Recent articles

Selected links to published articles:

2020

26 Nov 2020, ArtReview, Opinion: Disabled People Can’t Afford to Be Artists – the System Needs to Change
“We’ve exhausted a lot of nice strategies – there’s nothing left but just telling the truth about what it’s like to be a disabled artist.” Edinburgh-based writer and performer Harry Josephine Giles is angry and determined; angry about the way those with disabilities are so often shut out of the contemporary artworld, and determined that something is done about it. Read on

04 Nov 2020, SCAN, Feature: Hardship fund for Creative Freelancers: how do we continue to support Scotland’s rich visual arts ecology?
‘The need is greater now. People have used up their savings and no new work has arrived.’ Artist Jacqueline Donachie is unsurprised by the flood of applications to Creative Scotland’s Creative Freelancers’ Hardship Fund, which took just a couple of hours for requests of support to reach 60% of its total budget when it opened on 26 October. Read on

14 Sep 2020, Frieze, Reviews: Ghosts in the Machine: Six Artists Respond to Glasgow’s Shifting Soundscapes
‘Where are we?’ It’s a question, an imploring wail, repeated for 12 of the 18 minutes that make up Sulaïman Majali’s strange winds (2020), one of seven audio pieces commissioned by The Common Guild for its online lockdown project ‘In the Open’. Conceived as a response to the social impact of COVID-19, ‘In the Open’ includes contributions from six Glasgow-based artists, including the Turner Prize-nominated filmmaker Luke Fowler whose documentary portraits bookend the series. Read on

11 Sep 2020, Medium blog: How to Write a Review That People Will Want to Read
It’s never great to be told your views aren’t important, but that’s pretty much what my first reviews editor told me — even before I’d filed any copy. It was my big break as a gig reviewer on a local newspaper, way back in the 1990s when that still meant a huge readership; readers I was keen to dazzle with my views on what was cool and what wasn’t on the local music scene. Read on

10 Sep 2020, Sculpture Magazine, Review: Allan Kaprow Series at Jupiter Artland
“The point is to make something new. Something that doesn’t even remotely remind you of culture.” Recorded in 1966, Allan Kaprow’s lecture “How to Make a Happening” was a manifesto for art that blurs with and crashes into daily life—art that is, as he put it, “best when it’s artless.” Read on

26 Aug 2020, Frieze, Opinion: Why Tate Staff Are On Strike
After five days of industrial action that has attracted the support of Turner Prize-winning artists, arts educators and the former leader of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, employees of Tate Commerce (part of Tate Enterprises Ltd) are on indefinite strike. It follows the announcement earlier this month that 313 jobs – nearly half of TEL’s total staff – are to be lost across Tate’s retail, restaurant and publishing divisions. Read on

10 Aug 2020, SCAN, Feature: After the Lockdown: The Challenges and Possibilities of Reopening
‘I remember thinking, at the start of lockdown, how on earth am I qualified to lead an organisation through a global pandemic? Then I realised, of course, that no-one is – the logistics of it are enormous, but there’s not a single organisation that isn’t going through the same thing.’ Beth Bate, director of DCA sounds excited, daunted, energised – and possibly exhausted, too – all at the same time. Read on

17 July 2020, ArtReview, Opinion: The End of Creativity? What the UK’s New Immigration Regime Will Do to the Artworld As the world continues to be battered by a pandemic that respects no borders and shows little sign of abating, the UK government has been sharing more about its post-Brexit, points-based immigration regime. That this feels incongruous, a distraction, is an understatement, but the consequences of the new approach, which will come into effect on 1 January 2021 following the end of free movement for EU citizens, will be real and immediate. Read on

20 May 2020, Sculpture Magazine, Reviews: A New Look at Carol Bove
Reading Unfold This Moment, the Berlin-based critic Martin Herbert’s compact history of Carol Bove’s two-decade career, it struck me that I’ve seen a lot more of Bove’s work first-hand than I’d perhaps realized. Read on

