‘The Fold, A Creative Convention after Colm Cille’, ‘Colm Cille’s Spiral’, 30 Nov – 1 Dec 2013, Derry~ Londonderry

Colm Cille, the founding father of Derry, is attributed in a poem as describing the city as follows:

“The reason I love Derry /Is its quietness, its purity/ For full of angels white it is/ From one end to the other”.

We arrive in the city for our concluding event, ‘The Fold’, at a time when it could be described as busier than Colm Cille envisaged it in his mind’s eye, with impressive queues for the Turner Prize, nightly gatherings in squares to see the Lumiere Festival projections and generally a city and audience confidently in full swing for all the cultural offerings of Derry~Londonderry City of Culture 2013. With this event ‘The Fold’, The City of Culture itself and London Street Gallery become the containers for all six knots of ‘Colm Cille’s Spiral’.

There was a word regarding Celtic Art that Dr Katherine Forsyth (Reader, Celtic and Gaelic Dept, University of Glasgow) used in her presentation at CCA in Glasgow back in October:  ‘interlace’. Interlace refers to the complex geometric patterns on stones, manuscripts and on jewellery, where motifs are looped, and braid and knots intertwine. The detail is so extraordinary that in some of the manuscript illustrations, it would take a magnifying glass to see the full picture. This word ‘interlace’ describes my understanding of this multi-layered project.

So, if we pick up the magnifying glass and hold it up to ‘Colm Cille’s Spiral’ at its conclusion – ‘The Fold’- what can we see? The ‘interlace’ brings into full view the ‘knots’ of Glasgow / the Hebrides, Newcastle/ Lindisfarne / Bamburgh, Derry, Dublin, London / Bradwell-on-Sea and Lichfield / Llandeilo. The ‘interlace’ also braids the past and present, mirrored by a key objective of ‘Colm Cille’s […]

Convocation Exhibition Post 11: Emma Balkind

Emma Balkind

(CCA event only)

Raasay ASMR  

“My role on the residency was an illuminator. For this I decided to take along an audio recorder to bring back something of the trip for those of you who were not on it with us. A week on Raasay yielded hours of recordings, and so in order to reflect on the conversations we had together on Raasay, I have picked out some moments which I felt were representative of different aspects of the trip.

People sang, spoke in different languages, taught us skills, read to us, exercised, played instruments, shared stories, gave tarot readings, swam in the sea and shared every meal together. We spent a lot of time outdoors on Raasay, walking and discussing, but mainly listening. I have included some of the sounds of this place and time as we experienced it.”

Emma Balkind is an AHRC PhD Candidate at the Glasgow School of Art. 

Convocation Exhibition Post 10: Francis McKee

Drafts and Fragments from Raasay, Francis McKee, 2013

A new publication presented a diary from Francis McKee’s time on Raasay.

Excerpt:

A medievalist: Professor Clare Lees, is explaining to us that Columba and his monks were heavily influenced by the desert fathers – early Christians who retreated to the Scetes desert in Egypt to live as hermits or in monasteries. Rejecting all luxury they dwelt in the utmost simplicity, their lives shaped by the discipline of the monastic routine or by solitary prayer and meditation. Iona was founded on similar principles. The Atlantic ocean became the desert of the Western monks and the islands of the Hebrides were retreats from the mainland…..

Convocation Exhibition Post 9: Johnny Rodger

Where there is a woman, video, 4 mins, filmed by Talitha Kotze, edited by Ry McLeod

Where there is a woman looks at gender relations in the context of the sea journey, the lyric, the meeting of ocean and land, and the identity of territory. The Gaelic proverb attributed to Columba translates as: ‘Where there is a cow there is a woman. Where there is a woman there is trouble’.

(Gaelic proverb attributed to St Columba / video of women singing and reciting / plan of 2ndC  BC underground tunnel in Raasay / section of spiral form of Dante’s hell / 7thC Latin text of men on sea journey with monsters / 18thC Gaelic text of men on sea journey with monsters)

Johnny Rodger is Reader in Urban Literature at the Glasgow School of Art.

