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Erskine Beveridge: Collecting Relics, Ruins & Ways of Life

Man With a Camera   When Erskine Beveridge picked up a camera in the late 1800s, this revolutionary way of immortalising the world was perfect for documenting the Dunfermline born mill owner’s archaeological adventures across Scotland. While Beveridge’s images would go on to appear in his assorted publications, it was only when a pile of neglected glass plate photographic negatives was accidentally discovered that a vital archive of the country’s landscape on the brink of seismic social change was preserved.    The discovery occurred while surveyors from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (which later joined forces with Historic Scotland to form Historical Environment Scotland) were looking over one of Beveridge’s soon to be demolished mills in the early 1960s. A later donation of another box of glass plate negatives rescued from a skip and stored in a wardrobe for many years expanded the collection further. Several other boxes believed to have hel

Barry Ryan - An Obituary

Barry Ryan – Singer, musician, photographer Born October 24, 1948; died September 28, 2021   Barry Ryan, who has died aged 72, was a singer who topped the charts in several countries in 1968 with his single, Eloise. The song was a flamboyant baroque epic written by Ryan’s brother Paul, with whom he previously performed as a duo, and inspired in part by Richard Harris’ rendition of Jimmy Webb’s song, MacArthur Park.   Ryan’s recording of Eloise was produced by Bill Landis and arranged by Eurovision conductor Johnny Arthey, with musicians including future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. The end result was a breathless melodramatic gallop awash with strings and horns that lasted over five minutes. As Ryan’s yearning voice gave way to a slowed down mid section, the song climaxed with a final frantic declaration of devotion.    Eloise was a glorious pop anomaly that found mass appeal through an audaciousness that went far beyond any idea of novelty. The effect was heigh

Richard H. Kirk - An Obituary

Richard H. Kirk – Electronic musician and composer Born March 21, 1956; died September 2021    Richard H. Kirk, who has died aged 65, was a pioneer of British electronic music. This was the case both as the only constant member of Cabaret Voltaire, the Sheffield sired group he formed in 1973 with Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson, and with a plethora of solo and collaborative works. Kirk’s prolific output saw him record both under his own name and a role-call of more than forty aliases that included Sandoz, Electronic Eye and Sweet Exorcist.    Naming their group after the Zurich based Dadaist nightclub that opened in 1916, Kirk, Mallinder and Watson initially produced sonic collages that drew from the cut-up aesthetic of novelist William Burroughs. They fused primitive tape experiments and samples with psych garage, dub, funk and German kosmische influences.    With Kirk adding treated guitar, clarinet and saxophone to the electronic stew, the band’s early experiments were at times d

Germany Calling! – How Strategy: Get Arts Enlightened Edinburgh

Action! Time! Vision!   It was fifty-one years and a little bit more ago today that Strategy: Get Arts opened its doors at Edinburgh College of Art with a splash. The latter came care of Klaus Rinke’s water installation hosing people down as they entered ECA’s main building during the exhibition’s three-week run during Edinburgh International Festival from late August to mid September 1970. Since then, the ripples of this now legendary conceptualist infiltration of ECA’s historically staid environs by 35  Düsseldorf based artists has arguably helped open up, not just its host city, but the entire world it turned upside down.    Just how much the palindromically named extravaganza left its mark is clear from Christian Weikop’s forensically researched new book, Strategy: Get Arts – 35 Artists Who Broke the Rules. The book was launched in August at the 2021 Edinburgh International Book Festival, at an event in ECA’s Sculpture Court. It was here and in the rooms around it that work by Jose

Melvin Van Peebles - An Obituary

Melvin Van Peebles – Filmmaker, actor, composer, playwright, novelist   Born August 21, 1932; died September 21, 2021   Melvin Van Peebles, who has died aged 89, was a filmmaker, writer, and renaissance man, whose film, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971), gave voice to contemporary African American experience in a way that had been little seen previously. Despite industry resistance to it being made at all, Van Peebles wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film, as well as composing its soundtrack. His tenacity paid off, and after hustling it into cinemas, the film make around $14 million at the box office. It also kickstarted a wave of independent features made by and starring black talents who more often than not had been previously relegated to bit part status.    The so-called blaxploitation era briefly changed all that, with the films produced acquiring a cult status that influenced future generations of film-makers, from Spike Lee to Quentin Tarantino. Van Peebles re