13 May 2020, Frieze, Opinion: How Will UK Cinemas Survive the Lockdown?
‘I still think there will be cinema – nothing can replace the live experience,’ Institute of Contemporary Arts director, Stefan Kalmár, tells me. We are speaking about the nature of film screenings in a post-lockdown UK and how this might change the ICA’s relationship with its audience – particularly with the recent and inevitable shift to online viewing. Read on 

8 April 2020, Sculpture Magazine, Reviews: Katie Paterson, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Modern One, Edinburgh
Scottish artist Katie Paterson has described time as the “material” with which she creates her work. In this modest but significant survey – her first major exhibition in a public institution in Scotland – her playful, rigorously researched works tick with the passing of millennia as stars die, solar eclipses pass, and planets spin. Read on

24 March 2020, Frieze, Opinion: A Desperate Time: How the UK Art World is Responding to the Coronavirus Lockdown
Covid-19 may have forced galleries to close their doors but there is no shortage of frenetic, urgent action in the UK art world as it deals with the impact of social distancing. Things are moving fast, and they need to: this is a crisis that is threatening everyone – from the individual, self-employed artist trying to work out where the next paid work is coming from, to the arts organization CEO whose income streams have shrunk to zero overnight. Read on

17 March 2020, Frieze, Opinion: ‘Perverse Situation’: How the UK’s New Immigration Rules Will Hit the Art World
‘Huge step backward’, ‘perverse situation’, ‘negative effect’: responses from artists and curators are filled with a combination of despair and gritted-teeth anger, as the art world tries to gauge the impact of the UK Government’s recent policy statement on a new points-based immigration system, to be implemented from January 2021. Read on

March 2020, Engage Journal: Step Change: Coventry’s Social Biennial 
Can a biennial of contemporary art support and nurture the marginalised and neglected in its local community? And if so, should this be a defining characteristic of such events? For the Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art, the answer would seem to be an unequivocal ‘yes’ on both counts. Read on

29 January 2020, Frieze, Opinion: Why We Must Save Derek Jarman’s Cottage
Derek Jarman knew exactly what he wanted when he bought a former fisherman’s house on the windswept shingle beach at Dungeness on the southern tip of Kent, its near neighbour a looming grey nuclear power station. ‘The bleakness of Prospect Cottage was what had made me fall in love with it…’ Read on

2019

12 Dec 2019, Art Agenda, Reviews: Basma Alsharif’s A Philistine
An ever-spiraling conflict, a splintered diasporic identity, the subjectivity of experience, the psychology of displacement: in the work of the Palestinian artist Basma Alsharif this heavy load is unpacked and sifted, as history and geography are questioned and clichés resisted. Read on

04 Dec 2019, Frieze, Reviews: Jasmina Cibic
Cultural expediency, statecraft, the illusory nature of national identity – it’s all there in Jasmina Cibic’s ‘The Pleasure of Expense’, an exhibition exploring the complex entanglements of art, architecture and political ideology. Read on

Oct 2019, Essay for Edinburgh Art Festival: Platform 2019 exhibiton
Sculptures made from upholstery foam, gnome-like non-humans living on a landfill site, Kate Bush videos re-enacted by a fanboy – the works in this year’s Edinburgh Art Festival Platform exhibition are diverse, playful and never short of ideas. Featuring four artists, this showcase for early-career Scotland-based practitioners is selected by open call and there’s no stated theme beyond the ‘emerging’ status of its participants. There are, though, connections to be made between the work of Anna Danielewicz, Joanne Dawson, Harry Maberly and Suds McKenna… Read on

18 Sep 2019, Frieze, Opinion: Art Education Is in Crisis: Can We Stop Culture Becoming the Preserve of the Privileged?
‘Art is dropping off the curriculum in a lot of schools. Part of what we’re doing is giving young people what they can’t get any more.’ Open School East (OSE) director and co-founder Anna Colin is in full, enthusiastic flow as she prepares for the launch of the Margate-based organization’s Young Associates Programme, aimed at local young people aged 16 to 18. Read on

