Preview: Once Upon a Time and a Very Good Time It Was

Ingleby's James Joyce-inspired group show makes connections across time and place

Once Upon a Time and a Very Good Time It Was

Borrowing its title from the first line of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, this group show incorporating most of the Ingleby’s represented or associated artists offers a new spin by pairing pieces by the likes of Peter Liversidge, Ian Hamilton Finlay and David Batchelor with certain on-loan antiquities and classic pieces from Africa, China and Oceania. ‘The title seemed like a good place to start for what will be a diverse, encyclopaedic sort of show,’ says the gallery’s owner, Richard Ingleby. ‘In tone and spirit it will be a little like the very beautiful Abstraction show we made ten years ago when the gallery was at Carlton Terrace, which was necessarily constricted by the available space.’

This time, the gallery space will allow for increased ambition of scale. ‘The idea is to make connections between objects across time and place, but not in a prescriptive or literal way,’ says Ingleby. ‘For example, what links a tiny Anatolian idol from the 3rd century BC with a small painting by Sean Scully? Ostensibly nothing: one is figurative, one abstract; one is 4500 years old, one is new; one is made of stone, one is paint on canvas … and yet when you put them together, something chimes.

‘Both have a presence that confronts the viewer,’ he continues, ‘a certainty in their own existence, and yet for all their apparent strength they each suggest a kind of unexpected intimacy. It will be a very subjective exhibition – what makes sense to one eye may bewilder another – but crucially all the elements will be intriguing things worth looking at and thinking about.’

Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, Fri 29 Nov until Sat 22 Feb 2014.

Once Upon a Time and a Very Good Time It Was …

Taking its title from James Joyce's modernist novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, this exhibition features works from David Austen, David Batchelor, Howard Hodgkin, James Hugonin, Sean Scully and Alison Watt, as well as selected objects from antiquity and beyond.


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