Convocation Exhibition Post 8: Michail Mersinis

Relics

Relic I-VII.  Silver gelatine Prints, 8×10” inches

 Hours

 

Hours I – Prime (the new hour). Reversed photographic negative backed with solid sterling silver, 20×24” inches

Hours II – Terce (the golden hour). Reversed photographic negative backed with solid sterling silver, 20×24” inches

Hours III – Sext  (the hour of light). Reversed photographic negative backed with solid sterling silver, 20×24” inches

Hours IV – None (the hour of temptation). Reversed photographic negative backed with solid sterling silver, 20×24” inches

Hours V – Vespers (the hour of contemplation). Reversed photographic negative backed with solid sterling silver, 20×24” inches

Hours VI– Compline (the hour of prayer). Reversed photographic negative backed with solid sterling silver, 20×24” inches

Hours VII- Matin (the longest hour). Reversed photographic negative backed with solid sterling silver, 20×24” inches

Sundials

 

1. Longtitude, solid steel plate cut with water, 8×10” inches

2. Latitude, solid steel plate cut with water, 8×10” inches

3. Elevation, solid steel plate cut with water, 8×10” inches

4. Summer Time, solid steel plate cut with water, 8×10” inches

5. Winter Time, solid steel plate cut with water, 8×10” inches

6. Magnetic Declination, solid steel plate cut with water, 8×10” inches

7.Tide, solid steel plate cut with water, 8×10” inches

The work on the project is concerned with the notions of time and place. Making a single picture on each of the canonical hours, which mark the divisions of the day in terms of periods of fixed prayer at regular intervals an attempt is made to connect with a time that has passed. Each hour and each division of the day is characterised by conditions. Conditions of light and conditions of activity describe and organise each day that passed and is to come. The monks that followed this strict structure did so with the intention of allowing for themselves the opportunity to venture on devotional pilgrimages each day. The series of […]

Convocation Exhibition Post 7: Hardeep Pandhal

In Praise of Conjecture, 8 minute .mov, ink and gouache on paper, custom airbrush t-shirt, 4 used books, MDF, (2013) with ‘’Saint Assent’ (11 minute mp3) by David Steans with Iona Smith.

The title is inspired by Desiderius Erasmus’s parodic essay ‘In Praise of Folly’. My own copy of the essay is displayed in book form as part of my response to the residency, which consists of four components laid flat on a single, coffin-esque, plinth: a video, a drawing, used books and a custom airbrush t-shirt. In addition, a commissioned ballad is emitted from inside the plinth.

The video merges footage taken during a promotional interview arranged and shot by GSA Exhibitions department halfway through the residency and footage shot by myself intermittently throughout the residency. I was asked to describe what it was like to work with my fellow residents and what I thought about the ‘mandatory’ reading of The Life of St. Columba. Incidentally, I did not make it to the end of the book. Instead, adopting the viewpoint that just as much, if not more, significance can be gleaned from observing the benefactors of a nationwide project such as this than its supposed cultural target(s), I treated my own unrehearsed answers to the questions from the interview as starting points to make my overall response. The two types of footage differ markedly in their approach. In both I saw ritual behaviour being played out. I wanted to highlight this affinity without labouring upon it too forcefully in postproduction – to mirror in the viewing the conflicted and somewhat improvised nature of my responses in the video. I also wanted to get a sense of how intention may be imposed by others through communal and often seem-less pressures. […]

Convocation Exhibition Post 6: Augustus Veinoglou

Inbred, fabric, timber, steel, lights (2013)

Inbred is a site-specific installation which sets as its basic premise, the audience’s experience of the space it is surrounded by. Inspired by the architecture of confession boxes, the work invites the audience to circulate around and experience the nuances of light and shade and the internal aesthetic interplay with the architecture of the museum space.

Inspired by the 6th century Irish monk St. Columba and specifically by Adomnán of Iona’s The Life of St. Columba; the work serves as a metaphor of the effect of Divine light during St Columba’s miracles and angelic apparitions.   The presence of “internal light” as a sign of divinity within objects, buildings and rooms is consistent in the Third Book: – “concerning visions and angels”, becoming a pattern throughout. The appearance of  Holy light, during miracles and angelic interventions seems to be a barometer of holiness amongst the brethren in the book. Disclosed or even forbidden at times in the martyries by Adomnán, the non-consented seeing of the holy light is considered sacrilege and can be punished by God through the holy powers of the Saint. The work is inspired by this metaphor and is a derivative of it, using light as a symbol of truth and an end point or Pinnacle.

Augustus Veinoglou lives and works in Edinburgh.

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 […]