Galleries - June 2012

Billcliffe at 20 In a city which has had its shares of ups and downs, both artistically and economically, over the last two decades, just surviving as a commercial gallery in Glasgow can be counted as an achieve- ment in itself. But Roger Billcliffe (map 2) has done much more than that since he opened his gallery there in 1992 in the old premises of the Fine Art Society (for whom he had previously worked), steadily building it into a major force in Scottish art. Good art historians don’t always make the best dealers but in Billcliffe’s case it has been central to the gallery’s success, his scholarship on Mackintosh and the Glasgow Boys in particular a key element in its continuing success. Opening the Studio A decade or so ago I wrote a piece here about Julian Trevelyan and Mary Fedden and the origins of the Open Studio initiative in the 1960s. I've just discovered that it made such an impression on artist Jo Whitney that she decided to do something about it in her adopted landscape – the East Neuk of Fife. To such effect indeed, that they are now not only celebrating their 10th anniversary but have, by po- pular demand, made it a biannual event – East Neuk Open Studios (map 1), June and November. I didn't know I was so persuasive! Reflecting the Self Continuing this month’s theme of contemporary art in amazing pla- ces, there can’t be many better, or more daunting, spaces to make work for than a medieval cathe- dral, especially when it is on the massive scale and austere beauty of Peterborough Cathedral (map 18) . That artist Susan Haire has taken it on so successfully with only the collaborative help of com- poser Stephen Dydo, says a great deal about the strength and orig- inality of her ideas and her res- ourcefulness in finding ways and means to convey them with visual directness and poetic feeling. In ‘Reflection: Looking Beneath the Surface’ Haire has put together a sequence of installations around the cathedral – shimmering penn- ants of mirrors hanging all the way up the 30m high tower, 600 mirr- ored sun-glasses reflecting the viewer simultaneously and an array of mirrors reflecting the spe- ctacular painted ceiling – that play profoundly with questions of self-- reflectiveness and self-question- ing. Added to which there are the subtleties of the musical sco- res Dydo has composed for each installation (listened to through head-phones I hasten to add), that powerfully reinforce the mood. With related talks, concerts and events planned for the cathedral between now and 24 June, when the exhibition closes, I recomm- end a visit a.s.a.p. NU ANTENNAE 8. GALLERIES JUNE 12 Moorland Inspiration As we all emerge, hopefully, from hosepipe-ban inspired wind, rain and floods, we can perhaps finally start to enjoy what is, to my mind, one of the great pleasures of the summer season – looking at art in extraordinary, beautiful and un- conventional locations. That is one of the underlying themes of this month’s Galleries , with news of exhibitions and events taking place in wonderfully varied ven- ues and landscapes – national parks, cathedrals and artists’ studios from Fife via the Norfolk/ Suffolk borders to the South Coast. Let’s start with an imaginatively conceived exhibition happening in, and inspired by the wonderfully rugged North York Moors National Park. Currently celebrating its 60th anniversary, the curators of the Park’s new exhibition space, the Inspired By . . . Gallery (map 4), have invited six major artists living within it to display work that gives an idea of what its landscape has meant to them. The six, painters Len Tabner, Philip Hicks and William Tillyer, photo- grapher Joe Cornish and glass artists Gillies Jones (Kate Jones and Stephen Gillies) are all very different, not simply in terms of their medium but of their working concerns too and have con- sequently come up with a richly diverse show with some quite unexpected angles. S usan Haire ‘The Universe in a Single Atom’ at Peterborough Cathedral. Peter Hicks ‘Woodland Landscape, Summer Sunlight’, acrylic 2011 52 x 40cm at Inspired by . . . Gallery. M argaret L. Smyth ‘Coppelia’s Cabinet’, mixed media, 60 x 95cm, 2011 at East Neuk Open Studios