What We Have Done, What We Are About To Do.

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Exhibition information about the exhibition What We Have Done, What We Are About To Do. at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, from 18 August - 15 September 2012.

Transcript

<ul><li><p>This exhibition begins with the early days of Third Eye Centre in Glasgow and the years of preparation leading to its opening. Drawing on material from an ongoing AHRC research project The Glasgow Miracle: materials towards alternative histories we are presenting neither a history nor a complete index of the materials needed to write one. Instead, the exhibition presents some of the raw materials that comprise the archive, unedited, often unidentified, and still in the process of being investigated. In addition, Glasgow-based artists Rebecca Wilcox and Oliver Pitt, two of the organisers of the successful Prawns Pee project during Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2012, have invited a series of artists, writers, musicians and curators to create new work for the space. With access to all available material from both Third Eye Centre and CCA archives they have had an open brief to respond as they want to the project or to the more general concept of the archival process and its assumed relevance and authority. Rather than a static series of exhibits, Wilcox and Pitt have encouraged a series of responses that will continue to appear as the exhibition progresses.</p><p>The title of the exhibition is taken from a broadsheet published by Third Eye Centre to announce the opening of its new building on Sauchiehall Street in May 1975. It was clear that Tom McGrath, the first director of the new centre, had already achieved a great deal working from the Scottish Arts Council Gallery in Blythswood Square and he offers a summary of that first programme:</p><p>Over the past two years we have run a series of events in different venues in Glasgow ranging from the big concerts Mahavishnu, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington to the series of international Poetry Readings (Allan Ginsberg, Adrian Mitchell, Earl Birnie, Mike Horovitz) and the Cantilena Baroque music recitals at Blythswood Square. We have run theatre (The Cage, The People Show, Cricot theatre group from Poland) and films (Art in Revolution, Odile Redon) and our Blythswood premises had a series of folk nights, organised by the Tradition Folk Club, featuring major artists in that field (Boys of the Lough, Martin Carthy, Ewan McColl, Peggy Seeger). At the other musical extreme, we presented programmes by Morton Feldman, Steve Lacey, Derek Bailey, Ray Russell and the Sonic Arts Union. The performance artists Roland Miller and Shirley Cameron also visited Blythswood Square and artist Mark Boyle was resident there while his exhibition was showing at the Kelvin Hall. The Blythswood Square premises also provided rehearsal space and a meeting room and photo-copying facilities for many different groups in the city. And the place and its staff acted as an information centre for the arts. Video and sound-recording equipment was made available to artists and community groups working in the Glasgow area.</p><p>McGraths final comment in that account mentions video and sound-recording equipment and this was to be of vital importance. He had bought a video camera in March 1973 after a visit to the Rotterdam Arts Foundation. After his return to Scotland he wrote to the Foundations director, Felix Valk, saying of his visit I learned a tremendous amount from it all, and will probably be taking over some of your ideas in total... I am getting a basic video unit within the next two weeks and will be able to make and play back black and white material.</p><p>He acknowledges the novelty of the medium in Scotland while foreseeing the likely developments the camera will bring, Will you be interested in tapes exchange once we get things going here? It really is a completely new field here, and none of the artists have used video before, so it will probably take some time before we start producing our own art video, but we should soon be able to produce video records of poetry readings, art events and the like... </p><p>That documentation began almost immediately. Some of the earliest tapes show McGrath filming his family, who at this time were still living in Inverallochy, and there are many fragmentary and historically valuable glimpses of life in the Blythswood Square offices as everyone tries to get to grips with the new camera. There quickly follows a torrent of recordings documenting the programme outlined above in the broadsheet. Poets and musicians such as Allen Ginsberg, Adrian Mitchell, Mike Horovitz, Ted Berrigan, Julius Eastman and the Brotherhood of Breath have all survived on tape, as well as a tantalising twenty minutes of Tadeusz Kantors Cricot 2 Theatre Group in what must have been one of the earliest performances in the Old Fruitmarket.