Glasgow Museums’ Collection

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Work from the Collection opened last Thursday evening and is an exhibition by the Glasgow-based artist Stephen Sutcliffe. Glasgow Museums purchased five works by Sutcliffe for the City’s collection in 2013 but this is the first time the wall drawing, photograph and films are being exhibited in the gallery. We are delighted that Sutcliffe has lent us two further works for inclusion in the show.

Sutcliffe’s work draws upon an extensive personal archive of broadcast material and printed ephemera that he has collected over a number of years. The appropriation and reimaging of original materials is present throughout Sutcliffe’s films, drawings and photographs.

In his wall drawings and photographs he has reworked cartoons by Saul Steinberg, whose work often featured in The New Yorker magazine. In his films, recordings from television, cinema and radio are edited together to make poetic new works that focus on anxiety and self-doubt. His careful editing of sound and image creates an awkwardness or interruption, which is often humorous at first glance, but can be read as quite dark and satirical, revealing an interest in the subversion of dominant narratives about communication, power and class.




Gallery 2
From 14 July 2017
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Beryl Cook, Fischli/Weiss, Sarah Forrest, Andy Goldsworthy, Douglas Gordon, David Hockney, Eduardo Paolozzi, David Shrigley, Stanley Spencer, Andy Warhol and Lawrence Weiner
TASTE! * is an exhibition of artworks from Glasgow Museums’ collection displayed alongside material from our archive, exploring how collections are built, artworks are commissioned, and exhibitions are organised. Through the display of artwork and archive, TASTE! will present a narrative that unpicks the history of the Gallery of Modern Art’s (GoMA) collecting, shining a light on both the artworks and the processes behind their journey from artist’s studio to museum collection. By hanging artwork and archive together, TASTE! suggests that object and idea are of equal importance and offers the exhibition as a space to enjoy, question and discuss the value of art.

Few things can cause controversy in the way that contemporary art can. From unmade beds to piles of bricks, the objects, processes and concepts behind modern and contemporary art are undoubtedly challenging. Since opening its doors in 1996, GoMA has, like the work its shown, sometimes been a controversial place. Once notorious for not including artists emerging from Glasgow in the early to mid-90s in favour of popular, figurative artworks, much of what has been shown here has divided opinion.  Now GoMA can pride itself on being a forward thinking, progressive collecting institution with one of the strongest and most diverse collections of Contemporary Art in the UK, holding a wide range of works from cutting edge performance art to internationally significant photography and video.

TASTE! aims to show how curators have approached collecting over the last two decades, exploring artists and curators methods, reasoning and influences.
Showing works in a new and experimental context will invoke the spirit in which many artworks were made. Trying new methods of work is key part of both artistic and museological practice and by showing some different combinations of artworks and never before seen objects from the archive**, GoMA is trying something new – attempting to offer a unique insight into contemporary art for both experienced museum goers and first time visitors alike.
Much of the thought processes that take place inside artist’s studios and the offices of the world’s art galleries are completely invisible and alien to many. I think partly because of this it can be a challenge for some visitors when they’re confronted with an unmade bed or pile of bricks and told it’s a work of art. By showing artworks and documents from our archive we hope to offer a greater insight into the how’s and whys of what goes on at GoMA.Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Will Cooper

*With works by 12 artists including Andy Warhol, Beryl Cook, Douglas Gordon, Sarah Forrest and Eduardo Paolozzi, TASTE! will periodically change with rotations taking placing over the coming years.

**This exhibition will, for the first time, place works together to create a snapshot of our collecting history, with some never before seen archive material expanding on GoMA’s rich history.

