Museography: Calum Colvin Reflects on The McManus Collections

Museography: Calum Colvin Reflects on The McManus Collections

Friday 7 July to Sunday 29 October 2017

The rich and varied collection displayed in The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum is the focus of a major new exhibition by esteemed Scottish artist, Calum Colvin, as part of the museum’s 150th celebrations. In ‘Museography: Calum Colvin Reflects on The McManus Collections’, the artist has positioned a number of his intriguing photographs within the gallery spaces, which comment upon, and relate to, selected permanent displays throughout the galleries.

Born in Glasgow in 1961, Calum Colvin has exhibited his work nationally and internationally for over thirty years since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1985. He is Head of Contemporary Art Practice at the University of Dundee and was winner of one of the first Scottish Arts Council Creative Scotland Awards. He was awarded an OBE in 2001 and his works have been widely exhibited in venues as diverse as Orkney, Los Angeles and Ecuador, and are represented in numerous collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Museum of Fine Art, Houston; The Tate Gallery, London and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.

In the gallery spaces at The McManus, Calum Colvin has been reflecting upon Dundee and its place in Scottish, British and world culture, using elements relating to the landscape, history and the people from early times to the 20th Century. Each of his interventions offer a new and surprising perspective on the key works in the gallery space, with Colvin using symbolism and metaphor, allegory and analogy, replica and similitude. An office space can become the Swiss Alps, with Napoleon on his charger; a dishevelled bedroom morphs into a lake with a white swan (Mute Swan); a sitting room becomes a roost for pigeons or a set for Robbie Burns (The Common Runt); an artist’s studio a space inhabited by Bonnie Prince Charlie, but with fancy cakes replacing the colours on the artist’s palette (Portrait of Charles Edward Stuart (after Liotard)).

The starting process of Colvin’s work is a studio set. The set is adorned with every kind of everyday objects – from furniture, ironing boards, gramophones and wallpaper to books, prints and even monocycles. It is onto this assortment that the artist paints his subject – a scene, an episode, a portrait. Added to this stunning mix are 3-D photographs that challenge the nature of photography as a two-dimensional practice. There are complicated ‘Mirror Anamorphosis’ where the stretched photograph is laid flat in a circular form and viewed from an upright cylindrical mirror, in the centre of the piece, allowing the imagery to take shape as a subject. The end result is magical – stunning works which are almost like a puzzle or riddle. Familiar objects become fascinating and mysterious. In each photograph, the more you look, the more you see.

Billy Gartley, Head of Cultural Services at Leisure & Culture Dundee said

“The strength of this show not only demonstrates that we are exhibiting internationally acclaimed artists in the City but that our own collections, built up over the past 150 years, are capable of inspiring esteemed artists such as Calum to create exciting new work. This year’s anniversary celebrations are now in full swing and we hope that everyone takes the opportunity to visit us in this special year.”

Calum Colvin said

“I am delighted to be given the opportunity to showcase my work at the McManus at this very special time for the Museum and for Dundee in general. Having begun my career as an artist at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, and having such a close relationship with the city over many years I am very pleased to see my images integrated into this collection of artefacts and artworks, which tell and re-tell the story of Dundee and its people in such a compelling manner. I hope my works can add to this narrative, both in the context of making art and telling stories which reflect on the City and the Museum.”

Museography: Calum Colvin Reflects on The McManus Collections runs from Friday 7 July to Sunday 29 October 2017 and is one of a number of exciting exhibitions and events in a year-long programme to celebrate the 150th anniversary of The McManus. Admission is free. Opening times: Mon to Sat 10am-5pm; Sun 12.30-4.30pm.

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