New Art: Clusterbomb @ Patriothall Gallery, Stockbridge

This is my review of Clusterbomb at Patriothall Gallery WASPS for The Skinny. 3 Stars!

Notwithstanding the occasional guidebook erroneously, and rather hilariously, describing Stockbridge as ‘bohemian’, it’s probably fair to say that the area’s art scene is bland and commercially focused. That’s why this independent exhibition of drawings and paintings by Edinburgh College of Art graduates should be particularly welcomed.

The unifying concern – ‘the excessive clustering of imagery’ – is simple and there is no burdening the visitor with spoon-fed textual reflection. This decision has worked out well for Clusterbomb: many of the paintings are so replete with lively symbolism and tackle such thoroughly contemporary referents, from kebabs to Lego, that formal explanation is unnecessary.

Emergent themes are food supply, violence, fear and waste culture. Matt Swan’s Anonymous Dorito Henchman with a Green Cape showcases the inventive mix of fast food, vanity and pure fantasy that makes up his bizarre and intriguing work. Jamie Kinroy tackles the stress and breakdown of social life in the face of consumerist capitalism, and in the likes of Hard Times 2 his use of colour and logo echoes multinational corporations.

Bobby Nixon’s Black Paintings convey the growing sense of fear in the contemporary urban environment, again referencing the logos and junk food that are staples in the big city. John Brown’s playful deconstruction of bodily parts in Twitland complements the more serious contributions.

Contrasting with all this detritus and dysfunction is Alex Gibbs’ lonely Suburban Living, With Trees, whose clinical, manipulated landscape still hints that we are looking at the other side of the same coin of human agency.

There is more that can be done here in terms of refining the concept and honing the various responses, but this is nevertheless a good, low-budget exhibition from promising new artists. Clusterbomb’s inventiveness and critical engagement with contemporary themes is admirable and the show is certainly worth seeing.

Edinburgh’s mysterious leaf people

art,Edinburgh — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — comelybankingcrisis @ 12:14 pm

Local Edinburgh news has been alive with curiosity and speculation over the appearance of a number of leaf sculptures along the Water of Leith.  The artist remains unknown, but clearly is playing with our fascination with the 6 Times series of sculptures erected in June by Antony Gormley.  The figures appear to be interacting with Gormley’s sculptures, mirroring the behaviour of hundreds of city walkers since the summer.

The individuals below – the Parent and Child and the Student/Teenager/Homeless Man(?) – all appeared in Stockbridge recently.  People by and large have been charmed by them, but you have to admit there’s something horrifyingly creepy about them too, or at least there will be when they come alive!  Or maybe they used to be alive and they have since been horrifyingly transformed into a mute, leafy prison.

Leaf figures inspecting Gormley in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Okay, I’ve clearly been watching too many horror films to go with the standard ‘happy families’ interpretation.  On a serious note though, this is a welcome addition to the art of the area since Gormley’s contribution.  The honeymoon period with the latter has passed and we’re getting bored.  The leaf figures are the most interesting intervention to date, and there have been several, from bikinis to “I Love Leith” T-shirts.

And, quite frankly, this latest feature is more interesting than Gormley anyway.

Leaf figure by the Water of Leith in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Antony Gormley’s friends haunt Edinburgh and are foiled by the Bikini Vandal

Many in Edinburgh will already have noticed Antony Gormley’s 6 Times, a series of six cast iron, life-sized figures positioned along the Water of Leith (a river, in case you hadn’t heard) between the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art and the sea at Leith Docks.  The exhibition, commissioned by the National Galleries of Scotland, optimises the beauty, fecundity and occasional seclusion of the Water of Leith along its most well-trodden section, taking the participant through the natural beauty of the glen and it’s busy, green banks, into the picturesque Dean Village, under the magnificant Dean Bridge and eventually through neighbourhoods and some fantastic disused industrial architecture before arriving at the Port.

There’s no doubting that the walk itself is well worth doing, Gormley or not, but the presence of these firgures adds a certain mystique, a feeling of connectivity with the city and other walkers (and of course the many gawkers and photographers the figures are attracting daily) as well as an odd feeling of loneliness and longing which is inevitable given the characters’ isolated nakedness and distant gazes.  The tall, slender bodies are characteristic of Gormley’s sculpture, but each of the six has its own personality and orientation.

Gormley's figure looks up towards the bridge in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Gormley is well-known for his figures, particularly the Angel of the North, but Edinburgh’s 6 Times is more reminiscent of Another Place, which places 100 similarly pensive characters along 3 kilometres of foreshore at Crosby Beach outside Liverpool, integrating them into the natural flow of water and distantly interacting with recreational visitors.  6 Times has been well received in Edinburgh overall, receiving a welcome review in the Scotsman.

I strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it yet to do so, if for no other reason than to drag you down the Water of Leith, one of my very favourite things to do in Edinburgh (okay, maybe without the dragging).  And while you’re at it, spare a thought for the now infamous intervention of the mysterious Bikini Vandal, whose addition (pictured below) has now unfortunately been removed.  I’m not advising you to steal a traffic cone and place it on one of the heads, but let’s just say that if you did, I would find it hilarious.  Suggestions for more interventions welcome.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
(c) 2017 The Comely Banking Crisis | powered by WordPress with Barecity