To meet George Wyllie is like encountering one of his sculptures – life enhancing , unforgettable, something that makes you smile and feel warm inside; oh yes, and just a little awestruck.
Given that he recently celebrated his 90th birthday, if ever there was a year of George Wyllie, 2012 is certainly it. A constellation of events under the umbrella of The Whysman Festival (www.whysman.co.uk) which celebrates George’s life and work, takes in everything from the George Wyllie at 90 Celebration during the Aye Write festival http://www.ayewrite.com/programme/events/Pages/George-Wyllie-at-90-A-Celebration.aspx, an exhibition at the Collins Gallery (March 10 to April 21) and a major retrospective of his work at The Mitchell this November. Visit the Whysman site for full details, and also to sign up for The Chums Club where for 20 quid you can join fellow members such as Sir Sean, Liz Lochhead, Bill Paterson, Alan Cumming and Murray Grigor.
Liz Lochhead at the RGI Kelly Gallery (www.royalglasgowinstitute.org) with a sculpture George made for his wife Daphne. (pic by Alan Dodds)
George in a paragraph
Born in 1921, the Scottish artist and sculptor George Wyllie, works in regenerative, performance and public art, producing a number of notable public works including The Paper Boat and The Straw Locomotive. George’s work can also be seen in the Clyde Clock at Glasgow’s Buchanan Street bus station and The Monument to Maternity which was purchased and located by the University of Strathclyde on the site of the former Rottenrow Hospital.
Art Words by George Wyllie (first published Homes & Interiors Scotland)
” One of my favourite sculptures is one of my last installations. It is called ‘Cosmic Reach’ and is sited up at the Lecht Ski Centre which is 2920ft above sea level in the Eastern Cairngorms. It was commissioned as a part of the Highland 2007 celebrations and is a contemporary work comprising of a stainless steel frame to define its shape and a helix that suspends a piece of natural stone…. a standing stone in space.
Although the sculpture is not maybe as high as it could have been, standing at 33ft it still indicates the right direction. I had hoped to create a series of these, a cosmic circle of standing stones throughout Scotland. Alas I have only managed two.
The ‘Cosmic Reach’ follows on from the uncertain course set by my happy compass, a journey created from my exhibition The ‘Cosmic Voyage’ in 2005. I have no certain idea of where it is taking me, however aspirations urge me not to dodge uncertain adventures and so let the voyage continue.
The aspirational aspect of the work is to focus human attention on a space beyond ourselves. The height of the Lecht and the nature of the materials that form it are ideal for defining a ‘launch pad’ for ideas projected beyond earthbound constrictions. It helps humanity to break free from these and aspire to enlightened ideas that lie beyond.
We are hooked on the physical side of art and often forget the abstract. It is this unexplored cosmos that I will explore in the next chapter of my life.”