Archived entries for Glasgow

momus in athens

The quasi-scottish pop-renegade, now based in Osaka, has been in Athens (the city that is ironically progenitor and stand-in, understudy, the stunt-single for Auld Greekie) and curious it is.

A parallel programme on R4 last week (at 13:20, Kate Adie introducing Malcolm Brabant in Athens) also identified this Greek stepping-stone to somewhere better, Frascati-Tiber or Blue Nun-Danube or London Botanicals, Hogarth-Thames. An eternal clearing-ground for the idealistic immigrant at the unter-face of east/west/home’s best. But the Lime becomes so very caustic, the further north-west you go.

And now the person himselves is appearing at a scottish art school near you, soon. Friday 18th, GSA, from 5:30pm. Be there or, just get on with your life, it won’t change anything – will it. Will it.

simple minds album cover / Parthenon imomus

hamilton echo

This is Hamilton Mausoleum, just south of Glasgow – It’s not quite “one of the grandest temples to the dead outside Egypt” – but what a noise (just the echo, not the canned soundeffect directly afterwards, well, obviously).

I kinda know the area casually, having worked at Motherwell district council in the early 90s, when Ravenscraig was being decommissioned – but have never been inside the Duke’s folly, across the main west-coast motorway, the M74, which divides the two towns.

There’s actually lots of good stuff to explore in the area despite its grim appearance – start here

And then of course you’re not too far away from this – um – place, either… East Kilbride

Thanks to daisysaint’s youtube channel for the video.

torphichen : culross : jerusalem

Torphichen Preceptory is not much to look at now, post-reformation, when pre-baroque catholic aesthetics were eschewed for righteous minimalist puritanism in 1554 – but it still carries a remarkable background signal. Visited on 2 Jan 2011 for Centrifuge photoshoot, it did feel completely back of beyond however. Looking at it in googlemaps though shows a less isolated position – Linlithgow, Falkirk and Queensferry/Dunfermline/Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth and thence Europe are not too far away at all.

Only two places in Rome’s Britain were allocated Knights Hospitaller status – Clerkenwell in London, the Clerkenwell of Zaha Hadid, Defoe, Dickens and Lenin fame : and here in B-road Torphichen. It is a significant and complex story stretching back to the earliest indications of Christianity in Scotland, over 1500 years ago. Anyways, it’s now utterly devoid of power, partnered instead with grotesquely banal 60s housing scheme aesthetic, like Culross – how the freak did they get away with it? The insensitivity and ignorance is deafening.

But as the 2001 WTC 10-year anniverary comes closer, it’s worth looking at what this conflict between the worlds’ three great western religions – Jew, Muslim and Christian – really means. This war has been going on far too long. Torphichen may be a footnote now but it connects deep. Jerusalem is why it’s here. And like all tall places, it must – and did – fall. This state always occurs through ideological dispute betwen two interconnected religions.

Who do you think is pulling Afghanistan apart? It’s not the British nor the US nor the NGO’s.

A short drive from Torphichen, across the Kincardine Bridge and the River Forth estuary, pall-shadowed by the belching behemoths of Grangemouth oil refinery and coal-fired Longannet power station, the once-rich villatown of Culross – Scotland’s Portmeirion – is less about ideology and more about entrepreneur, although the remarkable Culross Abbey dates to the 5th century and is homeland of Kentigern (St Mungo), son of Thenew, who begat the city of Glasgow, a hotbed of conflicting religious vices, oh yes. Europe is a short-ish boat trip away and that means trade, pure and simple – what a relief.

Below is a clip of the Hereford Mappa Mundi, centred on Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the root, Damascus the branch (other branches continue to bicker too, in rather more prosaic places like Coatbridge and Bathgate). Watch out for dangerous times in Torphichen’s source – well, actually, it was ever so…

images above : culross : 2 jan 2011

May Miles Thomas interview

Catch the extended version here (scroll to the bottom for the audio player) of the interview with multi-BAFTA award-winner May Miles Thomas, author and filmmaker of Glasgow’s The Devils Plantation, interviewed by BBC Scotland’s Shereen Nanjiani on 12 December 2010.

It covers both the genesis and making of the work and also some personal memories from May about growing up in Glasgow – including opening up a private bank account at the age of 5!

Essential listening for anyone with an interest in Glasgow, filmmaking and how the creative process is touched by personal experience. And don’t be fooled by May’s pleasant, lighthearted banter with Shereen – she is one sweetly-toughminded cookie… and one exceptional filmmaker.

Image from BBC Scotland : Shereen (L) with guest May Miles Thomas

susan philipsz – turner prize winner 2010

(repost from Oct 6 2010)
Prediction of course, but a strong contender. Yaaayyy! Congratuations to Susan Philipsz! If you’re not aware of her work have a look at the excellent A Song Cycle for the City of London

Berlin-based glaswegian Susan Philipsz’ work is about the memory of place evoked through soundscape – using her own voice, or maybe sound samples via vibraphone, she brings a fragmentary drift of the past into now. She’s used a range of cover sources for the voice – from traditional scottish and irish laments to strawberry switchblade, george a. romero and opera. The works are also grounded in literary and cultural allusions in context with each location. The methods of voicing are low key, allowing imagination to work with the effect.

The interesting part for me is the way soundscapes can alter perceptions of place, both city and hinterland, in ways unexpected from prosaic location – they become invocations, and are dangerous – a singing-up the dead (there’s the romero connection, then). They also bring these narratives embedded in place into the open, however.

Comparisons will be drawn with sound artist Janet Cardiff, of course. I think that shows this is still an emerging practice; for site-specific work, intimate broadcast soundscape in cityspace is still new. Everybody in scotland’s central belt will be familiar though with the bigger scale here, from respected public arts duo Dalziel + Scullion – the horn perhaps best categorised now as a brave failure.

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So 2010 has turned out to be a successful one for work with strong connections to psychogeography in the UK, with May Miles Thomas winning a BAFTA, Patrick Keiller’s much-anticipated new film and now Susan Philipsz winning the Turner prize.

image below from artangel



from Z to A is a scotland-based psychogeography and urban topography magazine featuring creative, critical, playful urban journeys

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