Chhay and Claire helped me put the finishing touches on GHA’s entrant into the Scottish Design Award’s uber high profile lego competition. Raising money for the National Autism Society our entry had the distinction of being the only one to (intactly) follw the brief and apparently we scooped the most votes on the nominations night.
Voting is continuing right up unitl the awards presentation however – so cast your votes here!
As far as real entries went GHA made it onto the shortlist for the two categories we entred – small projects for Venice and Practice of the Year.
A couple of quick updates from our recent entrees into Glasgow’s burgeoning art scene.
First up was the opening of the relocated Glasgow Sculpture Studios – in a small but precious new space under a railway arch in the west end. The sculpture on offer was slightly erotic shapes by an artist whose name eludes me that were completely obscured by people while we were there. The noise of passing trains adds a unique aural element to an appreciation of the contents.
On the same night I finally managed to get my first visit to SWG3 otherwise known as the warehouse – a great cavernous psace that hosts art installations bands and related events. The art wasn’t of a great calibre although the beer was a step up in class and we will be back soon – possibly for SWG3 live on the 10th.
Excellent talk by the very interesting and annoyingly talented and disarming James Houston at the CCA, part of a new series called Cryptic Nights which looks set to host some interesting evenings. Make sure you watch his facinating Radiohead remix Big Ideas (Don’t get any).
We spent a fantastic few days visiting Liverpool for the first time at the end of November. Mersyside has the honour of being the European City of Culture this year so there was plenty of things to take in.
We started things off in epic fashion on Thursday night with local lads Echo & the Bunnymen returning and playing Ocean Rain with the accompaniment of a full symphony orchestra. The Bunnymen played a straight up set first off, which was difficult to get into as we were up in the rafters of the totally anonymous (but appropriately named) Echo Arena. Once the orchestra came on the atmosphere was electric, closely matching the magic of their set at Connect last year for personal impact.
On Friday we tootled about the wonderfully intricate ropewalks areas hunting down abandoned brick warehouses and back lane bars. We also checked out a few of the art Biennial installations (including Ai Wei Weiâ€™s spider and the immaculately detailed extension to the Bluecoat gallery) wandered pasted the modernist catholic metropolitan cathedral (Above) and down the road to its equally grandiose Anglican sibling (top). After a late lunch and a few bottles of wine too many at crazy Keith’s in suburban Lark Lane, Claire joined us off the Glasgow train and we met a friend of a friend for some illegal noodles at the intriguing Static Gallery with the friendly staff from ShedKM, which lead to a small tour of some of Liverpoolâ€™s finer drinking establishments as evidenced by the cheery faces below!
After a long sleep in on Saturday we wandered through the eerie mist that had descended on the city to view the somewhat unfocused Le Corbusier exhibition in the crypt of the Metropolitan Cathedral. On the way we chalked up visits to a couple more interesting Art Biennial installations including Atelier Bow Wowâ€™s Rockslide performance space.
That evening we attended to unofficial closing party for the Independent Biennial a wacky space themed poetry cum electro performance with great sets from wave if your really there and we have band who are both worth looking out for if you fancy a boogie.
Sunday morning we squeezed in a quick visit to the fantastic FACT which included a curiously disturbing noise art installation, as well as an installation of Yoko Onoâ€™s ladders in the evocative bombed out ruins of St Lukeâ€™s church, before we hopped back on the train totally knackered but thoroughly entertained.
My new office kindly took us all to Venice for a weekend to witness the opening of the 11th Venice Architectural Biennale, in particular the opening party for the GHA designed Scottish Pavilion. I had nothing to do with it as it had all happened before I joined the practice but was kindly taken along for the ride, and Chhay joined us along with a solid contingent of WaG’s (and not forgetting the HaB’s too!)
I was excited to visit Venice for the first time despite the tourist mecca that it is renowned to be. The combination of lots of boats, windy lanes and Italian architecture is too close to my heart to ignore. Our explorations of the maze of alleyways was limited by torrential rain on the Saturday, which we spent tucked in another of my ideal urban ingredients – a tiny corner bar open to the street and plastic bag clad masses.
Sunday proved to be a little drier so we packed an architectural meg day, starting in the national pavilions in the Giardini before a hyperspeed tour of the architectural (or sculptural really) delights of the Arsenale, where the starchitects had come out to play – with swoopy, eye candy from the likes of Zaha and Frank.
Highlights were the Belgian pavilion filled only with tonnes of confetti in an exploration of emptiness, the indescribably beautiful pencil drawings on the walls of the Japanese pavilions and the mind numbing, literally disorientating saturation of ideas bursting out of the Italian pavilion.
Naturally a weekend was not even close to enough time to explore it all, and the next biennale may provide the perfect excuse to return in a few years time!