30 Aug 2019, ArtsProfessional, News: Strike begins at Science Museum Group
Science Museum Group (SMG) staff are holding 24-hour strike action today following the rejection earlier this year of a pay settlement that offered most staff a below-inflation rise of 1.5%. The Prospect union says that due to a series of below-inflation pay rises, workers have effectively had a 13% real terms pay cut since 2010. Read on

23 Aug 2019, Frieze, Opinion: Does the Art World Have a Problem with Disabled People?
Do the visual arts in the UK have a problem with disability? The recent experience of wheelchair user Ciara O’Connor during her visit to Tate Modern’s current Olafur Eliasson exhibition would seem to suggest so. Appalled by the lack of a simple access ramp in the place of the two steps required to enter Eliasson’s 2002 work Your Spiral View, her eloquently angry Twitter thread on the subject has been retweeted over 2,000 times. It includes a defiant cry for change: ‘I want a fucking ramp. I want elevators. I want wide doorways […] I don’t want to ask permission.’ Read on

16 Aug 2019, Frieze, Opinion: ‘It’s Catastrophic’ – How the UK’s Immigration Demands Hurt the Art World
‘It’s catastrophic.’ Claudia Zeiske, founding director of arts organization Deveron Projects in Huntly, Scotland, is in no mood for tip-toeing around the issues. She believes the UK visa application system is overwhelmingly bureaucratic, often racist and troublingly lacking in transparency. Read on

24 July 2019, Sculpture Magazine, Reviews: Monika Sosnowska at The Modern Institute, Glasgow
There’s a visual contradiction at the heart of Monika Sosnowska’s new series of sculptures. Her mangled steel structures are precisely arranged, hanging on the walls, dangling from the ceiling, and resting imposingly on the concrete floor; they also exude newness with their pristine coats of black paint. Contorted and stressed, these damaged architectural forms appear perfect in their imperfection. Read on

02 July 2019, Frieze, Opinion: How the Art World Can Fight a ‘Culture of Censorship’
Do arts organizations and artists in the UK need support to deal with issues of censorship? A new initiative from the London-based nonprofit Index on Censorship, which ‘campaigns for and defends free expression worldwide’, suggests just that. The recently launched Arts Censorship Support Service is, says Index CEO Jodie Ginsberg, responding to a climate of polarized political views and trial by social media, concerns about the UK government’s anti-extremism Prevent strategy, and worries over the Online Harms White Paper with its catch-all approach to online safety. ‘It’s about a culture of censorship and about giving confidence. So the message I want to give is for artists and organizations to feel confident, to feel supported.’ Read on

18 June 2019, Sculpture Magazine, Reviews: Martin Boyce at Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute
To get to Martin Boyce’s new outdoor commission in the landscaped grounds of Mount Stuart, you have to walk down a long, straight pathway from the 19th-century, neo-Gothic mansion. Surrounded by mature trees and well-established plantings, his tennis court-style installation sits in a clearing just off the path—a newly created rectangular patch of gravel surrounded by specially fabricated chain link fencing. Four white, perforated steel “lanterns” and a moon-like disk in the same metal hang above the space from brackets attached to wooden telegraph poles. Two doors on the near side and far end of the perimeter fence stand wide open, beckoning us to enter; industrial “debris netting” hangs curtain-like to the side of each entrance. Read on

13 June 2019, Frieze, Opinion: Is This the Future of the Art School?
‘I proposed the gallery as a live lab for the university, somewhere we can test out ideas, a safe place where people can connect and meet.’ Laura Sillars, director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), is explaining how she pitched her idea for Teesside University’s new MIMA School of Art. Officially launched last month following its announcement earlier this year, the school is the new home for the university’s BA, MA and PhD fine art students (a total of 101 for 2018-19), previously part of the School of Computing, Media & the Arts. And while, at first, the move might sound like a clever bit of rebranding, capitalizing on the university-run gallery’s profile and international connections to draw in more students, it’s also a genuinely disruptive step. Read on

