Stephen Boyd

During my postgraduate year at Glasgow School of Art (and more specifically) throughout the two years spent in Italy on travelling scholarships (1981-3), quotations from the canon of European Art History tended to proliferate in my painting practice. Over a number of years, I became enamoured with the  implications of invoking the art of the past as a distancing device to examine, unfolding contemporary events and (perhaps) more deep-seated autobiographic content.

In 1995 I was invited to create a set of new works for a thematic show entitled – Foreign Bodies at the Shinjuku Centre, Tokyo. The set of oil & encaustic panels produced, were made in response to images transcribed from the last Yugoslavian Tourist brochure published before the conflict. European Rustic a solo exhibition at Real gallery in New York (1999) was the culmination of a line of inquiry where the art of the past, and more particularly, the codes & conventions of history painting were deployed as an oblique form of reportage.

Since 2000 I have become increasingly interested in the expressive potential of a site-specific or located painting practice, one that temporarily intervenes with the established register of historic artworks within permanent collections. The Proximity exhibition of sited works at the Art Gallery & Museum, Kelvingrove (Glasgow) 2000, set out to test the potential of disrupting the curatorial conventions of an established permanent collection, to produce an unexpected context in which to explore contemporary events. For the Proximity exhibition, a number of pertinent historic works from the collection at Kelvingrove were selected. The process of temporarily disturbing the established register for a given artwork, involved a range of formal / interventionist strategies.

Over time, I was able to unearth many layers of visual correspondence in the artifacts stored within the vast MCC complex. The mix of fine ornament, scientific apparatus and the remnants of once cutting-edge technology; is redolent with nostalgia. The quantity and diversity of intriguing acquisitions at MCC, encourages the viewer to participate in the pleasurable work of cultural detection. The images gathered triggered an ambition in me, to create a suite of lithographs, the prints aimed to tease out aspects of pictorial congruence between the hoard (under scrutiny) and a number of indicative artifacts found at MCC that (I felt) deserved to be rediscovered by a broader audience.

At this juncture I envisioned that the After The Gold Rush exhibition would operate as a signpost to the MCC facility, whilst raising questions about the episodic and sometimes incandescent popular interest that tends to shape collections, set against the inevitable ebb of footfall, symptomatic of the collections storage facility at MCC.