Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Visual Identity

Preparations continue this week for the forthcoming CCA exhibition ‘What We Have Done, What We Are about to Do’ with items being drawn out and earmarked as possible pieces for public display.  The aim of the exhibition is to provide a progress report on our research and the archival process rather than document a linear narrative of the activity at the Third Eye Centre in the 1970s.  We are therefore attempting to select items that may be agents for activating discussion around significant events and individuals and have a potential to deepen understandings of the background and motivations behind the setting up of the Third Eye Centre.

It is proving a challenge to consider which items will visually ‘work’ in a gallery context, whilst also providing interest and purpose beyond their aesthetic.  From the first Third Eye Centre logo and headed paper, hand drawn posters for poetry readings towards a new logo and rebranding in the late 1980s the development of the Third Eye Centre’s aesthetic language is illustrated through posters and ephemera. These items reflect not only the changing social tastes but the development of the Centre’s artistic direction, policies and staffing.

This poster from one of the Third Eye Centre’s first major project exhibitions with local community is an early example of this varied visual identity.

Image Credit: Third Eye/CCA archive


  1. The magnificent Garnethill Exhibition poster was designed by Glasgow designer Annette Gillies in 1976, commissioned by the Third Eye Centre (TEC). Draft designs of the poster had been shown to the Garnethill Exhibition Committee (GEC) that was made up primarily of local residents associated with the Garnethill Community Council Steering Committee (GCCSC), along with a specially appointed TEC part-time Co-ordinator, Penny Richardson, and many other contributors.

    This committee, together with Tom McGrath and other TEC staff, consulted an extensive range of individuals and agencies, developing and coordinating research themes, and determining the overall structure and ethos of this widely exploratory exhibition. In many instances members made highly practical contributions themselves. The GEC was chaired throughout by Jean Forsyth, an Advocate who lived in Renfrew St. Jean Forsyth was at that time chairing the newly formed GCCSC, and she later became a Board Member of the Third Eye.

    The GEC met frequently over a period of 10 months, starting in early January 1976, leading to the November opening. The essential thrust of the proposal had been agreed by December 1975, having been earlier initiated through discussion between Tom McGrath and artist John Kraska (a Hill St resident and GCCSC founder member). Some months before that, John Kraska had arranged that TEC would provide a venue to hold a Garnethill public meeting to establish the interest within the area to set up its own Community Council (Community Councils were a new concept introduced by central government statute). Following a further public meeting in the Garnethill Convent Annexe, Jean Forsyth, songwriter/actor Jimmy (James) Copeland, and artist/designer Irene Keenan were voted as the GCCSC's first office bearers. The idea of a public exhibition in the TEC on a Garnethill theme was then put to this steering committee, and after some initial reservation - most had no experience whatsoever of exhibition presentation - they rose to the challenge.

    There had been much Exhibition Committee discussion prior to the final resolution of the poster's design - with the poster text gradually becoming multi-lingual in acknowledgement of the area's large and diverse immigrant population. It was conceived so that variants of it could be used for fliers and invitation cards, and the graphic text in the main speech bubble was applied to the upper part of the left (from outside) Sauchiehall St. window. Also, a painted "Garnethill Exhibition" banner was stretched right across Sauchiehall street(!) while inside on the wall facing the main entrance, above the foyer entrance was fixed a hand-made "Garnethill Exhibition" sign, each letter painted on a cut plywood roundel. The combined effects of strong signage, lively advertising, and extensive community involvement and preparation over a lengthy period, were no doubt instrumental towards achieving over 1000 visitors in one day alone, as a letter of the period jubilantly announces, just behind the high mark set earlier that year at the TEC's opening Joan Eardley exhibition of paintings. Annette Gillies's beautifully crafted Garnethill Exhibition poster encapsulates the dynamism that arose from the encounter between the Third Eye Centre and its own Garnethill hinterland.

  2. Thank you so much for so much generous information, we'd be intrigued to talk to you further and find out more about your involvement with the Third Eye Centre if you would like to get in touch;