Installation shot from 'Deep in the Heart of Your Brain' (2016) Jacqueline Donachie, photo Ruth Clark

Installation shot from ‘Deep in the Heart of Your Brain’ (2016) Jacqueline Donachie, photo Ruth Clark

This time last year Deep in the Heart of Your Brain* had been open for a couple of weeks and the excellent reviews for the exhibition had started come in. Roll on one year and the artist Jacqueline Donachie, along with the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, has won the inaugural Freelands Award and is currently making new work for the exhibition in Edinburgh later this year; Glasgow Museums now has a capsule collection of her works acquired for the City with the support of the National Fund for Acquisitions; over 40,000 visitors attended the exhibition; and 2105 people attended 52 events, talks and workshops as part of the public programme.

The Deep in the Heart of Your Brain symposium** was a significant aspect of the public programme. It was exciting to programme in response to the exhibition and be a part of the amazing discussions that happened that day. We were delighted when Moira Jeffrey agreed to write a response to the symposium and are now even more delighted to be able to publish it online here. Field Notes from the Heart’s Frontier.

GoMA are very grateful to Moira for her wonderfully considered response to the day and her enthusiasm for taking on a very open brief! We would also like to thank Jacqueline Donachie for feedback, Angelo Nese for copy editing and Kirsty McBride for a fantastic job on the design.

*Deep in the Heart of Your Brain, 20 May–13 November 2016, Gallery 4, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Glasgow, the symposium and Field Notes from the Heart’s Frontier  were commissioned by Glasgow Museums with support from a Wellcome Trust Arts Award. Jacqueline Donachie also re-ceived support to work with GoMA from the National Lottery through the Creative Scotland Open Project Fund.

**The Deep in the Heart of Your Brain symposium was held at Platform, Glasgow on November 4, 2016, to develop the themes of Jacqueline Donachie’s exhibition of the same name at the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow. The symposium was co-produced by Katie Bruce and Jacqueline Donachie and chaired by Alison Stirling, Projects Director, Artlink, Edinburgh. Its aims were to bring artists, institutions, academics and interested individuals together to dis-cuss care, bravery, lived experience, autoethnography and expert cultures in relation to the ethics and practice of knowledge exchange/public engagement in the art/medical research field.

The contributions were:
Jacqueline Donachie, Artist. Illuminating Loss
Karen Guthrie, Artist and filmmaker. The Closer We Get
Sarah Cunningham-Burley, Professor of Medical and Family Sociology, Assistant Principal, Research-led learning and Dean of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh. Making the private public: lived experience of health and illness.
Jason E. Bowman, Artist with a curatorial practice, writer, researcher and educator. MFA: Fine Art Programme Leader at the Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg. Curating as Care Making


Polygraphs is a group exhibition exploring truth, fiction and evidence in a complicated world. Centred around Abstract (2012), a two-channel video work by Berlin based filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl, gifted to Glasgow Museums’ collection last year, the exhibition is drawn entirely from Glasgow Museums’ collection.


Abstract, 2012 Hito Steyerl Two channel HD video with sound 7 minutes, 30 seconds Image CC 4.0 Hito Steyerl Image courtesy of the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York

Artists are often witness to a changing global environment and their role within that culture is to document, ask questions and create layers of meaning to engage audiences with current international discourses. Thus, Abstract provides a frame through which to encounter other artists interested in interrogating dominant historical narratives and our relationships to the arms trade, colonialism, the slave trade and feminism.

Polygraphs reflects GoMA’s long-standing interest in research and evidence based documentary artworks. The exhibition includes works from the last 100 years and poses questions about the relationship of museums to the histories, identities and politics that they represent. By re-displaying older works alongside more recent pieces the exhibition reactivates truths and fictions still relevant today.



