Exploring the Sublime @ Glasgow Museums Resource Centre Nitshill

These are just a few images from the tour at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC) with GoMA’s Associate Artist Rachel Mimiec, Dr. Joanna Meacock (Curator of British Art) and Polly Smith (Senior Conservator), both from Glasgow Museums. The idea for the tour grew out of discussions between Rachel, Polly and Jo when they were exploring works in the Glasgow Museums collection for Rachel’s exhibition PLOUGH at GoMA, which literally closed today.

The conversations, observations and delight in how each other began to discuss the works, in light of their own disciplines, were fascinating to be part of and we thought it would be an ideal opportunity to share that through the talks programme developed for PLOUGH.

Tours in GMRC are limited in numbers due to the nature of the building and we had 8 of us in total to follow Jo, Polly and Rachel as they unveiled paintings pulled out on the racks. They asked us to think about them in the context of 19th Century sublime (more on this in a brief summary of Jo’s talk on the playablespaces blog) and Rachel’s desire that it should retain these qualities when inverted and her concern with the aesthetic. This brought in Polly’s discipline. She spoke about reasons why certain paintings that might have been suitable in Jo and Rachel’s eyes were not able to be considered as they were too fragile to be inverted.

We had a fascinating afternoon and those on the tour also brought in some really interesting perspectives as well. I noted down some scraps of conversations:

“I love the play on words and  the cross between how conservation describes the surface of the painting; the cracking of the paint and movement of canvas over time. It’s just like a landscape of geology”

“the geology of the painting”

“does the age and dirt on a painting add to the sublimeness of it all?”

:What we look for in the aesthetic changes over time as does the work itself”

“the microclimate of a painting” this followed a lovely description by Polly about how they glaze works to protect them.

Gloom of Glen Ogle,1875 Smart, John (1838   1899, Scottish)
Gloom of Glen Ogle,1875 Smart, John (1838 1899, Scottish)

We overran our time as we were so involved in the discussion and also wanted to see the Gloom of Glen Ogle by John Smart being cleaned. Although only a very small section was able to be cleaned it is like being left with a cliff hanger at the end of a series to know what the painting would like completely cleaned… but as it would take at least 2 months work and there are a few more pressing works for exhibitions coming up it’s not possible for now.


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