>> Eduardo Paolozzi
David Mach <<
Scotia Extremis has featured art and artists several times, but this pairing focuses on the art of two contemporary individuals differing somewhat in style. Eduardo Paolozzi was Leith-born from Italian parentage during the mid-1920s and began his studies at Edinburgh College of Art. Despite working in several media during his career – mosaic, stained glass and even an LP cover – it’s his imposing statues which stay in the memory. Distinctive and compelling, they mix elements of cubism and surrealism with a more traditional representational style, and foreshadow the ‘Pop Art’ movement of the 1950s and 60s. His statue of Newton in the courtyard of the British Library is considered a modern classic, and his work is scattered across the UK and beyond. Arguably Paolozzi’s successor, David Mach is equally distinctive in output and ethos. Hailing from Fife and a product of the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, Mach is known for his strong, bold works using everyday objects – matches, tyres, coat hangers, bricks. His work often has a ‘performance’ element, with some of his matchhead sculptures being set on fire as part of the artistic process. Though both sculptors have a recognisable style and a distinctive canon of work, they represent different philosophies; Paolozzi the muscular, imposing urban edifices that speak of power and industry, Mach the quirky collages of the mundane and commonplace that reveal a re-ordering of the world.
by Marjorie Lotfi Gill
“I have been paying particular attention to the idea of reflecting deep religious experiences objectified or even immortalised in shapes and colour.” – Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, 23 March 1999, on his Millennium Window in St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh
If colour is language
place the autumn requiem of leaves
beside their honeydewed rebirth,
the speckled ink of midnight
alongside the pitted skin of winter daylight,
the clear brine drawn back to sea
next to its return in milky foam;
whatever the hue, the eye
will see the arc in between.
And for man, the body fallen apart
and reassembled back into a form
of itself, the five digits of hands
or feet, the same and different;
after the first break of childhood each
works to make up the whole
of their cobbled parts, hide
the cinemagraph between the purity
of our landing, and what is left.
Kneel to pray: the lines cutting across
palms aligned, mirror images,
equal and not equal, and with closed eyes
read the garnet map of the body’s
inner workings, as the geometry of colour,
both message and memoir,
flickers on the slabs below.
by Robin Cairns
He’s another of them artists fascinated with the faither who did his dogged duty
At some Fife factory making massive, massive … whatevers
(I can’t remember what he made exactly – but they’d be massive ones)
And now Oor Machie has to replicate the scale of his Dad’s endeavour in the false jeopardy
Of physically exerting graft – knocking up his art.
Otherwise he wouldn’t really be doing a day’s work, would he?
So he blast furnaces arc welds and grinds off the angles of all the hours God sends
To make the sort of huge but mildly annoying conceit you glance past on the motorway.
The doggedness is all very Fife, isn’t it.
(I’m from a picturesque linoleum village on the banks of the Tay myself). We are grim.
And very dogged – dogged to a fault, if you can imagine such a thing.
But I’d be happy enough to learn that Mach has a wonderful little man from Methil who does his blast furnacing for him while he himself reads Adam Smith in a hammock swung gently by the toe of a naked Jim Leishman as the remnants of The Skids wash his car. I’d be happy if Mach was so rich he had re-opened Seafield Colliery as a wine cellar and had a louche squad of Barbara Dickson lookalikes tending to his every whim (Barbara in her corkscrew perm years, of course) his every corkscrewed whim. I’d like him to have a gerbil called Vettriano.
But no, he’s decent. One of us.
Canny enough to elide mentioning what he earns.
From his submarines made out of tyres
And his heids of a million matchsticks
The making of which replicates at desktop level
The painstaking plonking of days in place which it takes to build massive, massive … whatevers
And results in a raspberry red semblance of, for instance, Robert Burns
Which David burns (I really hope there’s more thought going into this than the pun
Leaving a charred glowering likeness.
“Transformed by fire” says Mach, as the rest of us solemnly nod, surreptitiously checking our shoulders for Phoenix guano.
Marjorie Lotfi Gill is a founder of The Belonging Project, workshops reflecting on the flight, journey and assimilation of refugees. She was the first Poet in Residence at Jupiter Artland and was Poet in Residence at Spring Fling and the Wigtown Book Festival in 2015. Marjorie’s poems have won competitions, been widely published (including in Gutter, Magma, Rattle and The Rialto) and been performed on BBC Radio 4.
Robin Cairns has written and performed in theatre, poetry, comedy and print, including The King’s Head Theatre (Islington), The Utrecht Poetry Festival, The Stand (Glasgow) and the Saughton Prison In-House Magazine. This year he plans to appear as Morningside Malcolm in The Good, The Bad And The Weegie at The Outhouse, Broughton Street, for the duration of The Fringe. He will also be performing his play, Sawney Bean, A Very Scottish Cannibal at various theatres. He is currently writing another script on the life of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.