Convocation Exhibition Post 5: Jessica Ramm

a vision seen in the same hour, cotton, fluorescent lamps, electrical components (2013)

The Walking of the Peats, film with custom display stand (2013)

Soft clods of Scottish earth scrape the ground.

Heavy with the weight of penance, a man exiled from his homeland must make arrangements of the most audacious kind if he wishes to return.

From these strange shoes the dark mud oozes between clinging toes. They are hard to lift, harder still to balance upon.

How curious that a man of such power and certainty should find himself in a position so precarious.

Shuffling forward, back, to the east and to the west, the walk of an exile is awkward and repetitive.

No rest, no end, just Exile.

The light soul and the heavy earth are bound together.

Jessica Ramm is completing her Masters at Edinburgh College of Art. 

Convocation Exhibition Post 4: Susan Brind

Sweet Surrender, neon text, (2013)

Sweet Surrender is a reflection on the final command uttered by St Columba in the C7th to his community on Iona and, somewhere in the background, an aural memory of Tim Buckley’s seductive voice singing the refrain from 1972:  “…. sweet surrender, it’s so sweet to surrender, oh sweet surrender to love …”; his voice an embodiment of earthly passion.  Both speak of love; one secular the other sacred but both felt intensely.  It was said by St Adomnán that Columba was so loved that he was visited by angels; immaterial beings who could move between the heavenly and physical worlds.  Accounts tell of how seeing an ‘angel’ can illuminate one’s whole being.

On the last day of his life, at the point when his corporeal self was giving way to unite with the Divine he so desired, and with foresight of the imminence of his death, Columba said:  “love one another unfeignedly”.  Four simple words but can we really understand them in their fullest sense?

Susan Brind is Reader in Contemporary Art and lectures in the Department of Sculpture & Environmental Art, co-ordinating the final year undergraduate and M Litt programmes, as well as supervising PhD students at The Glasgow School of Art.

Convocation Exhibition post 3: Caroline Dear

The nature of I, Peat, water, book and found object (2013)

The I is a form of self portrait, I am thinking about my identity, my individual-ness. I, me, myself – our society relishes the ego. We worship the special qualities and identity of individuals, especially in the art world. The authority of the creator, making original work is paramount. To make strong art, however, I believe the ego needs to be in abeyance and I also question whether work can ever be original seeing as we are a fundamental part of the zeitgeist.

 

Peat is the one material that physically links us to the time of the monks It was around then and is unchanged. Peat is a lovely material it holds the resonance of a place, it is formed from one plant, Sphagnum, with everything else coming from the air (pollen, CO2 dissolved, ash from volcanic eruptions etc.) around it – peat forms at 1mm a year.

At the time of Columba, a monk’s aim was to lose the individual, the ego, in recognition of the greater I, the creator of all. This book, ‘Life of St. Columba’ by Adomnán, would, at the time of Colm Cille, have been its own character, also itself an I. In the book there is an amusing miracle where Columba is asked by another monk to check his recently illuminated texts for a book. Columba replied, ‘Neither one letter too many nor one too few – except that in one place the letter ‘I’ is missing’. The book was duly checked and indeed one ‘I’ was missing.

One of the other references I was drawn to in ‘Life of St Columba’ gives us the story of Columba asking where he should […]

Convocation Exhibition Post 2: Thomas Joshua Cooper

Works:

Remembering the Celtic Peregrinati – Saint Patrick, Brendan and Columba

North – Looking towards Scotland. The North Channel, Benbane Head, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, 2013. The North-west Point of Northern Ireland.

East most – Looking towards Scotland. The North Channel and The Irish Sea. Burr Point, The Ards Peninsula, County Down, Northern Ireland, 2013. The East-most point of all Ireland.

Looking towards Ireland – St Patrick’s birthplace. The River Mite, Ravenglass, Cumbria (2013)

Evening – The Reputed Burial Place of the Irish Saints –Patrick, Brigid and Columba. The River Quoile, Downpatrick, County Down, Ireland (2013)

Evening – St Columba’s Birthplace. Gartan Lough, County Donegal, Ireland (2013)

Last light – Looking West – the Birthplace of St Brendan the Navigator, the Wanderer. The North Atlantic Ocean and Brendon Bay, Brandon Point, The Dingle Peninsula, County Derry, Ireland, (2002-13)

Last Light – High wind – A Crossing Point. The River Foyle – Lowther Peace Bridge, Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland (2013)

Over an eleven day period, Thomas Joshua Cooper, travelled to Skye, Raasay, Cumbria and Northern Ireland, covering a total of 3135 miles.

