Ingleby Gallery 10th Year Programme of Exhibitions

For those who like their art shows small but perfectly formed, the festival period offered up a plethora of bite-sized treats. But with the August frenzy behind us once again, there’s one gallery that’s still turning out a new exhibition every two weeks, each lasting for eight days. With typical style and nonchalance, Ingleby Gallery is celebrating their 10th year of existence with a perfect daisy-chain of 26 shows.

And just to spice it up even more, the New Town gallery’s team have set themselves the challenge of coming up with 26 unusual pairings. Already, we’ve seen one of Rachel Whiteread’s inside-out plaster casts paired with Robert Burns’s breakfast table, and the combination which inspired the whole series: a slide-show of found monochromes by contemporary artist David Batchelor shown alongside a Russian Suprematist painting of 1924.

Surprisingly, it all started with a stroke of bad luck. “We were programming for a new gallery space”, explains the gallery’s director, Richard Ingleby, “but in two years of negotiations the date of entry kept slipping, and by the time we got to Christmas we thought, okay it’s not going to happen.”

Finding himself back at square one, Ingleby decided to seize the chance to do something completely different. “We thought, actually if we spent this year slightly challenging the way people expect a gallery like us to behave, that might not be an unuseful thing to do.”

The gallery’s team got straight in touch with their core base of around a dozen regular artists, along with others on their wish-list such as Whiteread and Ceal Floyer. Some of the combinations are the gallery’s own suggestions, while others – often weird and wonderful – were the unexpected ideas of the invited artists.

Ingleby produces the card listing all 26 combinations, and tells me that some people are already determined to catch every single show. Delighted with their enthusiasm, he’s thinking of setting up a reward scheme with stamps for each exhibition they attend. “I hope at the end of the year”, he says, “it will seem almost as if it’s been one big show in 26 parts.”

Ian Hamilton Finlay & Cerith Wyn Evans (20 to 27 October 2007)

One show not yet set in stone pairs contemporary Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans with gallery favourite, the late Ian Hamilton Finlay. “It’s possible that we might make a wall-painting that hasn’t been made before,” says Ingleby, “which would be a lovely thing to do.” Finlay’s Star/Steer, made in 1966, is well-known as a screenprint, but it has never been painted, as the artist intended, directly onto a wall.

Ingleby has been in discussion with Wyn Evans about showing one of his neon text pieces in conjunction with Finlay’s concrete poem. While the neon would go in the gallery’s back room, where all the shows in this series are based, the gallery is considering placing the wall-painting up the stairwell, to allow it to last longer than two weeks.

“I mentioned this to Cerith,” explains Ingleby, “because I thought it might off-balance what he was doing, and he said ‘fantastic, I’ll think of some way to make a small intervention into that space as well, that leads you from my neon piece in the back room.’”

Ori Gersht & Jan Brueghel the Elder (22 to 29 March 2008)

Young Israeli photographer Ori Gersht responded to Ingleby’s challenge with a challenge of his own. “He said to us ‘I want you to go and try and get a Jan Brueghel the Elder’,” says Ingleby, “and we looked at each other and thought ‘Oh God, what are we doing?’” The gallery, more used to handling modern art, went on the hunt for a landscape by the 16th century Flemish master, and successfully tracked one down with a dealer in London.

“It’s absolutely perfect.” says Ingleby. “You look at it and you just think that’s a wonderful little 16th century landscape, and then you look at it with a magnifying glass and goodness me, in that hazy little cloud there’s a whole city back there, and it’s one of those things that just reveals itself more and more and more.”

That attention to detail is echoed in Gersht’s films and photographs, and particularly in his recent high-definition video Big Bang, which shows a vase of flowers exploding in super-slow motion. The film, and related photographs, recall the Dutch still lifes of Brueghel’s era, making this an explosive combination.

Ian Davenport & The Simpsons (19 to 26 April 2008)

One of Ingleby gallery’s regulars, Ian Davenport makes eye-popping paintings by running highly-coloured stripes of paint down aluminium panels, carefully administered by syringes. At the Tate Triennial in 2003 he covered a whole wall in such stripes. At Ingleby, he has leapt at the idea of a collaboration by sourcing all his colours for one painting from an episode of The Simpsons.

“It’s a particular episode of The Simpsons that he’s extremely keen on,” says Ingleby. “I don’t know why – I haven’t seen it yet, but I look forward to working out why it’s the episode that means more than all others!”

This is the first time that Davenport will have used a single source to produce his colour scheme, and the Ingleby team are tickled to have, however indirectly, inspired such a new direction. Ingleby is modest about his part in shaping this unusual combination, admitting “that’s one I could never have suggested to him!”

Catrìona Black, Sunday Herald 09.09.07