On Top of the World: The Scotland Pavilion at This Year's Venice Biennale Will Promote the Country as a Centre for a Wide Range of Internationally Ambitious Art. Daniel Trilling Meets the Six Artists Whose Work Will Be on Display

New Statesman (1996), March 26, 2007 | Go to article overview

On Top of the World: The Scotland Pavilion at This Year's Venice Biennale Will Promote the Country as a Centre for a Wide Range of Internationally Ambitious Art. Daniel Trilling Meets the Six Artists Whose Work Will Be on Display


Louise Hopkins (left) is a Glasgow-based painter. Instead of using a blank canvas, she paints directly on to familiar items such as furniture fabrics, maps, comic books and song sheets. Asked what draws her to these objects, she describes the attraction as "a love-hate thing. I'm interested in what they mean to people and what they stand for, but I also want to change them, because they're often things that stand for something particular. I feel a certain kind of awkwardness about what they are." One project involved painting over a map of Europe to alter the borders of the countries. "What interests me about the maps I've used, for example, is the very certain political bias they have," Hopkins says. "They're seen as neutral, but of course they never are."

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Lucy Skaer (right), who graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1997, is a painter, sculptor and conceptual artist. The best-known of her "public interventions" involved hiding moth and butterfly pupae in the criminal courts. Her most recent installation was inspired by the life of the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. Skaer is also a member of the Henry VIII's Wives artists' collective, whose current project is to build Vladimir Tatlin's Monument to the Third International, placing sections of the giant steel tower at different locations around the world. While her work has an international outlook, Skaer has been helped by the "supportive" atmosphere of Glasgow's art community. "There's a good grass-roots structure here and a much less competitive mindset," she says.

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Henry Coombes (above) is a painter and film-maker whose recent work has been inspired by Edwin Landseer, the 19th-century painter of hunting scenes in the Scottish Highlands. Coombes's oil paintings, watercolours and drawings feature wildlife and rural scenes that appear comforting but, on closer inspection, expose a dark and disturbing subtext. Speaking of Landseer, Coombes says "he had a great part to play in creating that vision of the wild romance of blood sports. I've always been attracted to his work, though I don't know whether that's because of the symbolism he uses, or the morbidness of the actual imagery." At Venice, Coombes will show a short film and a series of paintings based around these themes. …

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On Top of the World: The Scotland Pavilion at This Year's Venice Biennale Will Promote the Country as a Centre for a Wide Range of Internationally Ambitious Art. Daniel Trilling Meets the Six Artists Whose Work Will Be on Display
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