The One Where We Wonder What Friends Did

Oliver Braid1

Autumn 2015 saw the abstract sculpture of Oliver Braid fill Wasps’ Hanson Studios. As Braid’s show, The One Where We Wonder What Friends Did, drew to a close he explained the inspiration behind it.

He said: “As a project this new sculpture was inspired by relationships in late 20th century culture; collaborative and curatorial practices across early 21st century culture; as well as distortion and medieval mereological thought.

He added: “As an object the sculpture was developed with two questions in mind; what is the use of artistic embroidery atop philosophical carpentry; and what is the relationship between use and not-use?”

Braid’s exhibition uses papier-mache, embroidery, architecture, optical illusions, and semiotic art; encompassed in sculpture. His work forms a hut, the outside of which is covered salmon coloured foam, and adorned with the bust of Margaret Beaufort.

On the side of the hut is a peep -hole, through which the viewer can see a reimagining of the Friend’s set for Monica’s apartment. It has a checked floor, purple wall, sculptures, and gold -framed impressions of other artists’ work.

Braid explained: “Inside the room you can take a closer look at the display of five objects, which I made based on existent artworks produced by friends of mine. Over the past fifteen years these friends have influenced my own thinking about art.”

 He continued: “When someone moves into this room space and walks across it they grow in size, and it becomes clear the space and the objects have been distorted to create an optical illusion.”

 The challenging of perspective is central to Braid’s work ethos; as he explained: “Throughout my work I wish to maintain a critical perspective on local and global contemporary art.”

He added: “By the time I am designing a work it’s sort of chosen itself, there doesn’t appear to be any other way to respond to the world at that time.”

Braid explained that he was first drawn to art at the age of thirteen, upon seeing the exhibition Sensation (in 1997). He then went on to study at the Falmouth College of Arts, before Glasgow School of Art.

Now an established artist, Braid lives in the Glasgow and works from Wasps Hanson Studios. He uses the studios to develop a cultural space he calls Phew.

He said: “The exhibition that I have at Wasps right now is also an off-site project for Phew’s first season Tell Me Less & Tell Me More, which explores practice of over-relating and withdrawing.”

Withdrawal from expectation is a method Braid uses to avoid cliché; as he explained he no longer courts exhibition opportunities or popular approval.

Braid briefed: “I’m bored of the arts trying to persuade people to come to something, it seems self-defeating all this begging. My vibe is like, I’m doing this thing that I am focused on and that I believe in and think is valuable.

“In an ideal world art will be allowed to become as hermetic as science, and also be given equal respect.” 

Looking to the future, Braid is developing the first season of Phew (running September 2015 until March 2016).

He will also bring a solo exhibition to Vane, Newcastle, in January 2016.

Wasps Hanson Studios

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Hidden inside a Dennistoun building is a feast for the eyes; Wasps Hanson studios. Here ceramics, stained glass and drawings are just some of the treasures tucked away. But – once a year – the studios hosts an open weekend, to show the public what it has been missing.

Speaking from the event, ceramicist Eleanor Caie said: “Open weekends are a rare treat, and a lovely chance to let the public explore our working space.”

Elanor

Caie’s shared space showcased her Scottish landscape pots; Japanese style bowls and sphere lamps, which cast patterns from tiny holes.

She said: “I spend a lot of time making things and developing ideas, and the Glasgow ceramics studio [at Hanson] is the best space for this kind of work.”

As well as studio work, Caie helps run an arts fare on Royal Exchange Square, showcasing her and other artists’ produce.

Such multitasking seems common among Hanson’s artists, as stained glass specialist, Alan Robinson showed.

Alan

He said: “I am a full-time artist; I create work here at Hanson, but also use the space to run stained glass classes, for people interested in learning the craft. Students come as beginners, develop their skills, and often end up honing them over years.”

These skills, Robinson explained, are vital to a city renowned for its stained glass.

He said: “Glasgow is the UK’s leading stained glass city; so restorations make up about fifty per cent of my commercial work.”

The other half he listed as original wall mountings, windows and sculpture.

Robinson explained: “I have sculptures on display which I showed at an exhibition in Edinburgh, called Number, Sign and Pattern. These pieces include both fused, and cast and painted glass, with layered surfaces. The pieces explore the relationships between marks and signs, textures and patterns, images and objects.”

Another artist using glass in a different way was Alicia MacInnes. MacInnes showed functional jewellery and sculpture, made via bottle slumping and multiple firings. Tartan patterned glass pendants and bottle dishes were some of the results.

Alicia

MacInnes reflected on the changes she had seen during her time at Hanson.

She said: “I originally came to Wasps Hanson about fifteen years ago, to work in the collective glass studio. Long before that the Hanson building was a tobacco factory, which was eventually turned into artists’ studios. Then – in 2001- the studios were further refurbished with Lottery funding.

“At the time they looked fantastic; since then they have worn a little around the edges, but are still a good space.”

Another long-standing resident showing at the open weekend was artist Susan Eaton. Eaton joined the studios fourteen years ago, after leaving art school.

Susan

She said: “I have always enjoyed the space here. The Hanson Studios have a huge variety of artists working across different mediums.”

Eaton’s medium of choice had recently been pencil, as she explained: “I have been focusing on drawing for the past few years. I work with fine leads and build up layers to get a dense black effect; it’s time consuming but worth it.”

She added: “The works I have on display are incomplete portraits of women, focusing on the texture of their clothing and the weight of the limbs, as opposed to the identity of the subject.”

Also focused on the human form was artist Lindsay John, who showed a series of drawings he had made in Japan, 1981. Each drawing depicted several stylised characters in motion.

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He said: “I have had these drawings hidden away, and have just recently had them framed, so am showing them for the first time. They are very special to me.”

John added: “The images were made with a pen brush, common in Japan, which I used to show movement and performance. The figures are a mix of human and animal; reflecting different aspects of the human condition.”

Further anthropic thought was put into John’s screen sculpture, a fan-like object that unfolded into landscapes.

He said: “I made the screen as a gift for one of my friends who recently had a child. It can be held by an adult and shown to their child, to sooth them.  Then, as the child grows up, the screen can be a memento.”

John concluded: “The screen shows landscapes from different places in the world. Each scene has a person in it; these represent the journey that the child will go on.”

Escapism was present not only in John’s work, but throughout the Hanson studio. The open day showed how the space works to bring bespoke experiences to a diffident district.