Outset Scotland supported the commission of a new body of work by Claire Barclay, for the Director’s Programme of Glasgow International 2016, which was exhibited on the second floor of the famous, but partially derelict, Kelvin Hall.
Bright Bodies, 2016
(steel, rubber, canvas, coal tar, machined metals, engine grease and soot)
Barclay’s adventurous, large-scale, sculptural installation responded to physicality and the history of the location. Kelvin Hall had been closed since August 2014 in anticipation of the building’s major refurbishment, but was temporarily reanimated during this phase in its development by Glasgow International. The building was originally used to house large scale national and international exhibitions, and Barclay was drawn to archival material relating to the 1951 Exhibition of Industrial Power – an occasion when Scotland showcased its steel and coal industries with a certain romanticism. Later, the building played host to the Kelvin Hall circus, amongst other forms of entertainment, before becoming a sports arena in the 1980s. References to these overlapping histories are explicit in Barclay’s choice of materials, including coal tar, tent canvas, and rubber mats. The sculptural forms of Bright Bodies exemplify Barclay’s continuing exploration of how meanings are encapsulated within materials, whilst the tensions within them hint at the divergence between our veneration of industrial progress and the hard reality of production.
Claire Barclay (b. 1968 in Paisley, Scotland) lives and works in Glasgow. Barclay explores formal and conceptual concerns through both large and smaller scale installations. One of the key influences in her working practice is an ongoing fascination with historical and anthropological artefacts. She is drawn to the more ambiguous objects that spark a curiosity as to their uses and meanings. The objects in her work are unfamiliar, yet suggestive of function through their forms and material characteristics, which we interpret in order to imagine how people might interact with them. Turned wood, rawhide, soft leather, machined brass and woven straw are some of the materials that coalesce as the precious and the everyday, the handwoven and the mechanically produced, and are brought to the fore in Barclay’s work. Each sculpted piece teeters somewhere on the brink between the figurative and the abstract, between the ambiguous and the referential. Solo exhibitions include: Longing Lasting, Stephen Friedman Gallery (2015), Claire Barclay: Overworkings, Touchstones Rochdale, Lancashire (2015), Claire Barclay: Another Kind of Balance, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh (2013), Reading off the Surface, Skulpturi, Copenhagen, Denmark (2011), Shadow Spans, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010), Pale Heights, MUDAM, Luxembourg (2009), Claire Barclay, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2009), Open Wide, Camden Arts Centre, London (2008), Fault on the Right Side, Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany (2007), Half-Light, Tate Britain, London (2003), and Zenomap, Palazzo Guistinian-Lolin, Venice Biennale, Italy (2003).