Apologies for the long break in posting – a couple a big submissions at work combined with excessive watching of ‘The Wire’ have left me with limited time at the computer. Will be summarising quite a bit in the next few posts so don’t expect too much detail.
We missed most the Edinburgh festival season this year as we were away in France but did sneak over on the last weekend in August to catch a couple of art exhibitions still running.
Initially we got up close and personal with Tracey Emmin’s personal effects at her first retrospective at Modern Art Gallery, a lot of her stuff was quite moving, although the tapestries were a little difficult to interpret.
We then caught Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller‘s fantastic show at the Fruitmarket Gallery, beautifully whimsical, the animatronic, interactive, sensory, soundscapes were magical, and even if they are one trick ponies as cityofsound alludes is his review of their show in Sydney – it is a damn fine trick!
We snuck down to London for the first time in over year at the end of July, to see friends, catch the tail end of the London Festival of Architecture, visit a few galleries and generally see London in summer for the first time.
It was a great weekend, we popped by the just opened Serpentine Pavillion by Frank Gehry (above), although we couldn’t get in because of a fancy pants party, as well spending a fantastic half a day in the Psycho Buildings exhibition at the awesomely brutalist Hayward Gallery. I suppose it was to be expected given our profession but the artists interpreting architecture lent itself to some absolutely brilliant pieces in my opinion – including a spooky dolls house city by Rachael Whiteread a surreal frozen explosion by the Cubans Los Carpinteros and the chance to paddle about on the roof of the gallery courtesy of Gelitin’s Normally, Proceeding and unrestricted without title (below)
We caught up with old friends and farewelled some too, there aren’t many Australians left it seems. We had time to more fully explore the east end of the city wandering about the hipster paradised of Hoxton & Shoreditch, getting our fill of vietnamese (as we can’t find any in Glasgow) and trying out the eco-friendly Waterhouse – which in it’s suitable obscure location served up excellent fare although I was skeptical about prawns flown in from Thailand irrespective of the sustainability of their production.
On another quiet weekend this month we spent a pleasant Sunday investigating Ian Hamilton-Findlay’s Little Sparta garden. On a par with Charles Jencks Garden of Cosmic Speculation in terms of influence in the landscape art world it is on a much smaller more intimate scale and while it has intriging moments I found it less compelling.
On our way home we stopped in to our friends parent’s house in Leadhills (the 2nd highest village in Scotland) and had a fantastic foursies in their garden – which it turned out had almost as much to offer as Little Sparta.
The lack of recent posts has been down to some decidedly summerlike weather (5 days without rain!) which has seen us in the garden and out at the allotment. Our seedlings are getting rather huge in the conservatory, although many of the ones that we planted out have been decimated by slugs! I finally added the roof to the greenhouse this weekend so with the addition of a door and an industrial load of gap filler we’ll be at lock up stage.
last weekend for the first of 2 may long weekends we headed south into the Dumfries region. We camped on the Solway Coast in one of those decidedly Brittish holiday parks, complete with green caravans, kids with buckets & spades and a decidedly underwhelming beach, although this one was much less garish than most and beautifully sited overlooking a little bay (above).
We walked from our campsite along the coast to the delightful Rocklciffe & Kipford (more boats – you have to feel for poor Chhay, having to put up with me) , past little settlements and ultimate natural smugglers hideouts (above) carved into the cliffs. We also found time to explore the atmospheric ruined Sweetheart Abbey and the attendant cute little town of New Abbey (below).
On the Sunday we headed back past Dumfries (itself an interesting if a little sketchy regional centre with great winding lanes and beautiful red sandstone housing stock) to the reason for our trip – Charles Jencks own Garden of Cosmic Speculation. Open to the public on only one day a year it is an esoteric, sometimes humorous sculptural post modern landscape treat. Curving grass helixes (below), mirrored ponds, obscure sculptures tucked into hidden groves (bottom) as well as complex hydrological features make for a fascinating place for exploring and it was incredibly popular – packed with the funkier edge of the blue rinse set.
While some of it was a little too post modern for my black skivvied taste, it is an amazing place, showing that there is more to the old critic than a few architecture tomes. As always more at our flickr
photo from GI website.
I’ve got a stack of stuff to catch up on after a few weekends away, but for now the next in my lunchtime Glasgow International investigations.
Today the CCA with the end result of last year’s highwire event. The footage itself was interesting but not all that powerful, despite the intense post rationalism of the failure the complete the walk in the booklet. Better were the enlarged negative images of the red road flats, with the path of the wire torn through the film. The presented a spectural, otherwordly view of the often derided tower blocks, which reinforced my impression of them from their starring role in the recent Scotttish film ‘Red Road’ which we watched last week.
Supporting info about the construction of the towers in the early 60’s and the slum clearances that accompanied them was also ineteresting – espcially the linen drawings and multiple references to asbestos.