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Bumper arts festival to bring £1m boost to city

GLASGOW'S economy is expected to benefit by more than £1 million as its contemporary arts festival opens this weekend.

DISPLAY: Sculptures by Turner nominee Karla Black are on show at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. Picture: James Galloway
DISPLAY: Sculptures by Turner nominee Karla Black are on show at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. Picture: James Galloway

In 2010, the last running of the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art (GI), net expenditure from visitors to the festival rose to more than £1m, because of a boost in visitor numbers from 2008.

This year, the festival, which features 130 artists across 50 exhibitions in the city including what is believed to be the biggest "bouncy castle" ever made, is hoping to attract 170,000 visits to shows, a rise from the 153,000 of 2010.

Last time, one-third of visitors to the city came from outside Scotland, with one-fifth from overseas, and this year the organisers hope the quality of the artists at GI, such as Turner Prize winners Richard Wright, Jeremy Deller and Wolfgang Tillmans, the 2011 Turner-nominee Karla Black, plus many others, will encourage more visitors to the city.

Overall at GI 2010, attendances increased by 71% to a total of 153,182, in a year that was negatively affected by the presence of the Icelandic ash cloud.

Wright, known for his elaborate wall paintings, has the first show of his works on paper at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and Black has filled the main chamber at Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) with a work made from sawdust and polythene.

Newly-commissioned work by leading international and local artists such as Rosalind Nashashibi, with film showing Scottish Ballet in rehearsals, and Nairy Baghramian are also on show.

One of most spectacular new works on display is Sacrilege by 2004 Turner Prize winner Deller – a large inflatable structure which is an exact 1:1 replica of Stonehenge. It is situated on Glasgow Green and will head to London during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The work is believed to be the biggest inflatable structure, or bouncy castle, of its kind, and is open to children and adults. The large structure, placed on the green near the People's Palace, takes 10 minutes to inflate and deflate.

Yesterday, Deller said he had wanted to make the work for three or four years before he was given the opportunity to make it for GI, with funding of £60,000 from Creative Scotland.

"I suppose it's not a bouncy castle, it's a bouncy structure, as Stonehenge isn't a castle," he said.

"It is re-imagining the place itself for the UK.

"It is an icon of Britain, but no-one really knows what happened there, or what it was for, or means, and I think we don't know what 'Britishness' means either."

Elsewhere in the festival, Art Lending Library will allow people to borrow a work of contemporary painting, drawing, video art or sculpture and take it home for three days, in a new scheme that is part of the GI.

Starting on Monday, works by leading contemporary names such as Graham Fagan, Joanne Tatham and Tom O'Sullivan, and Jacqueline Donachie and Roddy Buchanan, among more than 50 others, can be borrowed from the library, which is itself based in the Mitchell Library.

Organised by the city's Market Gallery and artists Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich, the works of art are insured in the library and during transit, but artists have agreed to "trust" borrowers to look after their works while they are in their homes.

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