Galleries - November 2014

NOVEMBER 2014 GALLERIES 53 museum applies even more strongly to the quieter, more sparsely populated atmosphere of the gallery – flipping open a tablet to take a photograph in a busy hall of 30 paintings is far less disruptive than doingthe same in a gallery space with four paintings and one other person. But should photographs be banned in all cases? Grey areas already exist in gallery etiquette. Should the visitor stare mute and unmovingin front of a piece or discourse about it at length to passers-by? Should the visitor adopt an attitude of over familiarity with the gallery staff, or skulk around in a suspicious, unfriendly manner? The answer lies somewhere in the middle, and is subject to the influence of the specific venue and the nature of the works on display. With the In August of this year, a volley of lamentations went off across Britain when it was announced that the restriction on photography at the National Gallery in London was to be relaxed. Some commentators reflected that phone snapshots would allow a public no longer able to engage with art on an intellectual level to speed unfeelingly through the Gallery. Another gloomily predicted that now the Gallery would become ‘selfie-central.’ While these concerns are perhaps slightly overstated, there are problems with takingphotos in any art institution (the cumulative effects of the flash, issues of copyright), and simply put, it’s just not polite. Any measure of etiquette applyingto a large national growing prevalence of photographic devices, it is increasingly likely that even small galleries could start occupying a place somewhere between strict cerebral contemplation and photo free for all. But for now, when it’s possible, the phone, tablet and camera should all be put away, and held in reserve for a rainy day at the National Gallery. NB: the NG and other major institutions, including the Tate permit amateur photos of works in permanent collections for private use. Photography of temporary shows is not allowed as copyright rules apply. Commercial galleries are more protective of copyright and permission should be requested before photographing. CODA selfie-central? Frances Allitt Fred A. Farrell: Glasgow’s War Artist. J. Meacock, F. Hayes, M. Roberts, A. Greenlees. 80pp, 60 ills. Philip Wilson Publishers pbk, £14.99 Unique amongBritish cities in the First World War, Glasgow commissioned its own War Artist, the self-taught Fred Farrell. Discharged sick from the Royal Engineers in 1916, he contracted to depict the city’s immense contribution both at home and in France and Flanders. This catalogue to a show at Glasgow Museums (until November 23, 2014) neatly reproduces the results of both projects with essays by the curatorial staff. Glasgow’s shipyards, engineering works and munitions factories are drawn in all their bustlingproductivity, subjects for which the artist (trained as a civil engineer) had a natural affinity. The Western Front sketches and watercolours (he visited in 1917 and 1918) are perhaps rather less convincingwhen illustratingspecific incidents of the fighting which he did not witness, though the views of the ‘empty battlefield’ with its ravaged mudscape and distant shell bursts are distinctly evocative and a fittingreminder that almost 18,000 Glaswegian soldiers never returned . . . AA BOOK reviews