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 […]

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.

The Power of the Object

 

I’m looking forward to the sixth knot of Colm Cille’s Spiral, which moves to Dublin to reinterpret his legacy and influence through the theme “The Object”. The commission links curatorial, artistic, historian and archeological practice.

 

Although Dublin is not directly linked to Colm Cille, many of objects related to Colm Cille have returned to the capital Irish city and have become relics and monuments to the Saint. What is interesting about the objects is that many of them are books and manuscripts, which Colm Cille intended as a means of sharing knowledge. However, many of these books are hidden away from the public eye. One of the objects is the Cathach or “battle book”, the story of which was controversial as it was famously copied from Finnian and a battle ensued. There have many stories, interpretations and superstitions connected to this book and it seems this is where a space for artistic interpretation lies.

The Cathach

 

Derry is also a place where objects are personified and hold memory. The Colm Cille’s Spiral final exhibition is coinciding with ‘A history of Derry in 100 objects’ allowing the objects to tell their story and preserves people and events safekeeping personal meaning and symbolism.

 

These medieval objects raise many questions that remain unanswered, they invite a re-telling. This space of mystery is where the artist, Tracy Hanna will bridge the gap. Having looked at past works from Tracey Hanna gives me an insight into what she’ll create for the Dublin commission. Her work is site specific and engages with the narrative surrounding the objects. She has chosen to use natural elements such as peat, reminiscent of the tale of Colmcille returning to Ireland walking on peats of Scottish soil as he […]