Skip to main content

Ruth Ewan – The Beast / Camara Taylor – Backwash / Annette Krauss – A Matter of Precedents

The contradictions inherent in the system are everywhere at the Calton Hill home of Edinburgh’s Collective Gallery just now. As gentrification encroaches the landscape, the gallery’s three Edinburgh Art Festival shows turn received historical narratives on their head to reveal more ambiguous readings of the past.

 

Outside, visitors are greeted by ‘Silent Agitator’ (2019), a giant clock made by Ruth Ewan bearing the words ‘TIME TO ORGANISE’. This monumental call to arms is based on an illustration by American writer and activist Ralph Chaplin for the Industrial Workers of the World labour union, and is a companion piece to ‘The Beast’ (2022), a newly commissioned twelve-minute animated film penned by Ewan with socialist magician Ian Saville.

 

Animated by Regina Ohak with Duncan Marquiss, and with music and sound design by Ross Downes, the film depicts nineteenth century industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, forced to engage in dialectical discourse with Diplodocus carnegii, the dinosaur he named after himself.

 

Voiced by actor/singer Keeley Forsyth, with Dave Anderson playing Carnegie, the dinosaur upends Carnegie’s reputation like a ghost of revolutions past. Her particular focus is on the 1882 Battle of Homestead, when striking steelworkers were killed by hired security agents. With Carnegie immortalised while his workers are lost in the dust, these are memorialised in the gallery’s City Dome space on a tomb-like billboard next to the screen on which the film is screened. 

 

Also rooted in historical exploitation is backwash, Camara Taylor’s deceptively tranquil looking meditation on the trickledown effect of Scotland’s colonialist exploitation of Africa in the seventeenth century. The result in the gallery’s Hillside space is a series of moving image and sound works that form Taylor’s contribution to Collective’s ongoing Satellite programme. 

 

A juxtaposition of sights and sounds from different environments move from images of children playing on a Jamaican beach to an early morning sunrise over Edinburgh’s Seafield sewage works, while the sound of water recorded by Joseph June Bond permeates the room. A submerged print of the Caribbean Sea is processed with rum, while the decayed remains of a print by nineteenth century African American painter Robert S. Duncan suggest a purging of sorts. 

 

People powered resistance to a more localised land-grab is relayed through ‘A Matter of Precedents’, Annette Krauss’s series of recorded interviews concerning common good land and property in Scotland, whereby assets owned by local authorities are utilised in the common good, rather than for commercial purposes. A map compiled by Simon Yuill that accompanies Krauss’s work in the gallery’s Library space lists 126 parks, monuments, structures and buildings that fall under the common good in Edinburgh. This includes the City Observatory site where Collective is now based.

 

Krauss’s interviews form an insightful oral history of how Collective’s former director Kate Gray used the gallery’s eviction from its old Cockburn Street home to its advantage by taking on the long-term use of the City Observatory. Further commentary comes from Yuill, Edinburgh’s former museum services manager Frank Little, and arts writer, lecturer and researcher Emma Balkind, who outlines a similar scenario in Aberdeen. This makes up a vital living archive about public space that should be published for a wider audience post-haste. John Carnegie’s capitalist descendents take note. The dinosaurs are biting back.

 

 

All shows at Collective Gallery, Edinburgh. Annette Krauss – A Matter of Precedents, and Camara Taylor – Backwash run until September 4th. Ruth Ewan – The Beast runs until September 18th.  

 

www.collective-edinburgh.art

 

Scottish Art News, August 2022


ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Carla Lane – The Liver Birds, Mersey Beat and Counter Cultural Performance Poetry

Last week's sad passing of TV sit-com writer Carla Lane aged 87 marks another nail in the coffin of what many regard as a golden era of TV comedy. It was an era rooted in overly-bright living room sets where everyday plays for today were acted out in front of a live audience in a way that happens differently today. If Lane had been starting out now, chances are that the middlebrow melancholy of Butterflies, in which over four series between 1978 and 1983, Wendy Craig's suburban housewife Ria flirted with the idea of committing adultery with successful businessman Leonard, would have been filmed without a laughter track and billed as a dramady. Lane's finest half-hour highlighted a confused, quietly desperate and utterly British response to the new freedoms afforded women over the previous decade as they trickled down the class system in the most genteel of ways. This may have been drawn from Lane's own not-quite free-spirited quest for adventure as she moved through h