He worked on two photographic bodies of work. For one series, he went to the very edges of land, visiting the cardinal points of Northern Ireland including Benbane Head, County Antrim, the north-west point and then onto the east-most point at Burr Point on the Ards Peninsula.  In particular, with the latter location, he focused on the view from Ireland across the water to Scotland, aiming to echo St Columba’s last view from Ireland, before his exile to Scotland.

For the second series, he travelled to photograph the birthplaces of Saint Patrick, St Brendan and St Columba. The way he described Lough Gartan, St Columba’s birthplace as having, “Three silver birches, leaning towards the Lough, […]

Convocation, Glasgow, Exhibition Post 1: Edwin Pickstone

Convocation: Colm Cille’s Spiral exhibition ran 12 Oct – 1 Nov 2013 at Mackintosh Museum, The Glasgow School of Art. Participating artists were Emma Balkind, Susan Brind, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Caroline Dear, Michail Mersinis, Hardeep Pandhal, Francis McKee, Edwin Pickstone, Jessica Ramm, Johnny Rodger, Augustus Veinoglou. All were invited to write about their work, and this information was available during the exhibition. The following posts will include each artist an image of their work.

 Edwin Pickstone: Illuminator

Map of a Convocation: Raasay, Letterpress print on Ordanance Survey map, gold bronzing powder (2013)

Using the landscape to structure content, the print is a map of Raasay and of the residency; It both records our experience and offers a guide to the processes behind the artworks. Influences in editing, composition and typography were drawn from illuminated manuscripts, early medieval maps and 18th century design practices (the latter made relevant through Samuel Johnson’s 1773 account of the island).

Edwin Pickstone is Typography Technician at The Glasgow School of Art, where he cares for the school’s collection of letterpress printing equipment.

Convocation CCA Glasgow event 11.10.13

The first part of Convocation occurred at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow on 11 October 2013. The event ‘Convocation: A contemporary response to the extreme past’ combined historical information with contemporary responses. University of Glasgow’s Gilbert Markus (lecturer, Celtic and Gaelic Dept) looked at Colm Cille, in his presentation ‘Who’s / Whose Colum Cille’, whilst his colleague Dr Katherine Forsyth (Reader, Celtic and Gaelic Dept) presented on ‘Columba’s Spirals’. Our illuminator Emma Balkind provided the contemporary response, with her recording from the Raasay residency entitled ‘Raasay ASMR’, of which a rough cut is available for listening to on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/emmabalkind/raasay-asmr-rough-cut .

Gilbert Markus’s presentation looked closely at the question of ‘Who is Colum Cille?’ remarking that St Columba’s identity shifted depending on “who you ask and what sources you use”. Markus stated that Columba had fallen out of favour in Scotland, and that there was evidence that he been erased in a number of instances. The first, was from a thirteenth-century Psalter, now in Oxford, but apparently possessed and used in Argyll.  There were a number of saints in its calendar, including Colum Cille, but his name had been removed from it. A similar ‘erasure’ took place in the landscape.  A chapel of Colum Cille existed at Skipness Castle in 1261.  Shortly afterwards it was taken over by the Stewarts, and the dedication disappeared. The chapel there is called Kilbrannan (church of St Brendan) now.

In Dr Forsyth’s presentation, she spoke about how words connect us to the extreme past, through the illuminations, and also material objects. Dr Forsyth went on to describe the symbol of the spiral as “a sending out and a gathering in”, which aptly describes the thought processes and movement of the […]

Documentation from ‘Convocation’, Mackintosh Museum, The Glasgow School of Art

Documentation from ‘Convocation’ exhibition at The Glasgow School of Art, which ran 12 Oct – 1 Nov 2013, can be viewed on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/glasgowschoolart/sets/72157637048601635/with/10536932373/

With work by Emma Balkind, Susan Brind, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Caroline Dear, Francis McKee, Michail Mersinis, Hardeep Pandhal, Edwin Pickstone, Jessica Ramm, Johnny Rodger and Augustus Veinoglou.