Edwyn Collins: Wildlife 1
Pop star Edwyn Collins’ life-threatening stroke has been well documented. This project, which deliberates obsessively on his relationship with the subject matter – animals and birds – is a metaphorical ‘safari’ illustrating his return to health. The drawings themselves are skilfully made which belies the difficulties associated with re-learning to draw after such a destructive illness and echo back to Collins’ time as a draftsman and to his upbringing as the son of a fine art lecturer.
The drawings also represent Collins’ desire to revise and update the prints of Archibald Thorburn in Lord Lilford’s Coloured Figures of the Birds of the British Isles, first published in the late 19th century, which Collins imitates with simplicity and respect. The majority of the works are straightforward renditions, little exercises in seeing and recording, a daily routine to retrain eye, hand and mind, and demonstrate, through his tenacity, the complexity of physical movement which the majority of us take for granted. There are touches of humour, in his drawing of a penguin, of sensitivity in his collection of British birds, and more painful depictions of the animal kingdom as in his drawing of an octopus eating a dogfish. These ruminations on pain, humour and cruelty are ultimately the sensibilities Collins wishes to portray in coping with his sudden ill-health.
The difficulty this show faces is its venue, which normally houses more experimental projects, and its self-reflective, illustrative, traditional approach seems awkward in a space used to more emergent practices. In the end, though, the audience will find compassion in these images for a man, celebrity aside, who has gone from the brink to recovery through a combination of perseverance and determination.
Intermedia Gallery, CCA, Glasgow, until Sat 9 May