Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A NuSpeak Publication Written by Children


The group was composed mainly of children from Belfast with a few others from Gorbals and Glasgow Housing Estates, and the group leaders participating.

No pressure was put on the children to draw, and no suggestions were made about subject. The only extraneous stimulus which affected the final result was a copy of a colour supplement with a bulldog on the cover - the image seems to have caught at least a couple of imaginations"

- The Scottish Arts Council
5 Blythswood Square

Blogger's note: The last names have been removed to protect the artists' identity.

(images courtesy of the CCA and the Third Eye Centre Archives)

It's unclear if this was actually put together as a NuSpeak edition or if it was meant to be in the style of the NuSpeak publications which would have been most likely been in the process of being put together at Blythswood Square. These are a selection of drawings that were all stapled together within the archives amongst other general information about community art. The words and thoughts of children give an unfiltered look at the state of the times as well perhaps the role that Blythswood would have played as a community center.

Just to put it out there again, from what I understand no one has a comprehensive collection of all of the NuSpeak issues in Glasgow (but they are in the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh), but it would be fascinating to compare the issues more in depth with the contents of the archives.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Tracking down Nuspeak editions, Blythswood Square's free publication

Related to the writings of Cordelia Oliver are the issues of NuSpeak that began as a free publication when the Scottish Arts Council Art Centre was located at 5 Blythswood Square.

These issues are quite hard to find, but the paper theses "The Artist as Critic: art writing in Scotland 1960-1990" by Susannah Thompson helps to see the first edition on Page 79, where the Third Eye Archive was presented with the last edition with no apparent complete collection anywhere in the world.

It began "This is the first edition of Nuspeak, an inter-personal information device. It is, as you see it, just a piece of paper with some words on it. But it is going to four thousand nine hundred and ninety nine other people by mail and is being circulated as a giveaway in different places. My name is Tom McGrath and I am setting up this scheme in conjunction with the Scottish Arts Council's new arts centre which will be opening in Glasgow late summer of this year with myself as director. If the arts centre hasn't opened by then, Nuspeak will tell you why."

Here is an image of one of the sections from the last issue that give a sense of fun that the layout had as well as the tone.

(A small portion, one eighth of a full-page spread of Nuspeak's last edition, 1975. The image is courtesy of the Third Eye Centre/CCA)
It is one of the best visual references to get a sense of everything that is going on in the art scene at that given moment. I put together a list of all the people it mentions with an asterisk if that person was graced with a full paragraph or an image of themselves or their work.

Derek Bailey
Jacques Barzun
Stan Bell
Earl Birnie
Mark Boyle
Stan Bonnar*
Boys of the Lough
Alison Buchanan
Bill Buchanan
John Byrne*
Cantilena Baroque
Shrley Cameron
The Cage
Sri Chinmoy
Martin Carthy
Cricst theatre group from Poland
Miles Davis
Joan Eardley
Michael Edwards*
Duke Ellington
Morton Feldman
Allan Ginsburg
Alasdair Gray
David Harding*
Peter and Phil Hartigan
Mike Horovitz
Richard Hough*
Walter Kershaw and the "Rochdale Sculptors"
Bob Laing
Steve Lacey
Jolyon Leycock*
Tom Leonard*
Sorley Maclean*
John McColl
Ewan McColl
Adrian Mitchell
Roland Miller
Edwin Morgan*
Robin Munro*
Cordelia Oliver
George Oliver
The People Show
Art in Revolution
Odile Redon
Ray Russell
Sahasrara, the crown Chakra
Peggy Seeger
Sonic Arts Union
Jim Torrance
Traditional Folk Club
John Upton

It ends by saying:
"With the opening of THIRD EYE CENTRE, all of its staff's energies and its finances have to be devoted to activities in the centre. We hope that you agree it is better, if you have to choose, to do something than to read about it. We don't have the resources to continue a free arts newspaper but if you feel strongly that a publication like Nuspeak should continue to exist in Scotland then write to the Director of the Scottish Arts Council and let him know your views. Our thanks are due to Tom Kinninmont and especially to Ian McFadden who, under rushed and shoestring conditions, managed to edit the paper."

These publications if collected in their entirety would paint a fascinating picture of the moment in time that the Blythswood Square paved the way for the Third Eye Centre and the ways that Tom McGrath in particular wanted to promote an awareness of everything cultural that was going on and to receive feedback.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

My Continuing Adventure with Cordelia and George Oliver

Hello again, I am back to report on the progress in cataloguing the Cordelia and George Oliver artefacts and I can officially report; I have completed the year 1970 and am well on my way through 1971! Ok, so simply saying numbers to describe going through several years worth of articles does not really provide an accurate picture of the work involved. To get a clear picture I would like to direct you to the clip below...

Reading through Cordelia's work it is possible to get a strong impression of how she was. Opinionated, out-spoken and dedicated are the first characteristics that come to mind. There is rarely more than two or three days between Cordelia's reviews, whether that is for theatre, exhibition or performance art which must have meant that the majority of her time was out and about, looking and watching the art scene around her. In ways it makes me sad that having read so much of her work I will never have the opportunity to meet her.

However the articles are still a delight, and the papers themselves provide an interesting context to the period. Advertisements can be particularly revealing,
'The George & Cordelia Oliver Collection at the Glasgow School of Art'
The advertisement here stating, "Like women, money responds to a little handling. Women and money both tend to get out of control if you don't pay them enough attention". Ah, the horrendous old days of friendly sexism, to the time when cigarettes could still be advertised..

'The George & Cordelia Oliver Collection at the Glasgow School of Art' good old Flora. You've gotta love it.

'The George & Cordelia Oliver Collection at the Glasgow School of Art'
It is quite incredible to see how what was considered acceptable, and completely normal a couple of decades ago in 1970, would seem bizarre today (excluding Flora of course). Equally it is very interesting to see that the concerns and issues of society today have not really changed.

'The George & Cordelia Oliver Collection at the Glasgow School of Art'
It seems that people will continue to worry about harmful ideas being transmitted through any content that contains 'sex' in it, with the internet now playing a large role in people's concern, and the Tories continue to do what they do best. It seems history is doomed to repeat itself.

P.S. A face you might recognise.
'The George & Cordelia Oliver Collection at the Glasgow School of Art'