Publication: The Times
Merete Barker’s paintings are large in scale and bold in execution. She uses the city as a metaphor for human experience, basing her paintings on synthesised, intensely distilled impressions of cities from all over the world, including India, Java, Guatemala and China. For Barker, ancient architecture is mysterious and powerful, speaking to us of the past from the past, but also forming a link to the present.
Her working methods are intricate and painstaking, illustrated by numerous photographs, which themselves can be read as kind of ‘text’. Often, a detail, for example a carved head, is presented from numerous perspectives, almost as if the Barker wants to directly convey the idea walking past and observing closely.
The City as Image, Red City - Black City
Danish Cultural Institute
3 Doune Terrace
0131 225 7189
Until 16 Sept
US conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner’s sculptural installation has involved creating a written text on the interior walls of Inverleith House. Described as site-specific, it aims to demonstrate a relationship between the work and its context. The text reads “Found due to its nature/after any given time/found to make do with/after any given time...” and although intriguing and enigmatic, the link with its surroundings is not immediately obvious. Like Joseph Beuys, and many others, Weiner argues that language itself can be a component of sculpture and that by taking words — as objects and as signifiers of meaning — and placing them in a new context, they acquire added resonance. All of this is fine as an intellectual construct, except that in this case, it’s difficult to see how the means justifies the end.
‘Time and Place’
Royal Botanic Garden
0131 248 2983
Until Oct 29
Barbara Rae’s work is seductive, colourful and decorative and her show of recent work inspired by recent journeys to the south-western United States, certainly remains true to her central approach. Rae is an artist as explorer and she is constantly in search of new horizons to extend and deepen her vision. This she has done, drawing for inspiration on the pictographs (cave paintings) and petroglyphs (carved images on exposed surfaces) of the native peoples of the region. Most of this dates from the Archaic Period (5,500 BC to 100 AD) but was a tradition which endured subsequent waves of invasion. Some of these strange images — such as the “Cloud People” of the Hopi — have been incorporated by Rae into her work. In ‘Story Wall - Woo Ranch’, for example, a pictographic-style image shows a hunter stalking his quarry in a kind of shamanistic ritual.
This is a type of borrowing which is, like it or not, part of our heterogeneous world culture and in the tradition of many other artist-travellers, not least Robert Louis Stevenson.
Ceramist Diana Hobson, glass-artist Keiko Mukaide and photographer Craig Mackay have collaborated thoughtfully in a show split between the Scottish Gallery and the Royal Botanic Garden. The aim has been to make work which sensitively interacts with its given environment, in this case the various types of environments replicated in the glass houses of the RBG. And where Lawrence Weiner’s work is less convincing, this collaboration succeeds because of its immediate visual and sensual impact.
The Scottish Gallery
16 Dundas Street
0131 558 1200
Until Sept 6
The Scottish Gallery/Royal Botanic Garden
0131 552 7171
Until Sept 18
Published in The Times, Around the Galleries, 23-08-00