Outset Scotland funded four newly commissioned bodies of work for ‘Spheres of Influence II’, part of the Alasdair Gray Season, curated by Jenny Brownrigg. In addition, our funding enabled an artist-driven programme of events and the presentation to the Glasgow School of Art Collection of one of each of the associated editions produced as part of the commission. This project was supported in association with YPO.
Phew drawings on decisions: Radio Octopus, (2014). Ink, paper. (Also editioned as a lithograph, edition of 10).
Phew drawings on decisions: The One, (2014). Ink, paper.
Phew drawings on decisions: Donkeyroo Caught, (2014). Ink, paper.
Alasdair Gray & My Bookcase, 2014
Gateway to Work, 2014. Artist’s Book. (Edition of 300).
Alphabet 1, lithograph, 2014, from original pen and ink drawing, 2011
A Rose in the Dawn, lithograph, 2014 from original pen and ink drawing, 2011
Alphabet 2, lithograph, 2014 from original pen and ink drawing, 2013. (Also in an edition of 10).
A Wake to the Dream, lithograph, 2014 from original pen and ink drawing, 2013
Oliver Braid (b.1984) holds a MFA from GSA. Braid has taken to working on A3 sketchbook paper for his intricate pen drawings – drawings that echo the effort and detail of Alasdair Gray’s illustrations for Lanark – where many worlds inhabit the modest space of a page. Braid conceals symbols and messages within his drawings, endeavouring, ‘to get away from our pre-occupation as the audience with the meaning of an artwork being the full stop and us working it backwards to understand it.’ He is keen that, ‘the artwork moves forward, relying on the idea of belief or leap of faith.’ The artist was invited to make a new series of three drawings for Spheres of Influence ll.
My Bookcase is a new social enterprise dedicated to connecting people through books. My Bookcase won a Deutsche Bank Award for Creative Enterprise in 2014. Its founder Cristina Garriga (b. 1986) holds a MLitt from GSA. From a dialogue between her and the artist and writer Alasdair Gray, a book resource was created for the exhibition. The collection of 16 books was picked by the artist from Gray’s personal bookshelves, and displayed in a purpose-built display and reading unit, acting as both reading resource and alternative portrait of the artist.
‘Alasdair Gray writes and draws in the same room, surrounded by books. This room, which some would call a library and others a studio, is the biggest room in the flat he has lived since the early 90s. The room is lit during the day by a large bay window that faces the street. This is the window that, before entering the flat, allows the visitor to have a first wee peek into Alasdair Gray’s world. Pencils, brushes, pots of paint, an easel and piles of books are his welcome. The space in front of the window is occupied by a large table covered with papers and half-finished drawings. Opposite, in the darkest part of the room, one finds two modest bookcases home to Gray’s oldest books, including second hand copies of books encountered in Riddrie Public Library by Gray when a child. Between the light and the dark are two important spaces, one private and one public. The first is a seating area in front of the fire. The second is a bookcase that fills the biggest wall in the room from door to window, built by Gray when he moved into the flat. Embedded amongst the shelves are two special objects placed next to each other: a handmade table with a glass surface, tilted at 45 degrees, and a wooden table, slightly lower with an incline of 30 degrees. Each piece of furniture fits Gray and his occupations – drawing, reading and writing – perfectly. Alasdair Gray writes and draws in the same room, surrounded by books.’
Stuart Murray (b.1978) studied Printmaking at GSA from 1997-2001. For his specially commissioned book, Murray returned to a period just after graduation when he was “compelled to attend a Gateway to Work course, part of the ‘New Deal’ workfare programme which was introduced by Tony Blair’s first New Labour Government.” In Spheres of Influence II, ‘Gateway to Work’ was shown next to extracts from Murray’s blog, where he regularly publishes new drawings based on his everyday encounters.
Murray’s work is highly observational with a strong element of social commentary – exploring gentrification, homelessness and begging, working and the workplace, politics, drinking and pub culture.
Murray has stayed in touch with Alasdair Gray ever since he sketched Gray asleep in a pub. Gray’s wife Morag handed him the sketch when he woke up, and they struck up a conversation and a friendship. Gray wrote to Murray in 2006, “I wish I was rich enough to pension you to do other reports on people in hospital waiting rooms – in poor pubs and posh pubs – in Merchant City restaurants AND THE KITCHENS BEHIND THEM – in the High Court lawyers’ common room – in police stations – newspaper offices – banks – estate agents – advertising agencies – the stock exchange floor (Glasgow has a stock exchange) and the council corridors.”
Hanna Tuulikki (b.1982) is an artist and composer. From 2003 to 2006 she studied Sculpture and Environmental Art at GSA. For her commission she created four lithograph prints from pen and ink drawings of two pictorial alphabets, where the letters are formed by naked figures, and two phrases drawn from those alphabets.
Alphabet 1 was originally devised as the artwork for the album ‘Love’s Spring’ (Tin Angel Records, 2012), and was inspired by medieval figurative alphabets. The characters are composed – or figured – from naked male and female bodies, unfolded in their full glory. The letterforms celebrate the human body, hinting at sexuality and sensuality, and the power-dynamic of love’s inter-play. Alphabet 1 was used to spell out ‘A ROSE IN THE DAWN’.
Alphabet 2 was designed for the album A Wake (Tin Angel Records, 2014). The alphabet was inspired by (and here spells out) the lyrics of ‘A WAKE TO THE DREAM’ – a wake for lost hopes and failed dreams, yet at the same time holding out the prospect of an awakening, and the ultimate realisation of a kinder, fairer world. Again devised from naked figures, on this occasion carrying tools, the alphabet celebrates the everyday objects with which we make and remake the world. The objects carry both practical and symbolic meanings:
The art of navigation: hope – telescope, lantern?
The apparatus of rebellion: victory – gun, sword
The arts of design and construction: action – compass, protractor, saw, hammer
The arts of agriculture, horticulture, hunting: sustenance – watering-can, wheelbarrow, scythe, bow and arrow.