Interview: Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan

Artists talk about The Indirect Exchange of Uncertain Value exhibition

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The Indirect Exchange of Uncertain Value - Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan interview

Artists Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan talk to Paul Dale about their latest art intervention, which brings new works to the unlikely setting of Fettes College

It sounds like the (thankfully unpublished) wheezy plotlines to one of Anthony Buckeridge’s Jennings … adventures. Posh Edinburgh private school – one time cradle to dastardly turncoat bullies – gets taken over by bohemian artists with a hidden agenda. ‘Oh wizard Jennings!’

The Indirect Exchange of Uncertain Value is an art project that takes place in the capital’s most famous private school but that is really where the japes stop. It’s actually an inventive-sounding offsite festival art happening developed by long-time collaborative artists Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan and the Collective (Gallery). Tatham explains: ‘We often describe our works as events. Our work is the choreography of the elements that comprise this event – so for The Indirect Exchange of Uncertain Value we chose the context, Fettes College, and invited artists Chris Evans and Elizabeth Price to produce new works that would be presented within two large sculptural structures designed by ourselves. Visitors will have to book a tour and their experience of the project will be quite structured, and will include a short tour of some of the grounds.’

This contemporary art project grew out of conversations between Tatham and O’Sullivan and the Collective’s director Kate Gray about public spaces that are seemingly inaccessible. ‘Fettes College seemed to be one such space. It is an iconic landmark within the city – but it is a fee-paying school. We were also all interested in thinking about ideas of public art – and the idea of making a work funded by the (then) Scottish Arts Council Public Art fund in what is usually a private space seemed very interesting.’

For Tatham and O’Sullivan there has to be something organic about this ‘indirect exchange’: ‘We’re hoping some of these ideas will also come out in the Symposium that Collective is organising. The Symposium will include presentations by Vito Acconci, Tom Leonard, Fiona Jardine, and Owen Hatherley – as well as by the other artists presenting work within the project at Fettes. Evans will present an ongoing performance work titled “I don’t know if I’ve explained myself” in a classroom at Fettes College as part of the symposium.’ Pencils at the ready children.

The Indirect Exchange of Uncertain Value, Fettes College, 7–28 Aug, free, tickets from Fringe Box Office, 226 0000.

The Indirect Exchange of Uncertain Value

New public art, housed in the splendour of Fettes College, commissioned by the Collective Gallery from artists Joanne Tatham and Tom O'Sullivan and also featuring work by Chris Evans and Elizabeth Price. Booking is essential.

Symposium: The Indirect Exchange of Uncertain Value – The Performance of Public Art

Collective Gallery's festival symposium features speakers such as Vito Acconci, Fiona Jardine, Elizabeth Price and Owen Hatherley, a performance by Chris Evans and poetry from the great Tom Leonard.

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