11 June 2019, ArtsProfessional, News: Stables faces new threat as developer circumvents noise ruling
An arts venue in Milton Keynes is facing a renewed threat from a nearby housing development just months after a decision by the council’s planning department had appeared to resolve the situationMusic venue The Stables has said that a new planning application by Abbey Homes presents “a real threat” to its future. The developer wants to build 79 houses on a section of a site it owns to the west of the centre. The venue, which hosts over 350 concerts a year, was founded in 1970 by Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine. Read on

07 June 2019, Frieze, Opinion: How a Google Spreadsheet Broke the Art World’s Culture of Silence
There’s one entry on ‘Art/Museum Salary Transparency 2019’ – the Google Spreadsheet currently turning heads in the art world – that stands out from all the other anonymous respondents, which at the time of writing totals nearly 2,000. Listed as associate curator at MoMA PS1, it features a starting salary of US$90,000, but under the column headed ‘current salary’ there is no figure. Instead it says: ‘Never started – job offer illegally rescinded.’ Anyone who follows these things is likely to make a connection to the 2017 case of Nikki Columbus and the job she thought she had, but then didn’t after telling her future employer she’d just had a baby. It’s a story of alleged institutional discrimination that seems to starkly sum up the impetus behind this initiative. Read on

31 May 2019, Frieze, Reviews: Raw Nerves: How Cate Le Bon’s New Album Chips Away at Musical Expectations
Nearing the end of ‘Mother’s Mother’s Magazines’, a track from Cate Le Bon’s new solo album,Reward, a faint buzz gradually comes to the fore, rising up through the layers of percussion, saxophone and twanging guitar. At first it seems as if the source is electric; the result, perhaps, of a loose amp jack generating unwanted interference. Soon, though, it becomes apparent that what we’re hearing is the sound of a franticly buzzing wasp or bee. It’s a small jolt, a quirky interlude that provides an apt metaphor for Le Bon’s musical approach as a whole. This is unconventional pop that carries a sting; it can unsettle as much as it beguiles. Read on

24 May 2019, ArtsProfessional, News: Peers slam Government for ignoring post-Brexit visa recommendations
Peers from across the political spectrum have criticised the Government for failing to respond to recommendations designed to ensure freedom of movement for cultural workers after Brexit. In a House of Lords debate last week, Crossbench peer Lord Jay of Ewelme said the Government had ignored two key recommendations made in a report published last July by the Lords European Union (EU) Committee, on which Jay sits. Read on

04 May 2019, Frieze, Opinion: Turner Prize Controversy: This Year, It’s the Sponsor, Not the Artists
The Turner Prize, controversial? It says something about changing attitudes to arts funding, rather than contemporary art itself, that it’s the host venue’s choice of sponsor not the exceptionally strong shortlist that has been causing controversy this year. Read on

12 April 2019, Frieze, Opinion: Art World ‘Freelancers’ Are Being Exploited – 27 National Gallery Workers Fought Back
Art historian Richard Stemp is delighted to be classed as a ‘worker’ rather than freelancer. One of 27 former National Gallery educators who took their case to an employment tribunal and won, he expects February’s ruling to have a ripple effect in the cultural sector. Read on

04 April 2019, SCAN report: Reflections on Summit 2019
The recent SCAN Summit at Glasgow Women’s Library was a chance to think hard about the world and the progressive role that art, artists and visual arts organisations can play in it. Its title, ‘Unsettled Status’, could hardly have been more appropriate, summing up the mood of many of us as we grapple with a contemporary moment defined by its unpleasantly slippery character. Read on

29 March 2019, Frieze, Opinion: Nan Goldin on Why the Art World Must Shun Sackler Money
‘I don’t know how many righteous philanthropists there are, but some are darker than others.’ Artist and anti-opioid activist Nan Goldin is reflecting on the nature of arts philanthropy in a week that has given her a lot to think about and plenty to celebrate… Read on

