This weekend I went along to see the British Art Show 8 at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and as a lover and champion of contemporary art I'm sad to say I was a bit underwhelmed. The one stand out piece for me was this stunning sculptural rug pictured above, a collaboration between artist Linda Sterling and Dovecot Studios titled 'Diagrams of Love: Marriage of Eyes'. Always a sucker for a retro vibe, I was instantly drawn to the vibrant colours, patterns and movement of the piece.
In fairness, I did go along without knowing what the exhibit was about and I'm not much of a fan of film installations (despite being an utter cinefile) so with such an emphasis on this medium it was never going to be a major winner with me. But in their own words:
"The curators of British Art Show 8, Anna Colin and Lydia Yee, have selected the work of 42 artists who have made a significant contribution to contemporary art in the UK over the past five years. The result is a wide-ranging exhibition that encompasses performance, film, sculpture, installation and painting and design."
For me the exhibition didn't gel that well and I just didn't feel engaged. I took my Mum along with me who is a major art skeptic (once unarguably describing a Jim Lambie exhibition as 'just someone's wacky ideas', which still makes me chuckle), and I do normally enjoy the discussions we have together and the challenge of attempting to explain the value of contemporary art. However, even I struggle to justify a room full of rusty nails. Maybe I was having an off day.
It's that age old question of 'what is art?'. My friend and most fabulous Scottish contemporary artist Abigail Beeley is currently working on a project along a similar vein This Is (Not) Art; a participatory project asking people to literally make that decision about the environment around them. I've been armed with pocketful of stickers for weeks and it really does make you look at your everyday world in a whole new way!
We finished our visit in the cafe so here is a picture of the cake selection which is always thing of beauty in itself, and unequivocally a work of art.
British Art Show 8 is taking place across 3 venues in Edinburgh (Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; and Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh) from 13 February – 8 May 2016.