I gladly strained my eyes to follow you is a 45min guided tour of Pollok House looking at a selection of female portraits in the Houses’ collection. The piece is conceived by artist Shauna McMullan. The content of the tour is made up of texts written specially for the work by invited writers, artists, academics and Pollok House staff. Contributors to the work: Sam Ainsley / Elaine Ang / Christine Borland / Jenny Brownrigg / Karen Cornfield / Kate Davis / Fiona Dean / Laura Edbrook / Moyna Flannigan / Laura Gonzalez / Victoria Horne / Kirsty Leonard / Jennie Macleod / Shauna McMullan / Adele Patrick / Sian Reynolds / Stephanie Smith / Sarah Tripp / Clara Ursitti.
It was shown as part of the exhibition Cabinet Interventions at Pollok House, during the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, from 20 April to Mon 7 May 2018.
Cabinet Interventions was a collaboration between ten artists and the National Trust for Scotland at Pollok House. In post-Brexit Scotland, how might often-contested identities and histories be articulated through artist practice in institutions such as the Trust? Between 2017 and 2018, artists undertook research and developed new work in response to the particular nature of Pollok House and its surroundings: an Edwardian country home managed by The National Trust for Scotland, with a significant international collection of art and artefacts, on the edge of Glasgow.
In 2017, and in groups of three, the participating artists undertook one-month residencies at Pollok House. Following each residency, the artists hosted an event to share practice, exchange knowledge and open up critical dialogues about the themes and questions that arose during their residency. This involved Pollok House staff, volunteers, invited artists, academics and researchers, as well as the wider public. These residencies are followed by an exhibition in spring 2018, produced as part of Glasgow International, that draws upon that research and dialogue to present original sound, installation, text and performance within and around the House.
This project was devised and led by artists Shauna McMullan, Susan Brind and Joanna Peace, who received funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh for the residency phase of the project. These three artists, in their capacity as Lecturers in the Department of Sculpture & Environmental Art at the Glasgow School of Art, had already been working with Pollok House for two years, developing on-site exhibitions with final year and postgraduate students. As a consequence of this initial research, these artists wanted to assemble a community of engaged makers around the site, who could work together in a critical and supportive way.
For my text, I worked with the portrait of Marie Theresa of Austria, normally displayed on the stairwell of Pollok House. During the show, there were renovation works being undertaken in the Pollok House which meant the removal and storage of several of the artworks. Marie Theresa was one of those paintings and so the tour spoke about her in her absence.
Here is the press release: CabinetInterventionsatPollokHouse_2018_PressRelease
Here is the full booklet of texts: Booklet I gladly strained my eyes to follow you
Here are some images of the tour: