GSA Annual Staff Show - Christine Borland, Thomas Joshua Cooper and Peter McCaughy (3 stars)

GSA Annual Staff Show - Christine Borland, Thomas Joshua Cooper and Peter McCaughy


Glasgow School of Art, Mackintosh Gallery, Glasgow, until Mon 30 Oct


This slick little show continues the annual ‘outing’ of the talents of GSA staff members. The exhibition is pared down this year, which means that there is space to consider the objects, enough room to look for formal and narrative relationships without a curatorial team uncomfortably grouping everything beneath a shoddy thematic umbrella.

The work on show touches on ideas of time, place and the way that humanity binds and registers these abstract notions through the awareness of our mortality. McCaughy’s ‘Barr Work (Prelude)’ records the reunion of six family members returning to County Tyrone, Northern Ireland after sixty years of separation. The characters’ faces flicker with micro-emotions, through contentment to slight discomfort, thoughtfulness to confrontation. The figures appear to blink backwards, going back in time, as birds sing onwards in the eternal landscape behind them.

In Cooper’s work, ‘Out of Africa’, the viewer stands where the photographer once stood, looking out towards the sublime edges of oceans. Each of the large gelatin silver prints forces the viewer to feel and react, to be pulled into the inky blacks, get caught in the grey nets of cross tides or stand in an illusion of security on crisp representations of rocky outcrops. Borland’s seductive installation comprises hundreds of Limoges porcelain pieces as the broken, weathered and fired fragments of a skeleton. Eye-ball socket pots and broken ribs like teacup handles are washed up on a glass shelf - the human debris of a high tide in the corner of the gallery space.


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