Ian Hamilton Finlay: Nature Over Again After Poussin 1979-1980
The Park Gallery
August 23-November 16
Last November, I received an excited email from Gillian Smith, curator at Falkirk's small but punchy Park Gallery. She had just heard that the venue had been selected to host an exhibition by seminal Scots artist Ian Hamilton Finlay as part of the fifth Artist Rooms tour and was eager to share the good news. This is a real coup for the gallery, which is housed within Falkirk's historic Callendar House, not to mention a coup de foudre for Finlay fans.
Finlay, who died in 2006 at the age of 80, was a poet and artist, a cultural thinker and a gardener. His world-famous garden, Little Sparta, at Stonypath in the Pentland Hills, gave him a canvas to bring to life his abiding interest in the classical and neo-classical world.
In this installation, Nature Over Again After Poussin, he uses 11 carefully chosen views of his garden to suggest the works of 11 famous painters of the past.
Finlay was a great collaborator and this work shows his passion for the process of working with fellow artists in spades.
Copies of the relevant artists' signatures, carved in stone by Nicholas Sloan, are placed in real settings and carefully framed photographs were taken by Dave Paterson, who mounted them on pieces of perspex to reassemble plates in an open book.
To accompany the installation, flute music, composed by Wilma Paterson and played by David Nicholson, can be heard. The tune is called The Julie Theme and is named after the heroine and creator of a secret garden in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's novel, La Nouvelle Héloise. As with all of Finlay's work, there are layers within layers.
The Park Gallery will be holding several related events to tie in with this exhibition, including a trip to Little Sparta from Callendar House on Sunday, September 8. See website for details.
Mach Goes Commando
August 19-October 10
Like many boys growing up in the years following the second world war, artist David Mach spent much of his spare time (the time boys today probably use for playing war games on a console) engrossed in comics. As he admits now, losing himself in the war comics, books and cartoons produced by Dundee-based publisher DC Thomson was a major preoccupation for him back then.
Mach - whom many readers will know as the artist who created the Big Heids sculptures by the side of M8 motorway - was born in Leven in 1956. His work is now known all over the world, but if he was to create the portrait of himself as the artist as a young man, it would definitely include references from the Commando comics of his youth. And so Mach Goes Commando parachutes into the artist's home turf of Lochgelly in Fife on Monday.
"I think I was really affected by the drawing," he says. "The quality of the drawing in all of these comics and publications was really high. DC Thomson's artists were of an exceptionally high calibre. That company went to a lot of bother to produce their comics. They were inspirational and are still inspirational now."
Mach Goes Commando is a new body of work made up of prints, collages and paintings, celebrating Mach's childhood heroes. Exhibition organiser Gillian Parsons says she is delighted that Mach, one of Scotland's best-known artists, is returning to his Fife roots for this show in the redeveloped Lochgelly Centre.
"The artwork will have great appeal to our gallery visitors," she says. "DC Thomson comic books were a big part of young people's lives, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s, before television culture set in. The images will evoke many memories and will be a fantastic catalyst for conversation."