The resource space and public programme for Polygraphs has been developed in conjunction with graphic designer Neil McGuire and Cyber-Crannog

Note: Abstract was presented by the Contemporary Art Society through the Collections Fund, 2015. It marks the first work by Hito Steyerl to enter a public collection in the UK

ARTISTS: Jane Evelyn Atwood, Muirhead Bone, Boyle Family, Gerard Byrne, Graham Fagen, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Beth Forde, Alasdair Gray, Ian Hamilton Finlay, David Hockney, Wyndham Lewis, Peter Kennard, kennardphillips, Barbara Kruger, Scott Myles, Anthony Schrag and Hito Steyerl

Greetings from Lanesville (still), 1976

Greetings from Lanesville (still), 1976


Please Turn Us On
28 July 2016 – 22 January 2017
Arthur Ginsberg with Video Free America
Heather Phillipson

Please Turn Us On places Glasgow at the centre of a dialogue between early video art and international counterculture. Stansfield/Hooykaas’ What’s It To You? is presented in direct conversation with three other projects that play on themes explored in this seminal, Glasgow-made work.

Elsa Stansfield (b. Glasgow, 1945, d. Amsterdam, 2004) and Madelon Hooykaas (b. Maartensdijk, 1942) worked at the genesis of time-based practice, with the pair quick to realise the potential of video as an art form and as a communication tool. Shown at Glasgow’s The Third Eye Centre for a week in 1975, What’s It To You? was the first installation of its kind ever to be seen in Glasgow. During its original showing the work combined recorded and live film with photography and text. It was truly an interactive work, with audience engagement at its very core. The public’s changing responses to being filmed and questioned gave the work a different meaning with each viewing.

Using a combination of media to offer multiple readings of the work became a staple throughout Stansfield/Hooykaas’ rich career. Keen not to have the authoritative voice within their work, rather they attempted to use new video tape technology to break down social hierarchies and democratise the act of looking at and making artworks. It was through these means that What’s It To You? put Glasgow in communication with other counterculture movements across the globe.

Similarly dynamic projects were taking place across America. In Greetings from Lanesville Videofreex brought their brand of guerrilla broadcasting to Upstate New York. Their Lanesville TV was the first localised, pirate television station in the world. It featured interviews with the rural community, audience phone-ins and dramatic news reports. Videofreex helped to create a portrait of the local community, made by the local community. This happened at a time of great social and political turmoil, when many people didn’t feel like their attitudes were being fairly represented by traditional media. Lanesville TV offered a much-needed alternative voice and paved the way for modern, user-generated broadcasting.

As Stansfield/Hooykaas and Videofreex worked with our shared public experiences, The Continuing Story of Carel and Ferd anticipated the camera’s ability to enter into the most personal parts of our lives. Between 1970 and 1972 director Arthur Ginsberg filmed the not-so-average daily lives of soon-to-be-wed Carel Rowe and Ferd Eggan. This precursor to reality television documents the couple’s changing desires and the drastic evolution of their relationship while living their lives in front of the camera. It is an early warning about the risks of living too close to an electronic medium.

Running through the exhibition is a new commission by London-based artist Heather Phillipson, bringing the issues raised by Stansfield/Hooykaas, Videofreex and Arthur Ginsberg into the contemporary. By focusing the historical elements of Please Turn Us On through her work, Phillipson suggests that despite the current ubiquitousness of personal filming equipment our understanding of its consequences hasn’t developed all that much in the last four decades.

Physical Geology -Filmstill - Ilana Halperin, courtesy the artist

Physical Geology -Filmstill – Ilana Halperin, courtesy the artist

For the final work in the moving image programme for Ripples on the Pond, GoMA has invited Ilana Halperin to screen a diptych relating to her work in the Glasgow Museums’ collection. For this presentationThe Center for Short Lived Phenomena is shown as part of a diptych with Physical Geology (new land mass/fast time), a Super 8 film Halperin shot on location in Hawaii at the ‘lava entry ocean point’, where new landmass is perpetually created through the ongoing eruption of the Kīlauea volcano. This film from Hawaii was inspired by the archival footage of the eruption on Heimaey and mirrors the events that led to the formation of the island of Ferdinandea in 1831, Halperin’s drawing related to that island is in the exhibition. The project text Ruins in Reverse (Nomadic Landmass) (2005) is also available in the gallery, providing a narrative context for this work.

