The Why?s Man

"My art is place specific and people specific." George Wyllie

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George Wyllie & David Michael Clarke, who created Voyage Round a Safety-Pin together.


Voyage Round a Safety-Pin, Citizens Theatre (Mayfest, 1997)

Review By Alexander Linklater, Glasgow Herald (21st May '97)

"The safety pin in question is George Wyllie's conceptual sculpture perched quizzically in the middle of Glasgow's Buchanan Street. Not content with it being a prominent bit of public art Wyllie has now made it the star of his Mayfest show. The problem is, what is the point of the pin? On stage the pin lies opposite a standing stone constructed out of computer circuits. Between them, George tells us, lies a sea of uncertainty which he will navigate with the help of a spiral compass, his ukulele, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, and a few quotes from Robert Burns and Daniel Defoe.

This delightful piece of theatre was conceived in a partnership of youth and experience. The 75-year-old Wyllie teamed up with Glasgow Art School graduate David Michael Clarke whose slide performance work he had seen and instantly taken to. The relationship is pleasantly perverse. Wyllie leaps between his sculptural creations like a child while Clarke maintains a circumspection on the sidelines. When Wyllie comes up with a gleeful solution Clarke rebuffs it with a sombre query.

The result is an idiosyncratic, free-flowing, thought-provoking performance about everything from the nature of stone ('Solidified light') to the lunacy of capitalism. On the first night, however, came even more of a surprise. Another elderly scion of Scotland's artistic anti-establishment appeared: it was Richard Demarco complaining about the Scottish Arts Council, explaining art was about experiment and failure and, declaring the Edinburgh Festival has had its day, and Mayfest should forget its recent bad press and take on the mantle of great experiment. Wow. Could this have been the meaning of the safety pin?"

Working with George Wyllie
Fringe, Edinburgh (1997)
Sailor's Song

George Wyllie Education Initiative

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