Tender Scene: Group Show (3 stars)


The Changing Room, Stirling, until 11 Aug

Maybe it's the red and white gaffer-taped maze of scaffolding in the Victorian shopping arcade that you have to weave in and out of on your way to The Changing Room, but there's a slightly kooky helter-skelter sense of freak show funhouse at group exhibition Tender Scene - albeit in a rather cleverly understated way, if that is, of course, possible. The first piece you meet once you climb up the stairs to the gallery is one of Alex Pollard's fantastical black paintings, a surreal gothic dreamscape made up of distorted cosmetics. Gregor Wright's sculpture sitting in the middle of the gallery soon grabs your attention, and switches Pollard's delicate inkiness with a strangely cartoonish sculpture made of wood and Styrofoam - random limbs seemingly pushing their way out of their confines.

In the back gallery, you have to walk across an optically illusive black and white striped floor in order to see Clare Stephenson's drawings of 'existential drag queens' that look as if they have been torn from the pages of a 19th century pantomime playbill. And across from them is a second painting by Pollard, dramatically set against a bright red wall. The third of his paintings, entitled 'Jester', and against a quickening skein of tiny black and white zigzags, gives a real sense of dark sideshow revelry. Finally, Fiona Jardine's photographs sit quietly in the corner, but are also the most ominous. Her two arcane figures in cultish garb draw you in, and you know you shouldn't look, but you just can't help yourself.

(Claire Mitchell)

Tender Scene

  • 3 stars

There's a slightly kooky helter-skelter sense of freak show or funhouse at this group exhibition by four Glasgow-based artists: Fiona Jardine, Clare Stephenson, Gregor Wright and Alex Pollard, who also curates the exhibition and represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2005.

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