What We Have Done, What We Are About to Do
- Neil Cooper
- 11 September 2012
A review of the CCA's Third Eye retrospective
Anyone who ever visited the wonderland that was the Third Eye Centre will know that, pre-Transmission/Tramway/Arches/Kinning Park/Summerhall, this holistic, slightly ramshackle Sauchiehall Street hub was pretty much the only avant-fun in town. Before it morphed into the CCA, the Third Eye's multi-purpose art-space, studio theatre, vegetarian restaurant and the best bookshop on the planet was a boho nirvana for seekers of artistic enlightenment.
Much of the Third Eye's early spirit was down to the enabling energies of the late Tom McGrath, the Rutherglen-born playwright, poet, pianist, polymath, former editor of counter-cultural bibles Peace News and International Times, and the Third Eye's first director between 1974 and 1977. This first public sighting of an ongoing excavation of the Third Eye archive as part of the Glasgow School of Art Arts and Humanities Research Council research project on Glasgow's hidden cultural history since the 1970s in partnership with the CCA is culled from McGrath's early dabblings with a video camera.
More than a hundred unedited tapes reveal the Third Eye as a vital cell of counter-cultural activity, with appearances from poets Allen Ginsberg and Adrian Mitchell, sound poet Bob Cobbing, jazz improvisers Keith Tippett and Derek Bailey, artist Michael Craig-Martin and a host of others. At a time when high-quality mobile phone footage can be filmed and uploaded online within minutes, it's a crucial glimpse at how things were before the 1980s centres of excellence approach to arts venues took hold. With the CCA itself championing latter-day purveyors of social and artistic self-determination, it's also a major first step in reclaiming its radical roots.
CCA, Glasgow until Sat 15 Sep.