</p><p>As McGrath predicted, these tapes were primarily documentation of performances but they gave him currency with which to swap and deal in the emerging world of video art. In exchange for copies of these performances, he was able to access tapes from the Netherlands, Germany and the USA. His contacts in London, of course, also played a vital role. John Hoppy Hopkins, a photographer who had become heavily involved in video with Sue Hall, suggested a consultancy on video and its distribution:</p></li><li><p>Yeah we got some information and wd be pleased to lay it on you. Best face to face armed with info rather than by letter or phone. If you got bread we cd use it what about a return trip to nether Scotland and 1 days pay for yrs truly maybe incl overnite accom and everythingd be lovely. </p><p>As Third Eye Centre became increasingly involved in the medium, McGrath became more knowledgeable and at ease with the networks and structures it was engendering. The Centre also became known as an important platform for video art, so much so that by 1976 it was hosting an important exhibition entitled Video (Towards Defining an Aesthetic).</p><p>Third Eye Centre itself continued to focus on the documentary aspects of video. The videos on display in this exhibition are valuable documentation of performances from key figures in jazz and folk, sound poetry, performance and visual art. They also, however, document Glasgow at a time of great change in terms of city planning and they reflect the activist side of the Centres programme as well as the social life of the times.</p><p>These tapes are particularly important in how they manifest the various strands of thought that were woven together in the conception of a new centre in the city. Third Eye Centre was given its name in tribute to the spiritual leader, Sri Chinmoy, whose followers at that time included Tom McGrath and his wife. From the perspective of the guru, the centre was a divine enterprise and the vegetarian caf, run by Maureen McGrath, was a means to provide clear practical goals for the centres team, bonding them through shared labour.</p><p>Equally, Tom McGrath was building on his experiences in London where he would have seen both Jim Haynes Covent Garden Arts Lab and the expanded programme of Better Books. His own editorship of International Times had demonstrated how a lively scene could quickly develop around an activated hub and his visit to Rotterdam Arts Foundation had confirmed that perception. Third Eye Centre, then, was a gathering point and focus for an emerging counterculture in Glasgow. As an arts centre it was also exploring the possibilities of mixed media and the increasing overlap of art forms that had surfaced internationally in the sixties. </p><p>A third important strand of thought that contributed to McGraths conception of a centre lies in the activities around Barlinnie Special Unit and the pioneering psychiatrist Maxwell Jones ideas on therapeutic communities. Within this context, McGrath and others were challenging the confines of art within the gallery and within a limited community of thought. This approach also acknowledged the rise of community art in Britain and this is reflected in the documents that were created or collected as the formation of Third Eye Centre was being considered.</p><p>There remains much research to do around the tapes and their content. It is also clear that much of their value resides in their ability to stir the memories of audiences and participants in the events they record. To this end, we would encourage anyone who has any memories of Third Eye Centre, or who can help identify figures or flesh out our sparse information, to contact us or leave information with our staff. </p><p>The tapes have survived because they were gathered together by Jak Milroy at the close of Third Eye Centre and donated to the Scottish Screen Archive. Later they were placed in the care of Malcolm Dickson at Streetlevel Photoworks and were stored in the offices of Rewind in Dundee. AHRC funding for the ongoing research project at Glasgow School of Art and CCA (The Glasgow Miracle: materials towards alternative histories) provided the resources to digitise the videos. Investigation and research into various document archives is now revealing their context.</p><p>There is a simple list of titles beside each monitor in the exhibition giving minimal information on each tape. We have also produced an annotated list that gives more detail. As this is an ongoing process, research will continue to be published in various forms throughout the exhibition. Likewise, the works by contemporary artists will continue to evolve or come into the gallery throughout the same period. Because of the sheer quantity of information on the tapes, the vitrines and the contributing artists, we have decided to create separate documents for each component of the exhibition.</p></li><li><p>Gallery One: Vitrines</p><p>Vitrine 1: Clockwise from centre pointLetter to Felix Valk from Tom McGrath regarding a research visit to Rotterdam Arts Foundation; March 1973 Operating from the Scottish Arts Council Gallery at Blythswood Square, the trip was made by McGrath in his role as director of a new arts centre for Glasgow during a period of development prior to the opening of Third Eye Centre in 1975.