At Home – Readings: Domestic Bliss

In exhibitions I always love to create a space to stop, sit, read and browse. A space where you observe the works in an exhibition from a distance. This area in Domestic Bliss is set at a dining room table in the centre of the exhibition, near the TV with the introduction film for the show and with piles of books, a couple of magazines to browse through. In future times this may need to be accompanied by antibacterial wipes and gloves, but for the moment there is a stack of books in the closed gallery for me to make a selection from my memory (all work drives with the book list are currently unavailable). A lot of the titles in this space were suggested by people that I had conversations about this exhibition with along the way so they are noted as well.

Katie Bruce, 1 May 2020

Joel Sternfeld On This Site, chronicle Books, 1997
Just before lockdown, I went to the cinema to see Dark Waters with Mark Ruffalo. It had been a last minute decision and to be honest I hadn’t read anything about the film – it just seemed the best of what there was on offer. More than slightly shell shocked emerging from the cinema – remembering my Mum’s delight on the Teflon logo in the middle of frying pan – it made me think of Joel Sternfeld’s work 518 101st Street, Love Canal Neighborhood, Niagara Falls, New York 1994 from this series and on display in Domestic Bliss. The photograph is of a house all boarded up and reveals a much more challenging history when you read the photographer’s accompanying text. The land on which it was built was contaminated by local industry. This was only revealed following a major civil court case brought by a mother whose children contracted a rare blood disorder because they lived in the area. Cut forward to now in lockdown, I am reading Silent Spring by Rachel Carson for a collection exhibition – Drink in the beauty – next year. Incredibly sobering to think it was written 50 + years ago and uncomfortably connected to how politics, business and science are currently being played out with COVID 19 and the human and envriomental impact that this is having. I am hopeful though that as we are seeing our enviroment change around us due to less polution and consumerism that we might learn through this experience and make the changes that so many climate activists and scientists over the years have been asking of us.

ed Nathan Connolly, Know Your Place – Essays on the Working Class, Dead Ink Books, 2019
In conversations with Camara Taylor about their commission for Domestic Bliss, they cited this book as one of the sources for their original thinking about the work. Coming out of a response to the aftermath of the Brexit vote, it makes very interesting reading.

Helen Molesworth, ‘House Work and Art Work’, October, Vol. 92 (Spring 2000)
Dr Catherine Spencer from the University of St Andrews, pointed me in the direction of this article and some other great articles in the Oxford Art Journal Volume 40, Issue 1, March 2017

Francis McKee, Simon Morrisey, Daphne Wright, Home Ornaments, Frith Street Gallery, 2007
Daphne Wright visited Glasgow and GoMA at the end of February and gave a wonderful artist talk at The Reid Auditorium in GSA , as well as joining Scott Myles and Graham Domke in the Leap Year invitation – At Home for a conversation around home, their work and economy. Forming part of the Home Ornaments artwork on display in Domestic Bliss, this book continues the conversation about the public commission by Daphne Wright for the Queen Elizabeth Square in Glasgow’s Gorbals.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Alison Bechdel, Vintage Publishing, 2006
Bought from Category Is Books for queer times school prints I decided to include it in the Domestic Bliss reading list around the idea of home, family, queer histories and also because I loved the book when I read it. It is obviously much loved by one visitor as well, because it is the only book to have mysteriously disappeared from the table… on a beautifully connected side note, she recently read a piece by Rachel Carson for Universe in Verse on 25 April 2020, after World Earth Day 22 April.

Ed Richie McCaffery & Alistair Peebles, foreword by Alasdair Gray, The Tiny Talent: Selected Poems by Joan Ure, Brae Editions, 2018
Last year we hosted a lovely event with Brae Editions A Nudge for Joan Ure, featured Deirdre Murray, Alison Peebles and Barbara Rafferty in an entertaining exploration of the significance, and the work – including excerpts from two unpublished plays – of this ‘unfairly neglected’ (Alasdair Gray quote) poet and playwright. There are some wonderful poems in the book written with the wit and uncompromising wisdom of this 20 Century female writer. It’s available from Good Press if you are looking to discover her work and support a local bookshop at this time.

My final choice for this list is From Saturn to Glasgow: Fifty Favourite Poems by Edwin Morgan
Chosen as it is the week where the Edwin Morgan Trust launched the celebrations for Edwin Morgan’s Centenary and GoMA’s Associate Artist Rhona Warwick Paterson noted in our zoom catch up on Monday we would have been at the conference on Monday and Tuesday. As many people have already quoted this week I leave this post with his words.

“Open the doors! Light of the day, shine in; light of the mind, shine out!”

For the opening of the Scottish Parliament, 9 October 2004

Leave a Reply