GoMA is also working with Ilana Halperin on the event FELT EVENTS for GI2016 Across the City programme. This event at Fossil Grove, Victoria Park is with the artist and the saxophonist Raymond Macdonald will join the artist for a geologic call and response.

The Center for Short Lived Phenomena (1973/2005) / Physical Geology (new land mass/fast time) (2009)
From 11 March – 24 April 2016

In 2003 Ilana Halperin turned 30 years old. To mark this event, she visited the Eldfell volcano on the island of Heimaey in Iceland, celebrating their simultaneous appearance on this earth in 1973. This encounter grew into a project entitled Nomadic Landmass which followed a chain of events. They included fieldwork in Mammoth Cave, the longest cave in the world; a conversation about a crystal shard with a geologist in Glasgow; an interview with an Arctic explorer in Lapland who later went missing en route to the North Pole; and an inexplicable connection with a German baker who lived at the foot of the Eldfell volcano. Nomadic Landmass included photographic images taken en route to Eldfell from the window of a small plane; drawings inspired by the eruption on Heimaey; geological specimens (one of which was found at the top of the Eldfell volcano); a small book outlining the story of the project; and footage of the actual 1973 Eldfell eruption and evacuation of the island filmed by The Center for Short Lived Phenomena (now known as The Global Volcanism Program) at The Smithsonian Institution.

Back in July 2003 Halperin spent 10 days on and off underground in Kentucky, USA, working in Mammoth Cave with a conservation organization called Earthwatch. She subsequently found out that Earthwatch formed in 1973 as well. As it turned out, much of their work began through documenting the Eldfell eruption within 24 hours of its start. Bob Citron, the primary investigator on the fieldwork session, filmed 16,000 feet of volcanic eruptions between 1968 and 1974 through The Center for Short Lived Phenomena. When the eruption on Heimaey began he organized a spontaneous field session. The footage they shot was apparently so breathtaking it ended up on most news stations around the world. After the eruption, Citron and the team decided to print a book called Earthwatch about Heimaey and related volcanic events. It is from this publication that the organization took its name. Blue, Halperin’s contact at Earthwatch, put her in contact with Citron, who then offered to loan her the original eruption footage before it was permanently donated to the Smithsonian as part of an extensive volcanic archive. The film The Center for Short Lived Phenomena is a narrative edit of the original archival footage shot by Bob and his colleagues on Heimaey.

Glasgow Museums’ collection includes a series of drawings from Nomadic Landmass, featuring houses buried by ash in the 1973 Eldfell eruption. Within Ripples on the Pond, a related volcanic drawing, Nomadic Landmass (Ferdinandea) (2003) by Halperin is also in the exhibition.

Ilana Halperin was born in 1973 in New York, USA. She is currently Artist-in-Residence at The Exploratorium, San Francisco, USA. Solo shows include: Learning to Read Rocks, An Tobar, Mull (2014); Autobiographical Trace Fossils, Patricia Fleming Projects (2014); The Library, National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh (2013); Steine and Hand Held Lava, Berlin Medical History Museum / Schering Foundation, Berlin (2012); Physical Geology, Artists Space, New York (2009); Nomadic Landmass, doggerfisher, Edinburgh (2005) and The Difficulty of Falling in Love During an Earthquake, Tramway, Glasgow (2001). Group shows include: The Forces Behind the Forms, Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Germany (2016); Cristallisations – la naissance d’un ordre caché, La Grande Place, Musée du Cristal Saint-Louis, curated by Centre Pompidou Metz, Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche, France (2015); Allegory of the Cave Painting, Extra City, Antwerp, Belgium (2014); Volcano, Compton Verney, Warwickshire (2010); Experimental Geography, iCI, New York (2009); Estratos, PAC Murcia, Spain (2008); and Sharjah Biennial 8, UAE (2007). Halperin was Artist Fellow, National Museums Scotland, 2012–13 and Artist-Curator of Geology at Shrewsbury Museum, 2011–14. She lives and works in Glasgow.

