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Scotian News

August 2017

Issue 150

Congratulations to the following Former Pupils who have reached milestone birthdays this month:-

75 Paul Martin; Desmond Anderson; Robin Smith; Jimmy Murdoch;

70 David Oversby Powell; John Macmillan; John Perreur Lloyd;

65  George Dudgeon; Lewis Bosi; Michael Dalton; Philip West; Gregory Toohey; John Wynn-Williams;

60  Aidan Pia; Valerio Nannini; Sean Gray; Bruce Coates; Tom McEwan;

50 None

 School News

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Richard Demarco’s Newsletter, Post-Edinburgh Festival 2017
Friday 8th September 2017

As I expected, the three weeks of the Edinburgh Festival 2017 passed at immoderate speed. Hardly had it begun then the Festival was over. The press, television and radio commentators were pleased to report that never before had so many Festival-goers enjoyed the programmes of the Official Festival and the Fringe Festival. The Fringe Festival has, of course, changed from what it was in the 1940s and 50’s. Now, I should point out that the most popular aspect of the Fringe Festival has proved to be what is now known as The Comedy Festival. This attracts a very distinctive audience to the one thousand two hundred and more comedy productions. Another important Fringe venue attracts a distinctly different audience to attend what is known as the Edinburgh Book Festival.
However, there are other aspects of the Fringe Festival which should be taken into account, primarily that of the Fringe Festival Programme at Summerhall. The audience for this is in contrast to that of the Comedy Festival. This year, Robert McDowell’s Festival Fringe Summerhall Venue attracted more Festival-goers than ever before, mainly to see the theatre programmes. This was mostly due to the large and varied performing arts nature of the Summerhall Programme. However, this year there was a distinctive Summerhall exhibition programme, inspired by the fact that the original Festival was born in 1947 as a result of the global conflict produced by the Second World War.
Outstanding in the Summerhall Visual Arts programme was that which benefitted from the personal patronage of Robert McDowell. This resulted in an exhibition entitled ‘Protestimony’, with a subtitle: ‘We need to talk about Calais....’. Lujza Richter, together with a group of her like-minded friends, was the creator of this remarkable exhibition. It communicated an alternative narrative regarding the ‘Refugee Crisis’, and in particular ‘the dehumanising and depoliticising rhetoric of mainstream media.’ It was located in a corner of the Summerhall Courtyard now given over almost exclusively to the process of brewing beer and the distilling of gin. The exhibition was to be found in a perfect environment in a small out-of-the-way section of this courtyard. This exhibition resulted from the six-month period during which Lujza Richter and Marthe Chabrol were prepared to live in the Calais Jungle, running art workshops mainly for the children inhabiting squalid conditions.
This was an extraordinary addition to the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme. It was set alongside other Summerhall Art Installations. One was made by the artist Jane Frere. Her contribution was entitled ‘#Protestmaskproject’. ‘She developed a dialogue with a social media audience, to create a statement reflecting upon the world’s rude awakening to ...anti-immigrant...bigotry,’ in a world dominated by the politics of Brexit.
These two exhibitions were in harmony with the exhibition presented by Alastair MacLennan at Summerhall. It could be defined as a retrospective as it consisted of ‘drawings, performance artefacts, and video documentation encapsulating different series of artworks made from the 1970’s onwards.’ I related this exhibition to that of Sian Mackay who portrayed the reality of World War II in the forgotten life of Rudolf von Ripper, an Austrian artist and adventurer involved in the dangerous world of espionage.
In one of the exhibition spaces allocated to the Demarco Archive, Rose Frain made an installation entitled ‘This Time in History, What Escapes: Afghanistan’. This was focussed on the sadness of Afghanistan and its recent tragic history of conflict, ever-continuing.
Also in one of the gallery rooms containing the Demarco Archive at Summerhall, there was for the first time, a unique manifestation of Performance Art made by Aletia Badenhorst, who performs under the name ‘Aletia Upstairs’. This was the latest form of her postgraduate academic life at Leeds Beckett University. Working with two of her tutors, Andrew Fryer, who is the Dean of the University’s School of Film, Music and Performing Arts, and his colleague, Professor Noel Witts, she focussed entirely upon the Demarco Archive as an academic resource. On the strength of her contribution to the Edinburgh Festival this year, she is well-set to complete her doctoral thesis.
I was indeed pleased to be involved, because this remarkable work was extremely well-received by all those fortunate to experience it. It dealt with the seventy-year long history of the Edinburgh Festival, and made extraordinary use of the Demarco Archive. It echoed the spirit of Joseph Beuys and his contributions to the Edinburgh Festivals of the 1970s and 80s. It will give me great pleasure to present this work of art in a gallery space made available to me over the next six months. This space is part of Creative Scotland’s Head Office in Waverley Gate. I am planning a programme of symposia and lectures to enable all those who wish to experience the art of Aletia Badenhorst outside the Edinburgh Festival programme.
I am endeavouring to complete my work on the publication of the essays of Sister Anselma Scollard OSB. This publication should be considered in relation to the history of the Edinburgh Festival, which I am still working on, because not only is it inspired by the contributions made by Joseph Beuys to the Edinburgh Festival, but it also explains why I continue to be inspired by the world created by The Rule of Saint Benedict. In my eighty-eighth year, I am more than conscious of my Italian ancestry and how my father’s family spent their lives in Italy in the small town of Picinisco in the Italian mountainous Apennine region, a few miles from the Mother House of the Benedictine Order, at the Abbey of Monte Cassino. This is a world identified with Saint Benedict who recently, in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, was declared Patron of Europe.
SIster Anselma lives her life now in the enclosed Benedictine Order of nuns in the Abbey of Saint Cecilia located at Ryde, not far from the other Benedictine Abbey of Quarr.
Last week, I was delighted to attend the private view of an exhibition inspired by the life and work of Joseph Beuys. The exhibition was entitled ‘Beuys fur Alle: The Journey’. It was a well-chosen title in relation to Aletia Badenhorst’s art work ‘The Artist as Explorer’. It emphasises the fact that Joseph Beuys was prepared to explore ‘The Road to Meikle Seggie’ in order to create his masterwork with Henning Christiansen ‘Celtic Kinloch Rannoch: The Scottish Symphony’. This FreshAyr exhibition involved eight recent graduates of Dundee University’s Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art. It was well-placed in an extraordinarily beautiful newly-established gallery in the historic centre of the town of Ayr. This gallery-space has been lovingly created by Robert Singer and his friends who are dedicated to developing the cultural life of Ayrshire, and in particular the town of Ayr. It is located in Queen’s Court in Ayr’s historic Sandgate.

