Parliamo Glasgow?

Published

Jeni Allison

Perhaps it was just me, but this Christmas holidays seemed really long. Not in a sort of ‘Oh God, I’m so bored,’ kind of way, but in a sort of lovely, dragging out of nice activities, old friends and copious nights (and days) of drinking.  I do love going home, but on returning I am instantly reminded why I choose to study in Glasgow .

Glasgow is up for a good time; ‘you’ll have mere (more) fun at a Glasgow stabbing than an Edinburgh Wedding’ as the saying goes.  Genuinely one the best things I’ve seen this year was on the door of the Savoy Centre, which unfortunately was closed for the day.  Simply pinned up was a sheet of average A4 paper, on which had been crudely scrawled: ‘Shut Aw Day.’ And why not? Who needs a fancy well made ‘closed’ sign. I got the message; the Savoy Centre was shut. For how long? Aw day. Deal with it.

I am amused by phonetic spellings of words which are suggestive of a Glaswegian accent; just so you have my level. But if that’s your level too then GOMA’s current exhibition (and to be honest the first thing I’ve liked at GOMA in a long time) is for you.  Hertie Querty (Hertie – ‘fond of fun and merry,’ Querty – ‘in good spirits, full of fun and mischief’) is a sort of contemporary art funfair.  As with all funfairs there’s seedy undertones, attention-grabbing visuals and banter which treads precariously between jovial and threatening.

Not all the pieces are Glasgow-based, or even by Glasgow-bred artists, but there is a genuine feeling that a Glaswegian sensibility has played a part in the conception of most of the pieces, and indeed in their curation. George Wyllie’s’Tropicana Glasgow’ showcases the elements of Glasgow’s coat and arms, arranged totem-like on a palm tree. There are echos of Stanley Baxter’s 1970s mock ‘how to learn a language’ television show “Parliamo Glasgow.” The idea of Glasgow as a exotic, far off island might seem laughable (just have a look out your window at the weather), but Wyllie pitches this just right.

There are fourteen artists represented, nine of which studied at the Glasgow School of Art.  Arguably, David Shrigley’s contributions to Hertie Querty are the highlights. His crude commentary on human condition are poignant whilst bizarrely funny – one drawing depicts an overweight man lying  on the ground. ‘DRUNK AGAIN.’ is scrawled across the top in much the same manner as my beloved ‘closed aw day.’ ‘I”M NOT DRUNK, I”VE BEEN HARPOONED,’ comes the equally scrawled reply.

As irrelevant as I’m making this sound, the exhibition is a sort of treasure chest of important works, with a couple of Greyson Perry’s vases on show, and Roderick Buchanan’s Gobstopper which won the Beck’s Future’s Prize in 2000. This exhibition is full of ‘the banter,’ and has enough substance to give you your cultural fix that’ll last “aw day.”

Hertie Querty runs until May 3rd