Well that’s another year flown by with barely a moment to stop! As ever a rollercoaster with a busy public programme plus people moving on to new exciting posts and a chance to welcome people to new posts in the team. As 2019 is drawing to a close we are allowing ourselves a wee moment to reflect on those changes and some of the superb work across GoMA that took place over the year thanks to incredible people that we have been fortunate to work with and who have engaged in our programme. We also want to plant seeds of curiosity about exhibitions, events and projects coming up in the 2020 public programme.
This time last year Will Cooper departed for an exciting new role at The Holburne Museum and The Edge at the University of Bath. It took a wee while, but in July 2020 Martin Craig was appointed Collections Curator post 1945 having previously been Learning and Access Curator (2012 – 2019) and acting Collections Curator (2014 -15 and 2019). He is also one of the co-founders of Sculpture Placement Group. We are delighted that Angela Massafra was then successful in starting as Learning and Access Curator in September 2019 enabling her to develop strands of programming she began as a Learning Assistant and bringing a wealth of experience to the post. We have just appointed Emily Breedon as a new Learning Assistant so are looking forward to her starting with Learning Team in 2020. This year also saw a brilliant new cohort of people start as Gallery Assistants to engage the public in the programme at the building – welcome Laura Wilson, Adam Greig, Kate Lingard, Susie Grady and Suzanne Bain with all your energy and enthusiasm to the ever brilliant front of house team.
As ever when you begin something like this you realise how many people have been involved in the programme and the upkeep of the building including brilliant colleagues across Glasgow Museums in Collection, Logistics, Conservation, Research, Marketing, Design, Editing, Admin and those within the building in the Library, shop, café and those wonderful that come in early every day to clean our building. We are also grateful to our GoMA Guides who provide tours every weekend across all our exhibitions and all the volunteers who help at the Saturday Art Club and holiday programmes. The GoMA Youth group has also brought a fresh new cohort of voices into the programming of events in the building. GYG started in April 2019 and have worked so hard to develop a regular programme of events and are now working towards exciting plans in 2020. In September this year we said goodbye to our Museums Galleries Scotland Intern Jade Mulholland, who was invaluable for Jason E Bowman’s commission – queer timɘs school prints and as part of her internship acquired over 100 objects from LGBTQ+ history for the collection. We would also like to thank students from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Leicester University Masters courses who were super to work with and brought so much to each project they worked on. Finally this is a huge shout out to all the wonderful humans and partner organisations we have worked with this year on exhibitions, events and projects like Stalking the Image: Margaret Tait and her Legacy, queer timɘs school prints, Waxing Lyrical, Art Book Club, Archiving gestures workshop, Shakara: Time to Move, Small Press Day 2019, 10 Anniversary Mini Season for the Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven and A Nudge for Joan Ure to name but a few.
It’s been a busy year for acquisitions and we end the year with all four galleries in GoMA highlighting works from Glasgow Museums’ collection including the super new acquisition, supported by Art Fund, of works by Hal Fischer in Gallery 3. We were delighted that Hal was able to make the install and opening of his first show in Scotland and also thanks to Glynn Davis for hosting an ‘in conversation’ with Hal on Saturday 16 November as part of our developing Artist Talks programme. This show is the final exhibition in Gallery 3 this year following on from the popular, Mark-marking: Perspectives on Drawing, with work from Erica Eyres, France-Lise McGurn, Gregor Wright, Jonathan Owen, Lois Green and Ross Hamilton Frew filling the three spaces. Huge thanks to them for working with us on the show and for being part of a great series of Artist Talks delving more into their practice around drawing.
Domestic Bliss opened in March showing a range of Glasgow Museums’ collection work from not just the Fine Art collection but also the Social History and Decorative Art collections alongside new commissions with Mandy McIntosh with the Feeegie Needlers and Camara Taylor. We are also delighted that Rhona Warwick Paterson recently began as Associate Artist responding to the show and will continue to work with us until 2021.
Following the successful show Stalking the Image: Margaret Tait and her Legacy from earlier this year we installed the impressive collection work Disorient (2009) by Fiona Tan in Gallery 1. Originally acquired for Glasgow Museums and shown in GoMA in 2012 this re-iteration of Disorient – 10 years after The Mondriaan Fund commissioned it for the Dutch pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale – shows how the work continues to remind us that we live in a rich, complex world and historical memories, stories and perceptions have an impact on how we live together.
