Thursday, 19 July 2012

Cordelia Oliver

Newspaper cuttings compiled by art citric and commentator Cordelia Oliver from her time writing for Manchester Guardian are proving an insightful source for our current research on the Third Eye Centre as well as providing useful background colour on the atmosphere of contemporary art culture spanning from the 1960’s to the 1980’s.

Image Credit: The George & Cordelia Oliver Collection at the Glasgow School of Art

Oliver played a key role in the set up and running of the Third Eye Centre as a member of the Directors Committee and active participant serving on the Third Eye Visual Arts Sub-Committee.  As a supporter of the centre she frequently wrote reviews of its programme, however not all necessarily full of praise as it seems she did not allow her proximity to cloud her judgement.  An extract here from an interview with founding Director Tom McGrath on his ambitions for the newly opened centre in 1975 is one particular prize for our research from this fastidiously complete yet personal collection of writing.

“When it set out on its new venture neither [Scottish Arts] Council nor Glasgow committee had any clear idea of how to shape the thing [Glasgow Art Centre].  So Tom McGrath has enjoyed the widest possible brief simply to make it work.  What does he have in mind for Third Eye, as it is now called?...’You ask what I mean to do at Third Eye? Everything I see that seems valid, ‘Put into Place and let it happen’: I think I’ll have that quotation put above the door.  The interesting thing is the coexistence of different cultures, even different approaches to the same culture.  At Blysthwood Square [previous site of Scottish Arts Council Glasgow Gallery and offices] we had art shows, concerts of baroque music, poetry readings, jazz, folk, and they all had completely different audiences.  I’d like to see some cross-fertilisation.  Third Eye may well settle in with one particular audience, but not till after I’ve left it...Let’s say I’m interested in a breakdown between compartments in the arts.  I’m interested in an international present and a local situation.  I can’t see the outcome – that’s what makes it so exciting.’”

By Cordelia Oliver from Arts Guardian, Manchester Guardian, February 1975.

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