Our debut exhibition at Bard is a celebration of the rough and the smooth. Today we are told that a friction-free existence is aspirational. Self-checkouts. Automated ticket machines. Shopping delivered to your door. Ever-more convenience. Noise-cancelling headphones. Glassy touchscreens. Wrinkle-free skin. Veneers. Quiet luxury. Minimal, monochromatic, bland singularity. Blah. Meh. No thank you..
Friction is a powerful force of cause and effect, action and reaction. It creates energy. It makes fire and babies and feelings, good and bad and everything in between. Friction is the magic that happens when opposing forces come together. The rough and the smooth reinforce each other and make us feel alive.
In our smooth world we need to feel things with our fingers and souls. The Grit and The Glamour is an exhibition to conjure feelings. We have invited twenty one Scottish makers to respond with a work that expresses The Grit and The Glamour in their own impression. The results are supersized and quiet, riotous and jarring, kitsch and precious, precise and elusive, fastidious and fragile. There is an abundant generosity in leaving room for people to bring their own feelings, to say what they like and what they don’t, what they respond to and what leaves them cold. Craft is not about taste; it is concerned with bigger ideas than trend or style.
Craft is difficult and messy. It comes with sore fingers and smashed pots. Incremental progress is achieved through painful effort and painstaking practice. To be a craftsperson requires self-belief and modesty, courage and humility. Craft is simultaneously rigorous and mundane and, although it involves a human, the material and the process is really in charge. Craft asks us to embrace the unknown and have faith in an unknowable outcome. It is precisely this grit that makes craft glamorous, compelling, seductive, remarkable. Craft is a powerful expression of the grit and the glamour of humanity, laid bare, sometimes lovely, always intriguing.
The Grit and The Glamour is also about Scotland. For us, it captures something ineffable – those strange contradictions and confluences that lie beneath the surface of a cultural identity promoted in tourism campaigns. Scotland is a progressive country because it embraces friction; it is comfortable being two things at once. Cheeky and fierce. Sprawling and dramatic. Sentimental and bureaucratic. Heart in the past and hope for the future. The Grit and The Glamour speaks about elements and landscape, people and food, architecture and attitude, myth and mood. It is a profound statement and a throwaway line.
What matters is that we feel something.
The Grit and The Glamour is on show at Bard in Leith from 12th November until 28th January 2024. Bard will be open 11-5pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays or by appointment.