Another Country exhibition: a topical subject meets remarkable artwork

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The installation by Toby Peterson at Another Country. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

 

“You come in and it’s quite confrontational. It blocks off a large part of the gallery and on a very literal physical level acts as a barrier,” says artist and curator Euan Gray. “But it’s permeable, he left spaces – as if no borders or barrier is impossible to get through.”

Euan is describing the luminescent orange, capacious fence that is powerfully situated as the exhibition’s centrepiece. The towering instalment is startling yet not distressing. The artist behind it, Toby Paterson, has purposely used ‘safety’ orange. This particular shade of orange stimulates images of life jackets and rescue boats – much like those an immigrant may encounter on their journey.

Contemporary immigration to Scotland, integration and identity are the topics that this exhibition, Another Country, explores through the work of 11 artists. Euan has collaboratively curated the exhibition alongside Alberta Whittle, which is currently displayed at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre.

Each piece in the exhibition is thought-provoking and visually arresting without having to resort to shockingly pervasive imagery. The artists – all of who are either living in Scotland or were born here – address a period of cultural movement or geographical and political unrest through various mediums.

“We’re trying to look at migration from as many different angles as possible,” says Euan. And this is undoubtedly apparent.

Julie Roberts offers a historical reflection of migration with her stained glass like oil painting series on the migration of 10,000 Jewish children in 1938, known as the Kindertransport. Euan refers to it as a ‘positive forced migration’ as the operation rescued the children from the clutches of the Nazis and allowed them to start a new life. Julie perfectly captures the sense of tentative excitement and a new beginning.

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Julie Robert’s oil paintings. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

More up to date, The Brexit Beast is a reaction piece by Andrew Gilbert especially made for this exhibition. The Scottish artist’s grotesquely caricatured Loch Ness monster-like creature sits on the banks overlooking a sea of boats overturned and flailing people drowning. At the enormous monster’s claws, there is a swarm of soldiers, a burning Grenfell Tower and traffic lights. A spiked, menacing medieval morning star weapon and a defiant, waving Union Jack makes up the Brexit beast’s two-pronged tail. Observing the sketch provokes a wry smile before a sense of foreboding reality sets in.

“I’m not wanting to change anybody’s views,” says Euan. “If they just think about migration, then we’ve achieved something. I think it’s important that people just consider both sides of the argument.”

“I just think it’s a very, very important topic that’s only going to get more significant and more heated in the future because of all the tensions that are in the world at the moment.”

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Inside the Another Country exhibition. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

The exhibition took three years of planning after the idea was sparked from Euan visiting Canada and the USA. While there, realised that over 25 million people claim Scottish heritage yet the Scots cultural identity remains prominent. Another Country has previously toured a university in Minnesota and galleries in England.

During these years Euan worked on his own magnum opus for the exhibition. His standout piece is the most interactive of the exhibition, which boasts an extensive variety of art forms including sculpture, photography and film.

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Artist Euan Gray beside his work. (Photo Credit: Rachel Lee)

Although his roots are in painting, he challenged himself to design a functioning pinball machine called ‘The Immigration Game’. The picture etched on the retro machine’s backboard is of a life-jacketed immigrant clutching a young boy in his arms, reminiscent of the images commonly splashed across the front pages of newspapers. The nod to the media is deliberate.

“The game is made to be played for three minutes, which is the average time people spend reading the news.” Euan explained, “I saw the parallel between the entertainment side of playing the game and the media’s involvement with migration from the side of trying to get ratings.”

Inspired by the UKIP poster used in the run-up to Brexit, the motherboard of the machine is a sea filled with the boats full of immigrants.

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The pinball machine’s promotional poster, a painting by Euan. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

“So it was called the Immigration Game as it’s obviously a very ironic title because it’s not a game for the people trying to cross Europe in boats. We’ll play this game, we walk off and forget about it.”

A visitor is unlikely to forget this exhibition, however. Euan says the aim of the exhibition was to open a political dialogue with the audience by being playfully interactive and inclusive, which it certainly has achieved.

You can visit the free exhibition at the City Art Centre before it comes to a close on Sunday the March 17th, a mere 11 days before the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union.

There is a workshop Saturday the February 9th, titled The Legacy of Colonialism that is led by the Another Country team. The workshop will run 10 am – 4 pm at the gallery.

Find out more about the gallery, exhibition and workshop here.

Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

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Melissa McCarthy & Richard E. Grant. (Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

As the snow falls heavily on the skyscrapers and streets of New York City, writer Lee Israel suddenly finds herself without any financial security when she is fired from her job. Israel has talent but finds it impossible to make money from it, which pushes her towards the criminal activity of fabricating celebrity letters. The film is based on Israel’s 2008 memoir with the same name, in which she explained more about her path towards literary forgery.

Israel’s arrogance is palpable from the very start of the film, something actress Melissa McCarthy portrays genuinely. She doesn’t like anyone except her cat, who she seems to have great affection for. The love of her life. Although she appears in almost every scene of the film, it never gets boring. Her character is fascinating, even more so as it is based on a real writer. Israel doesn’t care about what others think of her, not in the slightest. She is fully herself. As she meets her extravagant drinking partner Jack Hock, played by Richard E. Grant, they explore the world of fabrication together. Grant is very convincing and entertaining and I specifically like their growing friendship that seems to make Israel find a little bit of joy in a world that she normally despises.

The director, Marielle Heller, managed to demonstrate Israel’s journey well – from the moment the downward spiral began with her money issues, all the way to her criminal career’s downfall. Despite its sadness, the film has many humorous moments. I found myself laughing out loud together with other viewers at the cinema at several parts. It was a very enjoyable watch and made me interested in reading the book. I think I will.

Watch the trailer below.

Colonel and General at war over new direction of Armed Forces recruitment.  

Two army officials are disagreeing about the new direction army recruitment has taken with the British Army’s new advert. Public opinion has weighed in with accusations of political correctness and focus is now on the future of the Armed Forces.

Multimedia adverts promoting new programmes to provide emotional and physical support for troops aired today following low numbers of new recruits but retired colonel Richard Kemp has said it will not solve the army’s ‘recruitment crisis’.

The advert featured voices of men concerned about the emotional pressure to be ‘superheroes’, the acceptance of diverse sexuality and in one scene a young Muslim man explains how the army has allowed him to practice his faith. Compared to other adverts that heavily feature combat scenes and strong masculine images, attention is focused on taking care of the individual’s needs.

General Sir Nick Carter told BBC Radio 4s programme that

‘Our society is changing and I think it is entirely appropriate for us to therefore try and reach out to a much broader base to get the talent we need in order to sustain combat effectiveness’.

The army general believes that by representing all areas of society the army can maximise the skills on offer. Colonel Richard Kemp voiced worries that it not only attracts the wrong kind of recruits but also sends the message of weakness.

Army veteran Pete Dawson, sympathises with colonel Kemp, commenting that army advertisements have always been far from the reality of training and war. In an interview he drew concern that at 59 he could still complete the basic army fitness test making him believe they have dropped their standards.

‘it’s about fighting and winning wars and if you think you can’t do that without bringing in a kit bag full of emotional baggage or concerns about who you are as a person, the Army isn’t the job for you.’

 

Parking Costs in Edinburgh city centre to increase after new year

Edinburgh drivers face an increase in parking costs as Sunday parking charges come into force next year.

Sunday afternoons will no longer have free parking on Edinburgh’s streets. Charges to park your car in the city centre will be put into place in early 2018.

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Permit holders are set to face an increase in charges. Photograph: Edinburgh Greens Flickr

Parking permit prices will also be increasing in city centre zones. The West End, the Old and New Towns and Fountainbridge areas are among those affected.

Although there is no exact figure stating how much parking permits will increase by, there will be an extra charge in order to fund the measures needed to control Sunday parking.

Local residents already face charges up to £475 under the current rates, leaving some unhappy about the idea of an extra cost.

Natasha Haggo, a permit holder in the city, said: “They’re already about £200, so it is quite expensive, and you’re not even guaranteed a space all the time.”

Parking in the city is a problem faced by most Edinburgh drivers;  and traffic has become a safety hazard for pedestrians, prompting 20 miles per hour speed limits to be put in place across the Capital.

Edinburgh City Council’s Transport Councillor, Lesley Macinnes, believes the parking restrictions that will be enforced will help keep the city less congested.

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The Tollcross area will be one of the places affected by the new charges. Photograph: Kim Traynor

She said: “As a major European city, we are committed to keeping the Capital moving, while maintaining safety and accessibility for all road users.

“Parking restrictions benefit businesses and residents by deterring all-day parking and encouraging the frequent turnaround of spaces for visitors and shoppers.

“They also maintain visibility and space for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers and open the road for larger vehicles, such as buses and lorries, as well as keeping it clear for the emergency services.”


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