Fresh Ayr

In 2004, I was pleased to give to Robert Singer a signed copy of the Demarco Gallery catalogue entitled ‘Bits and Pieces.’ This publication resulted from a collaboration between Caroline Tisdall and the Demarco Gallery in 1997, the year following the death of Joseph Beuys. I had last met Robert Singer in 2004, when he had just graduated from Glasgow School of Art -- then I had presented him with a copy of ‘Bits and Pieces’. I had inscribed this copy with words that suggested that he ‘truly respects the work of Joseph Beuys.’ This exhibition provided me with proof that Joseph Beuys is indeed respected four decades after his death, by a new generation of Scottish artists, now living and working in Scotland. I have acquired two art-works from the exhibition. They will bring the Beuys section of the Demarco Archive thoroughly up to date.

What is money book cover

I enjoyed the Indian Summer weather in Ayrshire earlier in the day in the idyllic setting of the parkland surrounding Rozelle House with its inspiring Maclaurin Gallery exhibition spaces. Accompanied by Fiona Robertson, a member of the Maclaurin Gallery’s curatorial team and a gifted watercolourist, I was able to study in detail the extra-ordinary exhibition of sculpture which has become a permanent feature of the visual arts experience offered by Rozelle House.
The sculptures on display are made by a team of wood carvers working on the stumps and trunks of trees amongst the woodland surrounding Rozelle House. These sculptures resulted from the theme of Remembrance of all the Ayrshire soldiers who fought in the First World War.
This is an exhibition of sculpture as a most moving war memorial. I plan to lead an expedition to experience it and to the exhibition celebrating the art of Joseph Beuys.
I will provide more information regarding this expedition. The 70th anniversary year of the Edinburgh Festival should make us aware that this, the world’s most prestigious festival, came into being as a direct response to World War Two. The art of Joseph Beuys, made in Scotland, was a direct response to his firm belief that art was the language which must be used to heal the wounds of war.
You can imagine I am very pleased that the programme that Aletia Badenhorst contributed to the Edinburgh Festival received a five-star review from James O’Brien. He now works at the Tate Modern in London. He is a novelist, theatre director, filmmaker, and a highly experienced contributor to the Edinburgh Festival. He was the director of the Demarco Gallery’s Edinburgh Festival Theatre Programme in 1992, when his Gyro Theatre Company won much-deserved acclaim. Aletia Badenhorst’s contribution to this year’s Edinburgh Festival expressed this Beuysian concept of art. James O’Brien’s review of her ‘performance’ clearly expresses this important truth.
I have been invited to conduct a masterclass at Leeds Beckett University in October; it will focus on how Aletia Badenhorst contributed to the Demarco European Art Foundation’s 2017 Edinburgh Festival programme emphasising the importance of Joseph Beuys’ commitment to the Edinburgh Festival. In January 2018, I have been invited by The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds to participate in the one-day symposium focused on the unique nature of the life and art of Joseph Beuys.
The link to the review is below, hoping that anyone reading this newsletter will take the opportunity to see Aletia Badenhorst again present her art-work in the gallery space made available to the Demarco European Art Foundation at the offices of Creative Scotland in Edinburgh’s Waverley Gate. It will give me once again the opportunity to reflect upon the four themes that it took into account as my contribution to Aletia Badenhort’s 2017 Festival performance. The 70-year history of the Edinburgh Festival focused on the dramatic difference between the reality of the 1947 Festival and that of the 2017 Festival, and how the relationship has altered considerably. In 1947, Edinburgh was still suffering from food and clothing and electricity rationing as a result of the Second World War. Sir John Falconer, as Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, and as Chairman of the Edinburgh International Festival committee, wrote in his foreword to the official Festival programme ‘The Edinburgh Festival is in no way a commercial venture’. That cannot be said today! ‘The Road to Meikle Seggie’ is the road which extends the spirit of the Festival beyond Edinburgh’s boundaries to the four corners of Scotland and beyond, through the British Isles to all of Europe and beyond to the international art world. The Artist as Explorer personifies any artist prepared to follow in the footsteps of Joseph Beuys, Gunther Uecker, Henning Christiansen, George and Cordelia Oliver, George Wyllie and Ursula Reuter. The Beuysian concept that the language of all the arts is an expression of the artist’s capacity to love, with special reference to Aletia Badenhorst’s hauntingly beautiful love songs.

I was reassured by the visit two days ago to the Demarco Archive displayed at Summerhall by Jacqueline Ridge of The Scottish National Galleries. She was accompanied by two architects responsible form the design of the new building which will house the National Galleries’ archives. They were inspired by the way in which the Demarco Archive was exhibited in the Johnny Watson barn on Skateraw Farm and had attracted a variety of visitors to the exhibition, who, when entering the barn, had exclaimed ‘Wow!’

ricky note

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