</p><p>Poster for a collaborative exhibition with the Scottish Film Council and the Scottish Arts Council; March 1976 The first of several projects organised jointly with the Scottish Film Council throughout the 1970s, Video (Towards Defining an aesthetic) featured the work of David Hall, Stuart Marshall, Roger Barnard, Steve Partridge and Christian Vogt. A corresponding one-day symposium organised by Tamara Krikorian took place at the Glasgow Film Theatre to discuss The Future of Video in Scotland.</p><p>Correspondence between Margaret Tait and Tom McGrath on a possible screening of her films; January April 1974 McGraths reply to Tait explains with regret that a screening isnt possible under the current gallery conditions, however a series of her films were eventually screened at Third Eye Centre in 1981.</p><p>Issue 15 of NuSpeak magazine launching Third Eye Centre; May 1975 NuSpeak was published by the Blythswood Square Glasgow office of the Scottish Arts Council from 1973-1975. Edited and with writing by Tom McGrath, it provided general coverage of arts in Glasgow.</p><p>Posters for events during the opening months of Third Eye Centre; July 1975 Alongside the inaugural Joan Eardly and John Byrne exhibitions, the opening months of Third Eye Centre featured gigs, theatre, talks and lunchtime readings by the poets Tom Leonard and Adrian Henri. </p><p>Photograph of the bookshop at Third Eye Centre by George Oliver; 1981 Initially a small sales counter providing original lines in postcards, books, posters, badges, records and art catalogues, the Third Eye Centre bookshop expanded to stock a wide range of books and journals including independent publishers Black Sparrow Press from the US and the Isle of Sky based Aquila Publishing Company.</p><p>The Apple Tree, A medieval Dutch play in a version by Edwin Morgan; August 1982 Number 10 of an edition of 25 numbered clothbound copies signed by the authors for the world premier performance of the translation by the Medieval Players.</p><p>Postcard from Edwin Morgan; May 1976 Featuring Tiger by Sam Smith, with an annotation and reverse message from Edwin Morgan confirming his RSVP to Tom MacDonald exhibition preview.</p><p>Star Gate, Science Fiction Poems by Edwin Morgan; September 1979 Participating in readings, seminars, an exhibition of his fibre pen poems and an evening of performance and music to celebrate his 60th birthday in 1980, the late Scottish Makar Edwin Morgan was a regular feature in the Third Eye Centre events programme.</p><p>Photograph of Henri Chopin performing at Sound &amp; Syntax festival; May 1978 Avant-garde sound poet, curator and critic Henri Chopin performed at the Sound &amp; Syntax poetry festival and exhibited original typewriter poems. Chopin returned to Third Eye Centre in 1984 to exhibit all 365 typewriter poems from the Last Book of the Rich Alphabetical Hours for the first time.</p><p>Vitrine 2: Anti clockwise from centre pointPhotograph of childrens performer Mark Furneaux; December 1975 Mime artist, juggler and student of Jacques Lecoq, Mark Furneaux entertains children in the Third Eye Centre caf. Events for children were frequent, including several visits by Gordon McCrae with his Amazing Mr Bones Travelling Puppet Theatre.</p><p>Think Charts and mind maps used in exhibition and planning policy, author unknown; c.1976</p><p>Brochure for avant-garde music programme at the Scottish Arts Council Gallery, Glasgow; August December 1973 A season of international avant-garde music featured performances by the Steve Lacy Quintet, the Ray Russell Quintet, Sonic Arts Union and The Instant Composers Pool.</p><p>Invitation to after party event at Blythswood Square with Stomu Yamashta and East Wind; June 1973 Japanese percussionist and composer Stomu Yamashta formed East Wind in 1973 and also included keyboardist Brian Gascoigne, guitarist Gary Boyle and bassist Hugh Hopper. Yamashta worked on the Red Buddha Theatre group with Peter Maxwell Jones who later performed at Third Eye Centre in 1978.</p></li><li><p>Photograph of Tom McGrath at Sound &amp; Syntax festival; May 1978 Publishing extensively as a poet and playwright, McGrath returned to Third Eye Centre after completing his Directorship in 1977 to perform alongside concrete and sound poets bp Nichol and Bernard Heiksieck.</p><p>Poster for Allen Ginsberg event at Blythswood Square; August 1973 American beat poet and prominent counterculture figure Allen Ginsberg visited Glasgow in the summer of 1973 to perform poetry and music accompanied by two guitarists. He also gave a press conference at the Scottish Arts Council Glasgow gallery and thanked McGrath for his influence introducing his work to British publishers.</p><p>Issue of IT, International Times; July 1968 Tom McGrath had been involved in experimental publishing and writing from the early 1960s as an editor of Peace News and participant in the first International Poetry Incarnation at the Albert Hall in 1965. He went on to co-found and edit the radical newspaper International Times in 1966.</p><p>Invitation to arts festival and exhibition of inmates at Barlinnie Prison Special Unit; September 1979 The first in what became an annual even...</p></li></ul>

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