John Byrne, Elizabeth Blackadder and Alasdair Gray contribute to Living Proof exhibition
The Darwin-inspired mixed media show uses animal subjects to reflect upon humanity
The title of this new group show is a direct reference to Charles Darwin’s voyage on the HMS Beagle in search of living specimens to support his theory of evolution. And there may also be a sense of evolution through the works on display, with a pan-generational host of Glasgow artists – including John Byrne, Elizabeth Blackadder and Alasdair Gray – being asked to contribute. The print works range from the humorous to the esoteric, with a broad range of styles and tones in between.
The brief for artists invited to contribute is that their work should deal with creatures of some sort, and that it should reflect those featured in the Menagerie sculpture exhibition held in the same venue back in 1990. ‘Why artists choose to include animals in their work is a mystery, other than a general human fascination with creatures,’ says John Mackechnie, the Glasgow Print Studio’s director. ‘Even going back to the earliest cave paintings, they were depicted, and nearly all people will at some time in their life keep pets. Watching television last week, I discovered that some animals do this too.’
He quotes Fiona Watson, one of the exhibiting artists, in an attempt to further understand why the subject might inspire an artist. ‘The use of animals in art allows us to reflect on who we are and who “they” are, she has said. As our culture becomes more urbanised and virtual, there is a need to explore the natural realm. After all, the animal represents our ancestral partner.’
Glasgow Print Studio, Glasgow, Fri 6 Dec–Sun 2 Feb.