Spontaneous Combustion

Renfrew St Social Club – Bobby Niven

Friday 5th October, Lowsalt Gallery, Glasgow.

Imagine a gallery where something fresh and spontaneous happens every week, where you can come along, take part and feel involved; a gallery with an “anything goes” approach, where things happen in an apparently ad-hoc and completely unpredictable manner. Lowsalt Gallery, just down the road from the Glasgow School of Art, is currently managing to achieve this, proving to be the most vital spark in an already lively art scene. Taking over from where the now legendary “Chateau” left off, and showing up most other galleries in the city, Lowsalt’s policy is to focus on creativity and experimentation across art forms.

The current series of short lived events, over two or three days every weekend, has included “Walls” – an impromptu DIY print-workshop, with a musical theme and a “Draw or Die” drawing ‘free-for-all’ challenge event. Still to come are a show of drawings, sculpture and installations by Alex Gross and Stephen Murray; “The Consequence” video screenings of cutting edge international video works; and “Tut Vu Vu” an art music crossover event, illustrating the current crosspollination between the thriving Glasgow music and art scenes.

Most striking, quite literally, was the explosive event last weekend of “Bobby Niven’s Renfrew Street Social Club” which took the form of a social event complete with music provided by a local busker, real ale, and an unsuspecting public… Mid way through the proceedings the crowd was evacuated out of the bothy like club area, and a large pineapple sculpture made of silver spoons was subjected to a controlled explosion, leaving a room full of smoke and relative mayhem. The involvement of trained experts made this a far safer event than it actually sounds (“Please, don’t try this at home“), and the video footage remained in the gallery as evidence of this 'Art Happening'. The results are another feather in the cap for Lowsalt Gallery, and another artist enabled to try out something fairly outrageous.

One of the trickier aspects of keeping up with what’s fresh and exciting in the grassroots art scenes in any city, is the fact that often by the time people hear about temporary and spontaneous events they are already over, burnt out due to organisers running out of steam, one way or another… Fortunately for Glasgow, Lowsalt is giving a home, even if it's just a semi-permanent one, to the energy, enthusiasm and ideas of the many active artists who may not otherwise get a look-in at the majority of other galleries in the city. This kind of open-minded approach is resulting in a vibrant and lively programme of events that will no doubt be legendary further down the line. Catch it while you can!!!

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