Jenny Brownrigg reflects on the career of artist Mary Redmond and her installation at Platform, Glasgow for the national exhibition series, GENERATION 25

Mary Redmond, CROSS BLOCK SPLIT, installation view, Platform, Glasgow, 27 June—31 August 2014

Mary Redmond, CROSS BLOCK SPLIT, installation view, Platform, Glasgow, 27 June—31 August 2014


CROSS BLOCK SPLIT is located as an installation within the orbit of GENERATION 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland, a nationwide programme of exhibitions and events. What would a biographical orbit or 'cut through' of data on Redmond's work look like, over this period? A path of the artist's own trajectory can be tracked onwards from 1995, the year after her graduation from The Glasgow School of Art's Sculpture and Environmental Art course, by cross-referencing the index of the book Social Sculpture:  A Social History of Independent Practice, Exhibitions and Events since 1971. [1]

Redmond, Mary: 200, 206, 228, 262, 266, 284, 289, 316. [2] These page co-ordinates from the index of Social Sculpture, link to group shows that Redmond has participated in, and range through both artist-led and public institutions: a citation of work in Cathy Wilkes' gallery in her flat at Dalriada towerblock, Anderston which ran 1995-97 [3]; a group show In Stereo in 1995 at Transmission Gallery [4]; inclusion in Girls High in 1996 curated by Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt with David Harding, looking at ten years of the Sculpture and Environmental Art Department at GSA [5]; Host in 1998 at Tramway, described as 'a vast group show' [6]; again 1998, her work appeared in the group show The Social Life of Stuff curated by  Caroline Woodley for Patricia Fleming's gallery Fly located in Dennistoun, Glasgow [7]; Ladies Rock in 2003, with Katy Dove, Raydale Dower and Keith Farquhar at The Changing Room, Stirling [8] and G3NY13' and a large group show of Glasgow-based artists at Casey Caplan, New York in 2001 [9].


This secondary source of information criss-crosses a selected route through local, national and international venues that Redmond's work has taken. Where my first edition copy of Social Sculpture concludes, I can trace my own route through her work from memories I have either seen or read about: the Scottish Art Survey Show Here + Now in 2001; her solo show The Floating World at DCA in 2010; her installation in a multi-storey car park in Peckham for Bold Tendencies Sculpture Project 6 in 2012; her sculpture that uncovered a hatch [10] from the Director's studio in the Mackintosh Building, The Glasgow School of Art in Studio 58 Women Artists in Glasgow Since World War II, curated by Dr Sarah Lowndes in 2012; the triangular space her work existed in for Function / Dysfunction at Neues Museum, Nuremberg in 2013. These two routes are not exhaustive.


Mary Redmond, CROSS BLOCK SPLIT, installation view, Platform, Glasgow, 27 June—31 August 2014

Mary Redmond, CROSS BLOCK SPLIT, installation view, Platform, Glasgow, 27 June—31 August 2014


CROSS BLOCK SPLIT is sited in a dance studio, which is part of a wider complex of social and cultural spaces. The dance studio has a view to the outside with a large window wall, onto grass and a road that lies beyond. Natural light spills in. Sections of large corrugated transparent plastic sheeting are suspended from the ceiling, creating a stage set of works that make angles for possible movement and routes through the room. The sheeting is hung in 'landscape' rather than 'portrait' format. The views through the screens are partially obscured with yellow paint, which lies as a gesture on one side of the plastic, where marks of the application of paint, apparent then when seen from the other side, become a uniform sheet of colour, all trace of the hand eradicated. Shadows and light change throughout the day on the surfaces of the screens and onto the studio walls.


Small sculptures lie washed up in mounds like flotsam and jetsam against the screens. Each sculpture from the pile has been methodically made by hand. A ball of tape wrapped in black, with blue netting and a blue tail attached to it. Each trail of blue rope has been wrapped part ways in orange tape. These nestle in the curve of the plastic sheeting where it meets the floor.


The volume of this room has been filled with the sheets and a series of hanging pieces made with lengths of rope and black netting that cascade from singular points from the lighting rig above. The same technique of wrapping in a single colour tape has been used on each rope to create lengths of orange and blue. The rope curls down and around, each with its own spherical black weight attached to the end. There is a direct physicality to the work, ranging from small repetitions of wrapping of tape around rope, to splitting with the torn holes in the black netting, then the large scale sweep of paint on the sheets.


The work makes its own connections directly with the vernacular of the space. One of the transparent plastic sheets has been carefully fitted over the dance mirror, which extends along a whole wall creating a depth to that plane and a split reflection of self, where other views through the sheeting have been purposefully blocked with paint.


Mary Redmond, CROSS BLOCK SPLIT, installation view, Platform, Glasgow, 27 June—31 August 2014

Mary Redmond, CROSS BLOCK SPLIT, installation view, Platform, Glasgow, 27 June—31 August 2014


Redmond refers to the small sculptures as 'sputniks'. The first time I saw them, they were washed up against the statement architecture of the Neues Museum in Nuremberg. 'Sputnik' translates as 'fellow wanderer', traveller of the earth, and was the first man made object to be put into orbit. This name is apt, echoing Redmond's consistent exploration made through working with manmade materials. The movement of the sputnik in its own orbit, and the physicality of the title CROSS BLOCK SPLIT matches the movement implicit in the function of this dance space. The artist demonstrates this at a talk event as she throws the 'sputniks' into position. Through their arc they make a satisfying thud against the plastic sheeting, then following contact, drop into place.


In her initial visits to Easterhouse, for the development of this project, Redmond noted there were more fences than she previously remembered, splitting many of the areas, with numerous pathways criss-crossing or circumnavigating these pockets of land. Many informal cut-throughs and routes have been developed to get from one place to another. This has been knowingly brought into the cut-throughs of routes Redmond has created within the territory of CROSS BLOCK SPLIT. It also responds to the specific architecture of The Bridge. Designed by Gareth Hoskins Associates, the venue was built on a gap site between John Wheatley College and the local swimming pool, opening in 2006. The architects located the entrances and exits of the building on the established 'desire lines' over that piece of land so that people could continue on their old route, rather than being forced to circumnavigate the building.


Redmond is a significant artist who continues to innovate, through her responses to site and her interplay with the physicality of materials. 


[1] Social Sculpture:  A Social History of Independent Practice, Exhibitions and Events since 1971, Lowndes, Sarah. Published STOPSTOP, 1997
[2] Index references, P.371, Ibid.
[3] P.200, Ibid.
[4] P.206, Ibid.
[5] P. 228, Ibid.
[6] P.262, Ibid.
[7] P.266, Ibid.
[8] P.284, Ibid.
[9] P. 316, Ibid.
[10] Fra Newbery, the Glasgow School of Art Director from 1885-1916, had a hatch built into the floor of his painting studio in order that large paintings could be handed down out of it, to the space below.

Jenny Brownrigg is Exhibitions Director at The Glasgow School of Art

Mary Redmond, CROSS BLOCK SPLIT, Platform, The Bridge, 1000 Westerhouse Road, Glasgow, 27 June—31 August 2014