Artists carve out new name for themselves with sculpture adoption scheme

Picture: John Devlin
Picture: John Devlin
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Like in the Swedish furniture store, customers browse through a catalogue while getting a feel for items and seeing how they may look outside the showroom.

But these objects are not sofas or flat-pack bookshelves, they are works of art in need of a new home.

Welcome to the Sculpture Showroom, part of an innovative “art adoption” project, which opens to the public tomorrow.

Its walk-through layout and open displays is borrowed from ubiquitous furniture giant Ikea.

In stock here, however, is a selection of contemporary sculptures crying out for someone to adopt them.

The scheme being launched in Glasgow involves more than 50 artists and nearly 100 works of art.

Its aim is to solve the problem of major works languishing unseen and gathering dust in storage when exhibitions end.

From the outset, the hope is those adopting the sculptures will be schools, community groups or housing associations who can offer the works a new audience.

Adoption will be free but “guardians” will take responsibility for care and display of the artwork.

The move follows previous success with the innovative Art Lending Library.

Michelle Emery-Barker is with the Sculpture Placement Group, which is behind 
the Sculpture Adoption Project.

The showroom is being used to launch the catalogue as part of the Glasgow International 2018 art festival, which runs from Friday to 7 May.

“It’s a little bit different – so it’s not set out like a proper exhibition,” said Michelle. “We wanted to mimic an Ikea showroom.

“So we’ve got a section of eight artists in the showroom, and there is an accompanying catalogue which is the other half of the project.”

She added: “In the first instance, we are really keen on finding organisations with audiences that aren’t encountering art in their day-to-day lives.

“Some of the artists have said they are less keen on more corporate organisations adopting the work, and we are keen that this is not a means for organisations to amass collections of art for free.”

Pieces by Scottish artists including Laura Aldridge, Beagles & Ramsay, Mary Redmond, Andrew Lacon, Rachel Lowther, Nick Evans, Felix Welch and Littlewhitehead will be on show at the Sculpture Showroom in the hope of finding them somewhere to go on long-term display.

Michelle said: “The organisations need to be able to look after them.

“Also, they need to be certain that they can give them a good home and an audience.

“Some of the works are valuable, but also the gift of the artwork has a value attached to it, and we are keen to highlight that.

“It is not the stuff that is going for free and that no-one wants – it is a gift from the artist to the organisation.”

Among those offering work through the programme are the respected duo John Beagles and Graham Ramsay, who have worked collaboratively since 1996, and have exhibited internationally.

Graham said: “Any artist would prefer for their work to be present in the world rather than hidden in a box – we all make work to be seen or interacted with.”

The Sculpture Adoption Scheme is a pilot project and, if successful, could be extended.

Already the signs are positive with more than 30 inquiries from potential adopters before the festival even begins.