Reflecting, responding to and supporting the exhibition programme has been an overlapping learning programme for schools, colleges and visitors of all ages facilitated by our learning team. This year they have also developed Art for Baby, MAKE@GoMA, autism friendly kits and openings, a handling box session about the history of the building and an ESOL café. A key new project responded directly to Disorient Orientation providing a series of workshops and discussions for asylum seekers and refugees new to the city. Orientation has been incredibly successful and also resulted in a recent exhibition Hope and Home at City of Glasgow College.
The Learning Team have also begun programming COMMONSpace – a new community exhibition space. COMMONSpace emerged out of conversations with people we were working with and our interest in a platform for learning and dialogue, as well as a space for sharing the creative outcomes of these conversations. The first exhibition was Sawti: my voice and was the result of a collaboration between Mental Health Foundation Scotland and groups of refugee and asylum seeking women. The exhibition aimed to raise awareness of mental health issues among women going through the asylum process in the UK. The following exhibition Everyday Racism, opened earlier this month and will run until 26 January next year.
This year we have focussed our attention on the collection acquiring a number of works including queer timɘs school prints, following the successful exhibition and programme in Gallery 3 earlier this year. We also participated in the excellent Art in Action campaign developed by Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN) and their members. This important campaign highlighted the nuanced and wide ranging impact of contemporary artists and organisations across the country and is still proactively opening conversations with government about the visual arts sector in Scotland. This focused on the significant strand of Glasgow Museums collecting approach, developed in 2015 to address gender inequality. Continuing to collect a number of works in 2019 made an unequivocal statement about the value and quality of work by contemporary women and non-binary artists. These included works by Sharon Hayes, Winnie Herbstein, Sara Barker, Kate V Robertson, Sian Robinson Davies, Mandy McIntosh and the Feegie Needlers and Carol Rhodes. We also acquired the significant acquisition of three series of photographs from Hal Fischer and works from Hardeep Pandhal and Michael White. Last month Glasgow Museums was successful along with Bristol Museum and Art Gallery to get the incredible award from Art Fund of the John Akomfrah work Mimesis: African Soldier. We have also begun to acquire works as part of Art Fund – New Collecting Award with Mother Tongue. Wonderful works by Donald Locke are now in the collection with further works by Aubrey Williams and Alberta Whittle arriving in the New Year. Alan Dimmick continues with his commission to take portraits of artists with work in the collection and we are delighted that Matthew Arthur Williams has also begun a similar commission to photograph artists, whose work we have recently acquired. A massive thanks to OUTSET Scotland, Art Fund, National Fund for Acquisitions and Henry Moore Foundation who have supported our work this year!
So now the future – GoMA will be 25 in 2021! The museum opened to the public on March 30 1996 and was formally opened by HM The Queen on 3 July. So 2021 presents the museum with an opportunity to stage a public programme that reflects this significant moment in the museum’s youthful history, reflect on the work it has done and strengthen its current innovative exhibition, learning, access and collecting activities to publicise what the institution has achieved. In 2020 we will develop the programme strands begun this year as we head into our 25 anniversary where we will be celebrating 25 years of a unique, at times eclectic, socially conscious institution that has taken risks with projects and opportunities to support a world class visual arts sector in the city whilst creating a programme for the increasing number of visitors that is creative, curious and unexpected. So 2019 starts with a programme in Gallery 1 when Fiona Tan: Disorient closes. As the GoMA Youth Group and the Learning and Access team are involved expect surprises, new work, chances to be involved alongside film screenings and performance events. In Domestic Bliss a ‘leap year’ project with Scott Myles is currently in development, as are a number of duets developed by Rhona Warwick Paterson as part of her Associate Artist tenure. As 2020 rolls on we are excited to announce we will be working with Clara Ursitti on a solo show opening in June and GoMA will be a key venue for the Glasgow International Director’s programme. So not quite a quiet start to 2020 and also look out for the ever popular Saturday Art Club when it goes green , new acquisitions, artist and curator talks, holiday programmes and definitely Friday Dance Parties!
Wishing all those that have taken time to read through what we thought might be a brief round-up a wonderful festive time and please note GoMA will be closed 24 -27 December then 31 December & 1-2 January but back as unique, creative, curious and unexpected as ever in 2020.
The GoMA Team.