Giant Question Mark on Glasgow Landmark (12/10/2012)
Glasgow’s iconic Finnieston Crane is set to become an unlikely plinth as part of a major exhibition celebrating the life and legacy of internationally renowned Scots artist, George Wyllie, who died in May this year at the age of 90.
A giant question mark sculpture fabricated by Ferguson’s Shibuilders and designed by Greenock-based artist, Alec Galloway, is being hung today (Friday 12 Oct) from the iconic crane, a well-known landmark in Glasgow’s skyline, by a team of riggers from Inverkip in Inverclyde. The project is supported by Creative Scotland to create First in a Lifetime opportunities for people to experience creativity during the Year of Creative Scotland 2012.
Riggers from Dalriada Access in Inverkip have worked alongside Galloway to erect this temporary structure which will hang on the crane until the exhibition ends in February next year.
Iain Munro, Director of Creative Development for Creative Scotland, said: “As one of Scotland’s exceptional artists, George Wyllie’s creative legacy will inspire generations for years to come, and fortunately we were able to invest in this wonderful project before he passed away. The Big Clyde Question Marks project has created First in a Lifetime opportunities for former shipyard workers and community groups from Inverclyde to enjoy making art in this, the Year of Creative Scotland. George had a talent for connecting people with art, and this project does just that, by connecting the community with the industry that has underpinned Inverclyde for many years.’
Glasgow-born Wyllie was best known for ephemeral artworks such as The Straw Locomotive, which hung from the Finnieston Crane for three months in 1987, and The Paper Boat, which set sail from beneath the same crane two years later and made its way around the world from Glasgow to Liverpool, London, Antwerp and New York. He described himself as a scul?tor because he said the question mark was too important to be left to the end.
The artist’s family and friends are now celebrating his legacy under the banner of The Whysman Festival. A major retrospective exhibition called In Pursuit of the Question Mark is being curated by his elder daughter, Louise Wyllie and the giant question mark is part of this survey of his work. As part of their First in a Lifetime project, supported by Creative Scotland, they have also been working with schools in Glasgow and Inverclyde on the Big Little Paper Boats schools project, where schoolchildren have been creating little paper boats to be exhibited at the George Wyllie Retrospective exhibition in November. The exhibition will open at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library on 3 November and run until 2 February, 2013.
Louise Wyllie said: “My father always said he preferred miscalculations as they offered more promising results. This exhibition is a tribute to this guerilla-style approach to making art and involving as many people as he could in the process. He knew about the exhibition happening before he died and he was happy that his legacy would be celebrated. It mattered to him that ordinary people engaged in his art because it asked big questions.”
As part of the celebration of Wyllie’s work, Greenock-based artist, Alec Galloway, has been working on the Big Clyde Question Marks project, which has seen skilled former shipyard workers and community groups from Inverclyde work together to create large question marks, that have been installed in the old mudflats along the shore of Port Glasgow and Langbank.
The mudflats are remnants of ‘timber ponds’, where wood from Canada and America was stored and seasoned in the 1800s to supply the demands of the then-thriving shipbuilding industry.
The giant question mark on the Finnieston Crane has been fabricated by Ferguson Shipbuilders, the last remaining shipbuilder in Inverclyde. Wyllie made his home in nearby Gourock after moving there with his young family in the early 1960s to work as a Customs & Excise Officer in Greenock.
“We were particularly pleased to be able to involve Ferguson’s,” said Louise Wyllie. “My father had many connections with them.They gave him one of his first ever commissions in 1967 for a work called Electrike, which still hangs in their head office on Glasgow.”
Alec Galloway explained: “The framework of the big question mark, which has been made in sections, is dominated by a huge colourful, predominantly yellow question mark, with dozens of smaller question marks. Questions within a question. The idea of colouring it yellow came from a little sculpture of George’s, Yellow Burd. It is vivid, bold and optimistic. Just like George.”
Keep up to date with the project on their Facebook and Twitter pages.
Image Credit: Ross Benson of Dalriada Access
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