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Adoption scheme seeks loving homes for Scottish Contemporary Sculpture
Nick Evans with his stored sculptures and in his studio at Grey Wolf Studios, Glasgow. Photos by Kate V Robertson.

GLASGOW.- Scottish contemporary artists have welcomed an adoption scheme aimed at recovering sculpture that’s languishing in storage so it can be enjoyed by the public.

Sculpture Placement Group (SPG) is giving educational and health organisations, art institutions, charities, housing associations and others the chance to show high-quality works, many of which were commissioned for exhibitions at leading galleries.

The scheme will be piloted at the group’s Sculpture Showroom exhibition which is part of Glasgow International 2018, 20 April to 7 May, and takes place at Glasgow Sculpture Studio. A selection of works in search of new guardians will be on display and others will feature in a catalogue currently being compiled by SPG.

Kate V Robertson, one of the three curators and artists behind the project, said: “All over the country there are superb sculptures by respected artists that are hidden away and have no clear future when they could be seen and enjoyed by new and wider audiences.

“The art market puts a lot of emphasis on new work by sculptors with little provision for what happens to pieces after an exhibition is over. Some is destroyed but the artists put much of it into long-term storage. We’ve been talking to artists about whether they would like to give new life to some of their work by offering it for adoption and the response has been great, loads of enthusiasm.”

The three SPG founders, who include curators Michelle Emery-Barker and Martin Craig, were partly inspired by the success of the 2014 Reclaimed – the second life of sculpture exhibition they helped create at the Briggait, in Glasgow. This highlighted the plight of Spirit of Kentigern (popularly known as The Whale’s Tail) which originally had its home in Buchanan Street but ended up in a field. In 2017 Neil Livingston’s sculpture found a permanent new home in front of the entrance of City of Glasgow College.

Robertson said: “It’s a great example of how the lifespan of a contemporary artwork can be extended and how, if given the chance, works can take on new meanings in new places. Contemporary works do not lose their artistic value when their initial period on display comes to an end; they just need new audiences.”

The organisers had previous success with the innovative Art Lending Library.

The new project is aimed at bringing sculpture to places it would not otherwise be. It is hoped that it will raise artists’ profiles and could encourage fresh commissions. Adopters may also involve the sculptors in projects related to the piece.

One artist putting work up for adoption is Glasgow-based Nick Evans who said (see case study for full quotes): “A few years ago I was invited to do a solo exhibition at Tramway, which was great, I really threw myself into creating the pieces. There were a dozen large plaster sculptures arpound 1.5m tall and weighing 100kg each.

“I didn’t want to destroy them afterwards - it was a significant moment in my career. I swapped one with my landlord for two shipping containers and space in the backyard to store the rest.

“The prospect of finding more interesting spaces and ways to display this work really interests me, as does the whole idea of giving a new sense of value to the work.”

Rachel Lowther, a Glasgow artist with a strong commitment to promoting art in education, said (see case study for full quotes): “I’m really looking forward to seeing who comes forward to adopt pieces and how it develops.

“My studio is full of sculpture now and it can be a problem finding space to create anything new. Sculptors either have to keep work in their studios or pay extra for storage.

“This is a great experiment – it is better to have art out in the world, than in boxes. A sculpture is a better place to meet and talk than a water cooler.”

The adoption scheme has been made possible thanks to support from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund.

Amanda Catto, Head of Visual Arts at Creative Scotland said: “This is a great way to bring art - quite literally - into people’s lives. All artists want their work to be seen and enjoyed by as many people as possible. This project will get works out of storage and into public circulation - it is generous, exciting and of real benefit to all involved.”

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Adoption scheme seeks loving homes for Scottish Contemporary Sculpture

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