This article is from 2008.
Precious paint drops and bold language set out the stall as the Ingleby Gallery adjusts its priorities for a brand new space, finds Rosie Lesso
Edinburgh’s Ingleby gallery has gradually developed a solid reputation for showing emerging and established contemporary art in a domestic Georgian setting, but their art collection has grown along with their status, prompting directors Richard and Florence Ingleby to rethink their space both for storage and for exhibiting. Moving the gallery from their modest home on Carlton Terrace to the vast former Venue nightclub building behind Waverley Station marks quite a change in aesthetic for the Ingleby, with a geometric modernist look and large scale bringing it closer in style to the nearby Fruitmarket Gallery, a shift that will most certainly affect the appearance of the work they show.
You would be forgiven for thinking the space wasn’t quite finished yet in Gallery II on the ground floor; drips of paint lead us into the room where screws poke out from empty walls and a sweeping brush leans casually to one side. This is in fact artist Susan Collis’ installation, a cheeky and fitting curatorial choice. Collis’ accompanying materials list reveals some surprising facts; the screws are made from white gold, sapphire, or inlaid with diamonds, paint drips are recreated from mother of pearl and the broom is indented with tiny coloured pearls and diamonds. Collis effectively combines the visceral appeal of the unfinished with a play on artistic value, where transforming everyday objects into precious art has become commonplace. It works well too when seen from the street, particularly given that frantic building work and scaffolding surround the gallery.
Downstairs and upstairs Kay Rosen shows a range of prints and paintings under the title, Huen. Her prints all play with coloured words and their associative imagery. Most visually effective are two wall paintings in Gallery I on the first floor. In the first, ‘Seascape’ (2008) the words sky, fog and sea are imprinted one above the other on a huge scale in varying grey hues, a fitting, if clichéd set of words for an Edinburgh gallery. In the second, ‘Memory of Red’ (2008), the word ‘Remembered’ is disjointed into ‘Remember’ and ‘Red’, invoking images of roses, lipstick or blood. But when scaled down and framed in other works, the broken words, phrases and colours seem to lose their impact and appear overtly safe or commercial, a pale imitation of text artists like Lawrence Weiner and Ed Ruschka. In the smaller Ingleby Gallery these works would have looked more at home particularly given its domestic appearance, but here they are a safe choice for such a vast space.
The Ingleby’s public art project Billboard for Edinburgh, using the billboard above the gallery as a project space for four artists a year, is also up and running. It is a wise choice to use this space given its size and its prominence as it acts like a beacon for the new gallery, clearly visible when walking down Carlton Road. ‘Mark Wallinger is Innocent’, or so we are told by his huge monochrome poster way overhead. Is this a reference to an event in his life, or a simple declaration of peace? There is little in the gallery to explain the meaning behind the work, so it appears as a meaningless phrase, which is disappointing from such an overtly political artist. Nonetheless there is still a frisson in catching sight of this work on the way down the street, proving the immense potential of this site. (In November, Rachel Whiteread will take over the space.) In addition to the outside space, 50 editions of each billboard print will be created on a small scale, signed and dated by the artist. It does present an opportunity for art collectors, and is also a canny moneymaking scheme by this commercial gallery. So if you want to buy a print from the Turner Prize winner it will set you back a mere £350.00.
Ingleby Gallery, 0131 556 4441, Susan Collis until 24 September, •••• Kay Rosen until 27 Sept •••, Billboard for Edinburgh until 31 Oct, ••• open Mon – Sat 10 – 6, Sun 12 – 5, free