The Lonely Piper
17-18 May 2008
55 Perth Road, Dundee
The Exploited ( 2007), The Lonely Piper
Companion Piece was a two-day exhibition in a shop in the West End of Dundee. I wanted to take advantage of this recently vacated premises to showcase the work of three Dundee-based artists and draw attention to other interesting local projects, at a time when the area has one of its biggest art audiences, prompted by the Dundee Degree Show. These artists have all, in their own way, made significant contributions to the art scene in the area over many years .
The shop, previously used for over a decade by a printing company, still retains original features such as wooden paneling and was partially divided with a small kitchen and toilet to the rear of the building. The work was embedded into the weary fabric of the stripped out shop with a minimum of imported display materials imposed on the space.
Val Norris’s drawings hold both the boldness and delicacy of a daydream. They articulate passing and heartfelt private thoughts unrestrained by grown up convention. For example, ‘I just knew I would see a rainbow’( 2008), features a motif of an eye with what appears to be the lines of sight dynamically spanning out across the pale pink page towards a limp net ribbon bow. Displayed on an existing shelf was ‘Touch Me Tiger’( 2007), the magazine pubication made for Andrew MacLean’s project ‘Nostalgic Erotiques’. In this, Norris draws cutsey animals performing on-the-button social satire but the storyboards never come across as knowingly clever. Truly embracing the character of the shop the artist exhibited her largest floral arrangement sculpture in the tiny verdigris-piped lavatory on top of a broken mirror left by the previous occupants. Norris’s drawings, comics and sculptures are united in representing the split second of boundless optimism when it is possible to believe in pure beauty or have total conviction in an obscene utterance.
Claire Todd’s 8 mm films converted to digital video show moments of slow contemplation. In ‘Jawfish’ (2008), the figure persists in attempting to gently bind the willow branches with his trailing blue tail while his very form is dissolved by the moving pattern of the swinging boughs engulfing him. Her film ‘Fix to Full’ (2005), presents several moments of review and observation some directly related to a project with psychiatric patients leaving a ward due to a hospital move; hand printed wallpaper annotated with handwritten text, seals contented within a drained pool and the view out of institutional ward windows. This piece was projected low to the ground under a wall-mounted cabinet in the quiet back kitchen area.
The Lonely Piper ‘s collage work ‘Frozen Waterfall Traversed’ (2006), is a beautiful vista of salmon leaping through the Scottish summits spawning. There is something about it and his other collages which make me think of skewed Scots Magazine or Readers Digest illustrations, articulating the myths we can’t quite forget or dismiss. The Lonely Piper’s video, ‘The Exploited’ was projected onto the slightly open door of the fuse box, allowing it to be visible both to passers by and to visitors inside. It shows a lone lookout punk salmon who ruins the day of a companionable seagull. This film, produced in 2007, is part of Digital VD, a DVD publication featuring 60 artists’ work curated by Edward Summerton, Moira Scott Payne and Michael Windle which was available in the gallery and can be viewed on their website: http://www.porty.net/digitalvd/
Also available during the show was the latest edition of Dundee’s own quarterly artzine ‘Yuck ‘n Yum’. Support from the Dundee Visual Artists Award scheme has secured a year’s worth of editions for its creator Andrew MacLean. Its website has the publication to download in PDF format and a new forum facility.
With thanks to the artists and also Graham and Sibbald / Westport Properties for the use of the shop space and to Jenny Brownrigg and Danny Hill for their support.