07 March 2019, Frieze, Opinion: ‘Work That Is Useful and Work That Is Modest’: Artists in Glasgow Film Festival Aspire to a Different Kind of Cinema
Teeming with found footage, from the Marx Brothers to Soviet era propaganda films, Thom Andersen’s feature-length The Thoughts That Once We Had (2015) is both a critique of Hollywood and a celebration of the possibilities of the form…  Read on

06 March 2019, Frieze, Reviews: Words Without Language: A Pas de Deux Between Artist Emmie McLuskey and Choreographer Rudolf Laban
Language, learning and movement are explored in Glasgow-based artist Emmie McLuskey’s latest installation, ‘these were the things that made the step familiar’, which draws on the theories of dancer and choreographer Rudolf Laban… Read on

20 Feb 2019, Frieze, Ghassan Halwani’s First Feature is a Filmic Memorial to Lebanon’s Disappeared
Is it possible for the disappeared to disappear twice? To be literally snatched from view and then erased from the collective memory? Beirut artist and filmmaker Ghassan Halwani addresses just that prospect in his debut feature, Erased,___ Ascent of the Invisible (2018) … Read on

08 Feb 2019, Art Agenda, Reviews: Cécile B. Evans’s “Amos’ World”
In the world of self-regarding architect Amos, there’s really only one thing that matters—Amos. There he is, sensibly chic in a black roll-neck sweater and neat gray trousers: “I want to build something important. I want to change the world. I want to express myself.” … Read on

07 Feb 2019, Frieze, Why Artists are Struggling to Make a Living From Their Art (and the Activists Fighting Back)
Making a living as an artist is impossible for all but a few high-profile practitioners, and the lack of sufficient financial remuneration for artistic labour is the dark reality at the heart of the contemporary art world. If that sounds like hyperbole, perhaps the recent Twitter thoughts of London-based Tai Shani are worth considering… Read on

17 Jan 2019, Frieze, The Creative Resistance of Czech Screenwriter and Costume Designer Ester Krumbachová
Where to start with this brilliantly busy exhibition? Perhaps firstly to say that, while Czech screenwriter and costume designer Ester Krumbachová’s name is in the title, this key figure of 1960s Czech new wave cinema, who died in 1996, is not the only artist featured… Read on

15 Jan 2019, SCAN report: ‘Japan: Reflections on the Archipelago’
Perhaps more so than at any point for a generation, the importance of cross-cultural conversations and international dialogue is uppermost in the minds of many artists, curators and other creative practitioners. Brexit, Trump, the refugee crisis – the need for art to make connections and inspire collaboration rather than competition is urgent and real… Read on

2018

hero-margaret-tait-and-peter-hollander-perugia-1952.-courtesy-of-the-margaret-tait-estate-and-orkney-library-and-archive

18 Dec 2018, Frieze, The Highs and Lows of Scotland’s Year in Art 2018

30 Nov 2018, Frieze, Rabiya Choudhry’s Paintings Reveal What’s on the Inside

23 Nov 2018, Frieze, With Collective Gallery Reopening at Edinburgh’s City Observatory, Can Contemporary Art and Heritage Be Combined?

