Glasgow Art Fair

April 2001

Publication: The Times

Now in its sixth consecutive year, the Glasgow Art Fair opens tomorrow in George Square.  Representing forty galleries under one roof, the fair brings together dealers, collectors and artists from all parts of Scotland, and beyond.  Such a forum is indicative  of Glasgow’s newly found cultural confidence and economic buoyancy which in turn is able to sustain a lively, if at times limited, art market.

Most parts of the artistic and aesthetic spectrum find representation here including long established dealers in traditional art such as Duncan Miller and Ewan Mundy as well as the innovative and challenging  Modern Institute which curates projects, maintains a stable of artists and will soon open an exhibition space in Glasgow city centre.

And while there is perhaps an inevitable weighting in terms of Glaswegian organisations, others such as Inverness-based, Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery, Peacock Printmakers from Aberdeen and the Mainhill Gallery in Roxburgheshire have all considered it in their best interests to have a presence.  The furthest flung contributors are Maschenmode and Deutsch Britische Freundschaft, both of which are based in Berlin.  The presence of the German galleries demonstrates the international nature of the art world of which many younger, more experimental Scottish based artists have become in integral part.

As well as a wide geographical and aesthetic mix, a wide variety of media share a space under the canvas in this three-day event.  This spread ranges from the traditional stone carved figures of the Narwhal Inuit Art Gallery to the photographs of the Portfolio Gallery, publishers of ‘Portfolio’, a pre-eminent forum for photography which has featured numerous internationally celebrated practitioners.  This year Portfolio represents Glasgow based photographers Graham Govan and Samantha Bell, and a number of others including Calum Colvin, Patricia Macdonald and David Williams.

This year Glasgow School of Art also has a presence, demonstrating that the work of artists still in the process of completing their training has a marketable value — some of these featured artists include Joan Crawley, Mithu Sen and Blair Thomson.

The presence of organisations such as the Modern Institute — represented by around fifteen artists including Toby Paterson, Simon Starling and Victoria Morton — is greatly to be welcomed not least because it extends the scope of cutting-edge and challenging work to a wider public. However, the absence of such prominent organisations as the Ingleby Gallery and the Collective Gallery is to some extent puzzling and disappointing.  In a similar way, Edinburgh’s newest gallery, doggerfisher, which opens its doors on May 12 is also not represented.  At a cost of £3000 per stall one can only conclude that it does not make commercial sense for these organisations to have a presence and that other, international, art fairs such as Berlin and Madrid represent better commercial and networking opportunities.

The diversity of this year’s fair clearly reflects the policy of the selection panel to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.  But it is also inescapable that a number of major London galleries who participated in earlier years are now notable by their absence. That said, Glasgow and its City Council, deserve plaudits for continuing to fund such an event which clearly underlines the case for the increased development of an art market in Scotland.


Glasgow Art Fair

George Square


0141 553 1937

5-8 April


Published in The Times, Around the Galleries, 04-04-01