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In the de-installation process of ATELIER PUBLIC there is the creation of a space to revisit works, ideas and thoughts. Some of this was done in public, generally under a sympathetic eye as people wondered how we were going to do it, and those open conversations were valuable in themselves reminding me of moments witnessed or related.

The work was removed, obliterated, remembered , struggled with and ultimately destroyed.*  Out of the destruction a new exhibition was growing and now when you enter Gallery 2 there are no visible signs of the exhibition left.

It is left to documentation, myth and nostalgia to construct something out of the exhibition.

*Thanks go to the amazing GoMA Gallery Assistants who helped de-install and Rowan for helping de-install Counterscript on Balcony 2

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The arrival of the harmonium in Atelier Public #2 in April brought interesting sonic and musical possibilities. It’s an instrument with a particular physical relationship to the player – to sound the keys and create pitched material you must sit and pedal air into the bellows. It takes commitment from the player by engaging the whole body; running fingers along the keys to test the water will make a lovely ‘tick-tick’, but no chord or melody.

Listening for 2 hours I heard an eclectic mixture of fragments from harmonium players (sometimes accompanied by singing!):

Abstract sonic gestures and playful experiments
Katy Perry

Everyone is welcome to come make and play, and the harmonium is distictly different from scissors, vinyl, paper and cardboard. In here, it’s a lone instrument that creates transient musical material – different from the visual sculptures and images in the sense that they were made in the surroundings of the gallery – it’s full of other people’s works, created by those who have come before them. But when a person sits down to play harmonium (as with the costumes) they have no idea as to what music people have previously created. Layers of finishedness, originality and quotation, free and fixed material slip away undocumented. Surrounded by the visual work, costumes, the sounds of the gallery and beyond, each possible new artistic adventure between mediums requires meeting, translation and a new common language with harmonium. Each endeavour ultimately results in a temporary musical act.

Dissolution and scoring
The overwhelming multiplicity and ‘fixedness’ of the visual language in contrast to the impermanent nature of the harmonium music was interesting, and I decided to spend a day score-making on the gallery wall, starting from some traditionally notated harmonium sketches.

Soon creating anything near to traditional notation seemed impossible – the existing visual works seemed to embody an immediacy and essential energy, and their expressive force (along with the small amount of space I had to work in) soon lead to a search for the essential in the sketches: the music’s gestural and textural elements. By no means a negative development, this new score left greater space for individual player interpretation and creativity.

As I started to move the score to the wall, and it became embedded in the surrounding visual material – which in turn also became part of the score – it’s limits were expanded by the complexity inherent in the images already present.

The dissolution of the individual voice in participatory projects is a recurring theme in my practice. The tension between a practice of non-attachment and the common desires of artists to shape, detail and control is a constant and moving state; degrees of relinquishing and immovability are inherent in each decision. What are we frightened to loose through giving rather than defending?

Playing & Sonic Bothy
These challenges when present in ATELIERPUBLIC#2 are visual and don’t apply in the same way to the gallery’s sound world. For those playing harmonium the individuality of their musical material remains intact due to the relative space in the gallery’s sonic environment.

Sonic Bothy spent 2 sessions scoring, playing and creating music. We responded to artwork, sounds inside the gallery and outside, to a rooftop buddleia, while sounding entirely ‘of ourselves’ as an ensemble, and experiencing no similar conflict of ensemble and musical identity. Had the cacophony, density, mulitiplicity of voices, intensity and prolonged presence of the visual material in the gallery existed in sound, the result would have been a different kind of music altogether.

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ATELIER PUBLIC #2 Spring Clean

Having been away from ATELIER PUBLIC for just over a month, I was curious about what exactly might have changed. When I last saw the exhibition you could hardly move for the string and tape draped along the corridors and vast cardboard structures erected wherever there was space.

The space seemed to have a very different feel to how I remembered. The change was comparable to the change to my bedroom after a big tidy; the chaos was still present, but it had been subdued. I realised that this was due to Anthony Schrag’s ‘Destruction Day’. It appears that this chaotic sounding event had served as a sort of spring clean for the space. I was disappointed to have missed the ‘Destruction Day’ itself but there was a very interesting write up for the event in The List. I was pleased to see some works that I was not overly fond of had been destroyed or removed forever, but then after a little wander round I also noticed some works I had grown to quite like seemed to have also been destroyed. Although this was initially upsetting, it was a good reminder of the transient nature of the exhibition; it allowed me to further engage with some of the works and also reminded me of the phrase that ‘you don’t miss something good until it is gone.’ It was very interesting to see how such an anarchic-sounding event had seemingly restored order but it was good to see the subdued chaos gradually resurfacing as the exhibition drew to a close.

Arthur Dimsdale

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Friday 23 May 2014
2 – 4 pm
Gallery 2

An opportunity to join the curator and some of the artists involved in ATELIER PUBLIC#2 for a round-table discussion on the exhibition before it closes the following Monday.

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the chaos

a multiplicity of voices

I, you, they are transient participants

In the developing conversations I had with the artists in ATELIER PUBLIC#2 there were points where a random thought or idea brought to that table resulted in great proposals or starting points for works. These felt real and tangible at the time and yet, in the absence of the physicality of the exhibition, were ideas in waiting.

Once the exhibition opened and the installation took shape the majority of these proposals became obsolete, impossible and problematic in so many ways. The exhibition changed so fast, anarchic rhythms took hold and were multiplied by vast majority of the public who entered the exhibition. The artists, their aesthetic, their materials disappeared into the exhibition and then the whole thing was destroyed in one hour on 10 April.

