!

Also at the CCA, we enjoyed the Pilvi Takla show. Takla is an artist who wears a number of hats, putting herself into a variety of work situations or social situations, and gently undermining often unspoken social codes and rules to reveal them and make fun of them. Her work is quite funny, and these acts of every day defiance are recorded by Takla mainly through videos which document her actions. The group really enjoyed the show, finding her interventions in public spaces and work spaces amusing and revealing.

Linda: I liked the video where she visited the European Parliament. She was wandering around in and out of the building, something which people are allowed to do, but which is strictly monitored. She was finding that she couldn’t go down certain corridors, or couldn’t leave at certain times, and the videos revealed the nonsense of the rules and regulations that are in places like Parliament buildings.

Anabel:  The idea of being unusual, or behaving unusually makes people feel uncomfortable. When you do things that don’t conform to what’s expected of you, you can really get to people.

Our trip around Bridgeton was our penultimate visit to GI 2016. We visited the shows on in our own area, including Speaking Volumes at GWL by My Bookcase. The exhibition drew together inspiring texts from artists, curators and other creatives involved in the Glasgow International Festival. At its centre, was a Commonplace Book from the GWL collection, which contained snippets of text selected by a woman from the southside of Glasgow of interesting things she had read.

Anabel: The books were lovely, and the Commonplace book from the Glasgow Women’s Library collection was a really nice touch, and an unusual kind of thing to see. It was quite unexpected, but really beautiful and captured the spirit of the show.

After GWL, our tour of Bridgeton took us a group exhibition in the Albus building by artists Helen De Main, Samanatha Donnelly, James McClardy, Carla Scott Fullerton and Rallou Panngiotou:

Linda: The setting for this show was lovely, and quite unusual as it is normally an office building. I thought it actually worked really well as a gallery. It was bright and airy. I liked the work – a lot of it was quite tactile and not what I was expecting.

Linda on 'the set' of Sol Calero, Desde el Jardin, David Dale, 2016
Linda on ‘the set’ of Sol Calero, Desde el Jardin, David Dale, 2016

Finally, we stopped in at David Dale, a new destination for the group and a gallery that most members had not been to before. Sol Calero’s show at David Dale took its cues from the set of a tele novella, and was a hit with the group who were not expecting it at all!

Linda: It was just like being on a set. It was really colourful – there was lots of brightly coloured wallpaper, and clothing lying around. Everything was a bit trashy, but it was all really nice arranged. Sometimes you found really unexpected things lying around like a gun! I really enjoyed it, and thought it was definitely one of the more fun things we’d seen during GI.

We loved all of the shows we saw at Glasgow International. It’s a fantastic festival with so much to go and see. We’d like to thank all of the galleries who hosted us as part of Glasgow International. Bring on 2018!


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