We are writing to you from the comfort of the new normal. The big wide universe of the great indoors. Given our profound artistic temperaments (ha!), surely we need to find the artistry of this ‘new’ interior world. Or at least, we need to make the most – and see in new ways – that which we have so often numbed ourselves to, rushed past, and (often) slept through.
This is certainly not an original objective. People have been exploring, through artistic practice, the insides of built environments for many centuries. Drawing from the usual list of European male-artists, from Van Eyck to Van Gogh, Renoir to Picasso, and Vermeer to Hopper; countless canonised painters – for one reason or another – have captured the indoors in their own particular way. Artists have rendered stark realism, and have explored the imaginary; they’ve focussed in on light, shadow, and reflection, and the minutiae details of fabrics and objects; they have painted paintings of paintings; depicted candid scenes of life, and posed portraits; and they have shown the creeping-in of the natural world, and the endless possibilities of the artificial. If you are anything like us, you perhaps relate more strongly to the interior of an Emin, than that of a Vermeer. But regardless, artists remind us that the private interior is just as worthy of artistic exploration as all that exists beyond it.
It, of course, might require a different approach – and a different mindset – but we believe it is possible to find pockets of creativity wherever we are (or are not). So, we wanted to use this as an opportunity to have a look at how some of our own artists imagine the interior world. Perhaps it will inspire us all, to use a little bit of this strange time to ponder our own domestic spaces. How do they make us feel and think, and how might we creatively reimagine them, at a time when – let’s face it – we have nowhere else to escape to. So sit back, relax, and soak up a little bit of arty escapism. Or get cracking on your own artistic response to your current environment (and you’d better share it with us afterwards, on social media!)
We have immediately cheated. Ubiquitous Dots Paris I by Philippa Large is not a depiction of the great indoors. It is, however, like a chink in the wall for us to peer through, into the world beyond the interior. The frame functions as part of the larger piece, as if it were a window. And the sea-glass in the centre is like a lens; isolating, fixing, and suspending the fragment of the street below. The fragment itself is a black and white photograph, capturing an innocuous Parisian street view. Its edges fade, and the sky seeps into nothing, as if this were a decaying analogue shot. Philippa, it seems, has frozen this moment in time. And through this work we can stare into it. This is a unique, multi-media approach to looking from inside, out. Whether that be out of our current geographic place, or out of our current time. It begs the question, what can you actually see when you look through your window? And how can you capture what you see, in new ways?
Projection on Staircase by Hermione Macmillan demonstrates how we can take the form of something as quotidien as our staircase, and turn it into a glorious fusion of colour, geometry, senses, and layers. Hermione breaks the realistic form of a staircase corner, down into an arrangement of shapes and colour; which they, in turn, project an abstract artwork upon it. This projection seeps outwards into the form of the staircase, rendering an everyday space as a bursting synthesis of both art and menial. The piece, then, demonstrates how the imaginary or purely aesthetic can be delicately blended with anything we see in our indoor environments. We can break anything we see down into abstract forms, that we can then build back up again, into works like this one.
Isabelle Ryan captures a feeling in The Studio And The Stage, A Study In Flux. A multi-sensory feeling of being in a space. The loose, yet confident brush strokes – built up in varying thicknesses – bleed into each other, and seem to render form, light, texture, and atmosphere all at once. It’s observational, and yet infused with something more personal. There is nobody actually present in this scene. Aside from the half-absent someone, who takes in the room (maybe that’s us). So there’s a tension between occupied space, and absolute silent absence. This tension is heightened by Isabelle’s contention that their work as an “ immersive experience” for the viewer. It seems that Isabelle intends to push the viewer directly into this tension. And ‘immersion’ suggests this is perhaps intended as a visceral – not just a visual – experience. This work demonstrates that the feeling of a space is as worthy of thinking about, and capturing, as the visible form of any scene.
So… how can we think about the art of staying indoors? Our artists, shown here, chose to reinterpret the very real world out there in front of them, in personal, creative ways. And in ways not exclusively tied to a mimetic copying of that ‘real’ world. It is as much about our imagination – what we do with what we have – as anything else. It isn’t always about our movement through external spaces; our freedom to see everything beyond our walls. Rather, it is about our perspective upon absolutely anything that we do see (or don’t). We hope that this sentiment, and these works, inspire you to look under your nose (not literally. Or maybe literally? Whatever floats your boat) for arty inspiration – to carry you through the strange few months to come. We are still here and kicking, so keep in touch via our social media, and keep an eye on our all-things-digital – exhibitions, blogs, and the usual website, stuffed with the best art Glasgow has to offer.
Thank you, as ever, for reading!