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Over the years the Glasgow Museums’ collection has been a rich source of material to make connections with artists and anniversaries throughout the world, with opportunities to reveal works in new contexts. This year is no different and throughout 2016 there are exhibitions and events taking place in the US and UK to mark the centenary of the birth of the American artist Jon Schueler (1916-1992). Discussions with his estate and Magda Salvesen about Glasgow Museums’ involvement in the centenary year began a number of years ago with GoMA curator, Sean McGlashan and continued after he left. Within the Glasgow Museums Fine Art curatorial team a discussion began around the potential for linking in with the celebrations and we are delighted that The Search: Black Shadow Blues, IV is in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum throughout 2016. GoMA has asked Dr Joanna Meacock, Curator of British Art, and lead curator for The Search for Schueler to write a guest post for this blog to give a little more background on Schueler and the work.

The Search for Schueler: Dr Joanna Meacock

Schueler was part of the ‘second generation’ of the acclaimed New York School. He studied at the California School of Fine Arts under the leading Abstract Expressionist artist Clyfford Still, before moving to New York where he became part of a thriving artistic community around Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman (who helped him get his first studio), Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. During this centenary year, you can see Glasgow Museums’ Schueler painting, The Search: Black Shadow Blues, IV, an evocative, atmospheric abstraction of the Scottish landscape, in our Looking at Art gallery in Kelvingrove . 

The Search: Black Shadow Blues, IV was painted during a residency at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh in 1980-81, which led to an exhibition, The Search, in 1981. Schueler described all his work, in which he attempts to paint the vastness of nature, its mystery and power, as ‘a search and a requiem’. His work treads a delicate balance between nature and abstraction. No matter how abstract, his paintings remain rooted in the physical landscape, concerned with place and atmosphere. However, they are not meant to be literal depictions of nature, but rather an attempt to penetrate and understand it. His work is deliberately evocative, suggestive and ambiguous.

Schueler was deeply influenced by his experience as a navigator of B-17 bombers for the US Air Force in WWII. Stationed in Britain, he took part in bombing raids in Germany and became fascinated by the sky, painting it again and again in an attempt to capture something of its power. He wrote: ‘There in combat and before, the sky held all things, life and death and fear and joy and love. It held the incredible beauty of nature’.

In 1957 Schueler discovered Mallaig, a fishing village on the west coast of Scotland. He felt an immediate affinity with the landscape, with its stormy weather, turbulent seas, intense light and sea mists and spray, but particularly with its dramatically changing skies:
I studied the Mallaig sky so intently, and I found in its convulsive movement and change and drama such a concentration of activity that it became all skies and even the idea of all nature to me… Time was there and motion was there – lands forming, seas disappearing, worlds fragmenting, colors emerging or giving birth to burning shapes...

Turner was a key inspiration. Like him, Schueler wanted to paint the real and emotional experience of being outside in nature. Following Turner’s example, he even went out on a sea voyage in stormy weather in order to encounter nature in a more direct and visceral way. The experience stayed with him all his life.

The landscape around Mallaig and the Sound of Sleat informed Schuler’s work in New York throughout the 1960s. In 1970 he returned to Mallaig for 5 years, during which time Richard Demarco showed his work in his Edinburgh gallery and commissioned a documentary, Jon Schueler: An Artist and his Vision. Schueler went on to paint in Mallaig almost every summer until his death in 1992. It is very fitting that his last exhibition was held at Mallaig Village Hall in 1991. Glasgow Museums’ purchase ten years earlier of The Search: Black Shadow Blues, IV was a shrewd and discerning move, the painting not only providing a powerful and atmospheric response to our national landscape, but demonstrating, once again, the way in which Scotland can be so often found intimately connected with international avant-garde art movements.

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