The exhibition renewed itself quickly and in renewal wiped clean the act of destruction, although it is still visible in the ‘monuments to destroyed work we created. The reality of the act of destruction was subsumed quickly and a transient public rebuilt their own aesthetic using the available materials.

Within all this public process the impossible proposals were revised, rewritten and some were lost. Some needed to be done in the moment otherwise returning would mean you were walking into an unknown and unpredictable space.

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Sonic Bothy will be in Gallery 2, investigating graphic scoring, process and creating new works as part of ATELIER PUBLIC#2 this afternoon 2 – 4.30 pm and then tomorrow from 11am  – 12.30pm


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Last week costumes were introduced to the workspace of ATELIER PUBLCI#2.

Already bodies inhabit the gallery space daily, as the public wander, work, create, change and destroy with the materials available to them. The problematic nature of an artist inserting themselves into this structure – when the roles of artist or curator have become somewhat ambiguous- has been covered already in previous conversations, however it makes it no less problematic. When you walk into the gallery space you are hit with an overwhelming dissonant plethora of names, poetry, images, signs, statements, slogans, sculptural objects, architectural models and instruments. All of these pieces of people’s minds, made from cardboard, cloth, paper, tape and vinyl provided at some point or other in the life of the exhibition, and left to the will of the next participant. With this as a starting point I want to look closer at the physicality of existing in, and using the space.

Introducing cloaks and masks to the gallery will allow us to examine the safety and permission of role play. When one is adorned in disguise, masking their current identity, assuming a new one, they enter an altered space in which there is freedom to explore and act out-with common boundaries; to move in a release from personal appearance and circumstance. Based in my interest in personal storytelling, mythologies and histories, I hope that by giving the audience this option or permission of sorts that they will be able to connect themselves physically with the space, and adapt and modify the costume to fit their own idiosyncratic expressions. In a sense allowing the ideas to move from the walls of the gallery onto the body. Will these become performances, theatre, playtime, images, films? Tangible or ephemeral?

Of course there are subversive and potentially political connotations that play along side this, in hiding the face, dissolving identity. Masks worn in protest, riot and struggle. However the animal masks are reflective of the types of characters commonly appearing in the work being created in the gallery; identifiable faces which transcend language, cultural or educational limitations. They also carry religious, superstitious and mythological symbolism and can be read in a myriad of ways. It will then be up to each body engaging with the materials to decide what they represent to them as an individual.

Be it an exercise in escapism, or a chance to create and tell stories, I look forward to seeing and hearing of the ideas that spring forth over the coming weeks

Claire Adams Ferguson

t: @KladamsFerguson



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we should tread lightly when we interfere in children’s play


educational play or biological play …. or both


The idea of play shifts to please a voting public

directing play undermines play


they mimic they mock


policy and play paradigms do not capture the nonsense


The role of BEES to slow children down


the value of VAGUENESS


notes from ‘THE PLAY SUMMIT’ 14 April 2014

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emma picture

Thanks to Emma Balkind for taking photos !


On Saturday we were treated to the ‘stand -in’ for the screening of the ‘national review of live art’ from Modern Edinburgh Film School. What we discussed as being a short 45 minute presentation and chat turned into a much longer and rich conversation about  ATELIER PUBLIC#2, Modern Edinburgh Film School and the impossibilities of ideas and participation in the exhibition.

These few notes I am writing this morning will in no way do justice to the considerations that Alex presented and discussed with us on Saturday. I did record it and plan to revisit the conversation with more time. But in the absence of time here are some interim notes.


Modern Edinburgh Film School is a construct that I as an artist can disappear into and work with people who I could never have approached as an artist in my solo practice.

Tyranny of materials, film – stimulus to the space, prints – the invitation, materials in the films become materials in the gallery

reformatting the hierarchy of materials

Preservation of authorship

Collage interests me it is human nature

gallery as a stage of collusion, transmission and distribution, I have an interest in the role of Modern Edinburgh Film School in these states

absorption where the original form is gone. Opposite of editing to the point of essence or the practice of the artist as curator.

The art, the artist, the original work has now disappeared

The ventriloquisation of the stand in for the screening that was impossible

The edition is in the place of presence

Alex spoke with an incredible honesty about how challenging ATELIER PUBLIC#2 had been for Modern Edinburgh Film School and how difficult for him to work through the challenge to the aesthetic of his work and that of the school. He spoke at his surprise at being invited to be one of the artists to shape, inform and work in ATELIER PUBLIC#2 and, while at times he wondered what Modern Edinburgh Film School was doing in this exhibition, felt The Silver River was the most powerful work Modern Edinburgh Film School had done to date.

His surprise at being asked surprised me. Alex’s discussion of Modern Edinburgh Film School and how it evolves has often articulated for me, in far more eloquent ways, my thinking around ATELIER PUBLIC and my role within it. For me it was natural to invite Modern Edinburgh Film School. It would offer me the chance to challenge the premise of ATELIER PUBLIC  and work with an artist whose work I greatly admired and was inspired by. His generosity* with thought, questions, materials and rethought for ATELIER PUBLIC#2 has been invaluable since we first began conversations about the conversation between the two works.

I will end these notes on the statement he put out there at this event that he was now seeing himself as “an artist in residence in Modern Edinburgh Film School in order to create my [his] own work” and the natural progression for the school, and the disappearance/absorption of him in it, is for a new artist in residence and what would that look like.

Am I as much ‘in residence’ as ‘the curator’ in ATELIER PUBLIC#2

*I am continually amazed at generosity of the invited artists, colleagues and visitors to the gallery in ATELIER PUBLIC and that generosity adds new momentum at every turn.

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Saturday morning revealed shoots of renewal and recylcling with the ‘theft’/loss of scissors creating a different vinyl aesthetic.

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