Concerned with the symbolic language of materials, this exhibition of new work by Lorna Macintyre looks to the themes of the sublime or romantic, time and temporality. Creating sculptural and photographic installations, Macintyre marries objects with personal and mythological associations, and using a diverse range of materials – such as wood, rope, mirror and various chemicals, Macintyre draws together a series of surreal combinations.
For Macintyre the materials and methods used to create the work are often as important as the images that are formally presented. With a working process that is often based on chance, Macintyre leaves herself exposed to the uncontrollable side of nature; that of sun and moonlight and transformative chemicals, as well as seeking a grounding for the work in literature, history and Greek mythology.
For this exhibition, Macintyre took as her starting point the history of the gallery building and its surrounding area, fragments of which are woven into the materials, motifs, titles and images in the show. For example, the inclusion of rope relates to its historical manufacture in this area of the city, the use of the diamond motif found in several works is lifted from the original wallpaper pattern in the artists’ studio (housed in the gallery building).
In ‘Apollo’ and ‘Artemis’, Macintyre creates a partition with screens, so that we experience the gallery’s larger space as two ‘rooms,’ alluding to the buildings’ original function as a hotel. Alongside this, the exhibition’s title ‘Midnight Scenes’ is taken from the 1858 publication ‘Midnight Scenes and Social Photographs’ by Shadow (a pseudonym for Alexander Brown) that depicts early Glasgow slum life, whilst the image used in a cyanotype work is taken from an interior view at Dreghorn Mansion, which was formerly situated near the gallery site.
The connections between each work is also of importance here and this is particularly evident in the first space where a dialogue is found not only in the works’ materiality, but also in the symbolic associations of the materials. The works, each displaying varying shades of blue, are brought together through the use of the chemicals used for making cyanotypes (an alternative photography process that harnesses sunlight instead of the electric light of the darkroom enlarger). In ‘Midnight Scenes,’ the chemical solution used in this photographic technique is employed to slowly encrust steel tubes with a dense network of dark blue crystals, whilst a digital animation of the changing blues of the sky creates a formal echo to the tones found in a double sided collage of varying intensities of blue created in the cyanotype process. In all these pieces, the working method becomes symbolically attached to the energy harnessed within the process (sunlight) and in turn to the element of time embedded in it.
In the second space, two large wooden frame structures are used as a device to de-lineate two separate ‘rooms’ that hold abstracted portraits of figures from Ancient Greek mythology. Central to the work is the dichotomy between these twinned deities; Apollo as the god of sunlight and Artemis of moonlight; Apollo male and Artemis female. This dichotomy is further echoed in the use of materials, that of the burnt silver of the mirror (silver being the metal the alchemists connected to the moon) which is also in turn used to create a negative for an additional sun print. Here, as with much of Macintyre’s practice the photographs and sculptural objects are characterised by reflection, duplication, duality or mimicry and present to the viewer a layering of varying sources, techniques and histories.