21 Nov 2018, Art & Education, Writing as a Visible Practice: An Interview With Maria Fusco

19 Nov 208, Frieze, Margaret Tait’s Beguiling Films Show a Dogged Commitment to the Act of Looking

17 Oct 2018, Frieze, Where’s the Money in the UK Government’s Museums Action Plan?

08 Oct 2018, Frieze, Art in Schools Faces Extinction: How Can We Fix the Crisis?

04 Oct 2018, a-n News, Frieze London 2018 review: bleak humour, female pioneers and more diversity

16 Aug 2018, Frieze, Why the Art World Needs to Stand Up to the UK’s ‘Humiliating’ Immigration Demands

janice_kerbel_sink_

15 Aug 2018, Frieze, Review: Janice Kerbel Dives Into The Surreal Art Of Synchronized Swimming

17 July 2018, Frieze, Glasgow After the Fire: What Has Been the Impact on the Wider Arts Community?

18 June 2018, a-n News, Glasgow School of Art Fire: a Tragedy That Demands Answers

08 June 2018, Frieze, Review: ‘An Undercurrent of Familial Warmth and Humour’: Around the Whitstable Biennale 2018

25 May 2018, a-n News, A Q&A With… Simone Rowat, Forensic Architecture

21 May 2018, a-n News, International Report: Printemps De L’Art Contemporain 2018 festival, Marseille

07 May 2018, Frieze, Review: Corin Sworn’s Illusion of Order

18 April 2018, Frieze, Critic’s Guide: As Glasgow International Opens, Your Guide to The Best Shows to See Across Town

11 April 2018, a-n News, A Q&A With… Richard Parry, Glasgow International Director

12 Mar 2018, Frieze, Review: Highlights From The Glasgow Film Festival 2018

28 Feb 2018, Frieze, Artist Profile: Alberta Whittle’s Decolonizing Impulse

05 Feb 2018, Frieze, Why Did Creative Scotland Defund Storied Glasgow Art Gallery Transmission?

2017

19 Dec 2017, Frieze, Review: Luke Fowler and Sue Tompkins

20 Nov 2017, Frieze, Review: Jonathan Baldock and Emma Hart

23 Oct 2017, a-n News, Art and Architecture: the Smithsons – Their Legacy and Ideas Explored

05 Oct 2017, a-n News, Frieze London 2017 Review: Unmissable Works in Uncertain Times

25 Sep 2017, Frieze, Review: Sara Barker, The Faces of Older Images

31 July 2017, Art & Education, Out of the Ordinary: Learning in Public at Open School East

19 Jul 2017, Frieze, Review: Manchester International Festival 2017

05 July 2017, a-n News, A Q&A with… Emma Hart, Artist With an Eye on the Domestic

11 April 2017, Art & Education, The Syllabus: A Peer-Led, Non-Prescriptive Postgraduate Alternative

07 Mar 2017, Frieze, Review: Claire Barclay, Yield Point

2016

23 Nov 2016, Frieze, Review: Zofia Kulik at Glasgow Sculpture Studios

21 Nov 2016, Art & Education, Practice Makes Perfect: The MFA at Glasgow School of Art

27 Oct 2016, Frieze, Disbelief, Sadness, Anger: Edinburgh’s Inverleith House gallery closes

14 Sep 2016, Frieze, Live Review: Simon Starling at Holmwood House, Glasgow

06 Apr 2016, Frieze, Art Brut: Brutalism and its Influence on Artists

10 Feb 2016, Frieze, Live Review: Ulla Von Brandenburg’s Sink Down Mountain, Rise Up Valley

2015

21 Oct 2015, Frieze, Review: The Shock of Victory at CCA, Glasgow

30 Sept 2015, a-n News: Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival: awkward, engaging and on the edge

Aug 19 2015, The Guardian, Party On! Chilcot Enquiry Inspires The UK’s Newest Festival 

8 Jul 2015, Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, Real Worlds, Virtual Realities

23 Jun 2015, Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, No Hidden Extras: Bristol Museums & Aardman Animations’ Hidden Museum app

12 Mar 2015, Frieze, Review: Till The Stars Turn Cold at Glasgow Sculpture Studios

2014

15 Dec 2014, Frieze, Hardeep Pandhal at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester

30 Jun 2014, Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, Never Blending In: a profile of Jon Rogers

2013

04 Nov 2013, Frieze, Nicolas Party: Strange Fruits

Sep 11 2013, Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, A Riot of Possibilities: Augmented Reality at Nottingham City Museums and Art Galleries

26 Jul 2013, The Guardian, Art and science: ‘different ways of engaging with what matters’

15 Jun 2013, Frieze, Review: Nicolas Party at The Modern Institute, Glasgow

17 May 2013, Frieze, Review: ECONOMY at CCA, Glasgow & Stills, Edinburgh

2012

01 Nov 2012, Frieze, Review: Niall Macdonald at Tramway, Glasgow

01 Sep 2012, Frieze, Review: Kilian Rüthemann & Kate V. Robertson at David Dale Gallery, Glasgow