Cooling Down in the 38 Degrees in the Shade Show

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Cooling Down in the 38 Degrees in the Shade Show

Glasgow School of Art Degree Show, 2018

By Keith MacBeath
On a walk through a balmy, sexy, uncomfortably culturally zeitgeist-y Glasgow today, sipping mojitos whilst listening to live jazz, live folk and flicking through racks of vinyl, books, contemporary prints and eating pretentiously unpretentious vegan scran, I ducked into the Tontine at the Trongate to cool off and take in the Degree Show by The Glasgow School of Arts.

I love art. All art. Viewing creativity, ingenuity and the ability to manipulate emotions using ink, paper, paint, soviet phones, wood, fabrics, sounds, lights, and melted plastics with a good cup of coffee in hand (perhaps the biggest surprise in my life has been the seemingly sudden prolification of amazing coffee available in paper cups throughout this city!), is something I could do all day, every day.  And Glasgow has some prime sights in which you can do just that. Kelvingrove Art Museum is a massive favourite of mine, where many a rainy day are spent gazing at Salvador and the rest wi’ a wee swally in my brass hipflask.

This, though was something different. Vast in the sheer amount of work, and vast in  scope. And mostly from the minds of unmuddled people still in their very early twenties. This old carcass creaking through the vibrancy, and the hope and the smiling, fresh faced young folk and the ultimate pieces of their four years of study was done with a lump in my throat. There is nothing that points a scrawny, bony, long nailed finger at your very laboured, slowing heart like young people starting their journey.

I won’t review work, but the journey from private bathrooms of disembodied women, through operating rooms carefully and intricately cut, through sound scapes, horses on wheels, cowboy boots and grotesques, and scenes so beautiful I cried. Some installations shook me, and some questioned what I knew about Scotland’s political landscape (including the political flags and political pottery) and some took me into lives that are unpublished and unsung. Some made me laugh, and some had obviously stunned judges as prizes adorned the entrances to some of the pieces (the best being, the self ascribed, “Future Underachiever Award.”)

Glasgow needs this fresh wave of creativity every year. This exhibition is one I have stumbled, raced and ranted around through the years. It is the lapping new tide, washing over dry sand, renewing and shaping the years that come. And like the tide, it is regular. And it changes things subtly but relentlessly.

But on this uncharacteristic muggy, tropically oppressive, hot, Glasgow day, in this uncharacteristically tropical fortnight, I stood cooling at the last, almost shy, exhibit and I pondered on my two hour journey around an exhibition that by rights, I should take a few days to revisit and revisit (and will this week). And I realised as I stood there removed from the carribean sweat soaked honking, shouting, drunken accident that is a sunny West Coast of Scotland; amongst leaves and lush cooling ivy’s and lichens, that this one was my favourite. Its layered, creeping green unpretentious simplicity, yet intricate and obviously painstaking in detail, was the unembellished, unadorned but so apt and so Glasgow, Summer 2018 best of show, for me. Thank you Alanna McElroy.

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In the wake of the Brexit vote and Trump’s election victory, SKZ considered the question: “If you can’t laugh, what can you do?” and was disappointed to find that most of the options included actual effort: so he started to write cartoons instead.
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