The Glasgow Open House Festival aims to bring art and music to unusual spaces
Flats, gardens, sheds and community centres will serve as venues for art exhibitions and events
Some unlikely venues throughout Glasgow are inviting people in for a new art festival. Rachael Cloughton discovers an event that taps into the city’s DIY ethos
Glasgow Open House is unlocking the door to the private world of artists, creating a festival in intriguing and often inaccessible spaces around the city. Flats, gardens, sheds, community centres and even the Glasgow Theosophical Society will serve as venues for art exhibitions and events during the ten-day festival, which takes place at the same time as Glasgow International.
Initially the brainchild of a small group of Glasgow School of Art graduates, an open call resulted in a festival explosion: more than 70 artists are getting involved this year, exhibiting in 36 venues across the Southside, East End, West End and city centre.
The festival builds upon Glasgow’s existing culture of private exhibitions in tenement buildings. ‘These events tend to be experienced mainly by friends of the artist, or people involved in the scene,’ explains festival organiser Amalie Silvani-Jones. ‘Showing work to such a small audience of peers is fine, but by its nature is a little exclusive. At a time when so much is happening around the city we thought it was a great opportunity to bring this kind of exhibition to a wider audience.’
Hearing about Belfast’s annual art festival, Household, in which exhibitions are held in domestic spaces across the city, Silvani-Jones says she was ‘surprised we hadn’t thought about doing it before’, and so Glasgow Open House began to take shape. While Belfast’s festival may have been the inspiration, the organisers have positioned themselves as part of Glasgow’s rich DIY scene. ‘Artist-run spaces like The Pipe Factory and music and art events organisers such as 85A, The Mutual, Cry Parrot and Croc vs Croc have been doing exciting things,’ says Nick Thomas, another member of the team. ‘The hope is that Glasgow Open House will bring together some of the people involved in these various strands of DIY culture.’
Cry Parrot have invited Richard Youngs to perform in their living room for three nights, playing a different set to an intimate audience of 20 each time. Meanwhile, artists Kornelia Remø Klokk and Alisa Margot MacKenzie are scheduled to perform in the Theosophical Society’s building. ‘They will be inviting us into their strange and ritualistic world,’ says committee member Phoebe Barnicoat. ‘A world full of tall hats and hand-made sparkly costumes, with a soundtrack of haunting noises that remind me of a sci-fi Sunday service.’
Glasgow Open House is interested in projects that make use of alternative presentation formats. According to organiser Emma Ewan: ‘One of the festival’s main aims is to consider the way that art exists and is read, both inside and out with the conventional gallery space.’ Rather than the work’s content, it will be the context that pulls the diverse and wide-reaching art exhibited together.
The organisers hope that Glasgow Open House will become an annual event, providing a staple exhibition opportunity for creatives in the city. ‘Artists often rely on deadlines to drive them forward, much like the Edinburgh Fringe,’ explains Silvani-Jones. ‘We hope Glasgow Open House will be something for people to work towards.’
Glasgow Open House, Fri 11–Mon 21 Apr, glasgowopenhouse.co.uk