Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Natural History Societies and Museums in Glasgow

The recent talk by Richard Sutcliffe , the Research Manager of Natural History for Glasgow Museums , highlighted the close relationship between the numerous and varied natural history societies in Glasgow and the city's museums. This partnership , which has existed since the Victorian era , has been responsible for the many generous donations , both large and small ,which have been given by the societies' members to the museums , from the past to the present day ,making the Natural History acquisitions the largest part of Glasgow Museums collections. The significance , enthusiasm and influence of these natural history societies has lasted the test of time , with their membership , most importantly amongst the younger generation , increasing every year . 

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Inner City

On the 15th February, members of the FoGM executive attended Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art at the opening of Inner City, a group exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Michael C McMillen and Glasgow-based artists Alberta Whittle and Mitch Miller.  
Inner City explores questions about the modern city, hidden communities and cultural identity. The exhibition takes its name from its centrepiece, a multimedia installation by Michael C McMillen – an amazingly detailed and atmospheric fictional depiction of a Los Angeles slum, which is on display for the first time in 15 years. Works by Alberta Whittle and Mitch Miller bring a local context to the dialogue. The exhibition is accompanied by a programme of related artist films.  
Born in Los Angeles, Michael C McMillen is a visual artist in the very widest sense. Often overlapping, his work involves sculpture, installation, printmaking and cultural anthropology. While building his reputation as an artist McMillen created props and special effects for the film industry, with his work featuring in movies including ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. 
Reflecting the artist’s concerns about the lack of investment in infrastructure and social care in the United States in the 1970s, Inner City is a hyperreal model of an imagined rundown area of Los Angeles. The installation, first shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1978, allows viewers to become immersed in the nightscape of a derelict neighbourhood, altering their sense of personal scale as they look at the miniature dystopian world. It was purchased by Glasgow Museums in 1996.  
 © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection
Local artist Mitch Miller’s publically engaged artworks also explore hidden or forgotten communities in an attempt to make them more discernible. As a social researcher he has created an art form he named dialectogram. Often pen and ink on mounted board, Miller’s work is the process that goes into the drawing after an extended period of time working with a community. It is the relationship and connections he develops that dictate the content of the drawing. Three dialectograms depicting a community flat in Edinburgh, Clydebank Library and a bar on the Red Road Housing Estate in Glasgow feature alongside an unfinished work portraying Britain’s longest student occupation at   the University of Glasgow.  

Whittle’s practice is grounded in her Scottish-Caribbean heritage and her works reflect her interest in migrating cultures and how the culture of a multi-stranded society develops. Her videos and collage works questions postcolonial power as articulated through memory and history. Often gathering documentation from private and public performances in different site-specific locations, Whittle has developed an archive of images to transform into her collage and film work. The artist’s pieces often respond to the sea as site of labour, capitalism, surveillance and death, but also survival and the possibility for rebirth and transformation. Two digital films, three digital prints and a bronze cast are on show as part of Inner City.
Alberta Whittle and Mitch Miller will be GoMA’s Associate Artists throughout 2018. The Associate Artist programme has been made possible by generous support from the Friends of Glasgow Museums (FoGM).
Gareth James
Museum Manager ,Gallery of Modern Art and Kelvin Hall