Derelict barracks’ time to shine as backdrop to art exhibit

Debbie Young is set to showcase Slow Clap as part of Offspace Offspace.

Glasgow: The exhibition will take place at the former Gallowgate Barracks site.
Glasgow: The exhibition will take place at the former Gallowgate Barracks site.

A Scots artist hopes her new exhibition will inspire a sense of freedom.

Debbie Young is set to showcase Slow Clap as part of Offspace Offspace, a mobile gallery space that will transform a former part of Gallowgate Barracks in Glasgow.

Speaking about the event, Young told STV News: “I hope to trigger a new thought in the viewers’ minds or inspire a sense of freedom.

“I think my work is quite upfront in that it sets a tone or atmosphere to communicate an idea or mentality.

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“This mentality – embedded in the work – of constant playfulness, joy, beauty, physicality of making, importance of imagination, hard work and surprising others – in my case the viewer – is for me the recipe of a life fulfilled.

“My hope is that these are communicated effectively and instil a more positive outlook on life.”

The exhibit, on Armour Street, will take place on Thursday between 6pm and 9pm.

A wall, which will serve as backdrop to the artwork, is formerly a part of Gallowgate Barracks where weapon and archery shows took place.

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The barracks were originally built in 1795 at a cost of £15,000, and could accommodate up to 1000 men.

Between 1796 and 1797, in response to threats of a general uprising in Scotland and the establishment of a Scottish Republic, mainly due to the Militia Act in which the government had passed a law conscripting able-bodied Scots males between 19 and 23-years-old for military service, the barracks played a central role in accommodating troops.

By the mid-19th century the buildings were in a dire condition. When new barracks were opened on Maryhill Road in 1872, Gallowgate fell into dereliction.

Both Young and fellow artist Wassili Widmer, who is behind Offspace Offspace, believe the wall itself “stands as a timely reminder in the current political climate; the retreating borders, the division and territorial impulses which human nature refuses to shake”.

However, it also stands as a “symbol of hope for the decay of hyper-masculine institutions”.

Prize-winning Young, who graduated from the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague in 2016, has been taught to take painting off the pedestal, be courageous and trust her intuition.

Eager to tap into a new audience through Offspace Offspace, Young added: “I’m always excited about creating work for exhibitions – each is a different puzzle to solve and provides me with new challenges in my practise.

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“Offspace Offspace is exciting specifically because of the limitations involved. Each artist is given the same ‘white cube’ standing box to work around – as well as the contrasting freedom to do as we wish with it, in an outdoors space.

“This outdoors factor is also exciting due to opening visual arts up to a new audience and perhaps taking away some of the apprehension regarding attending exhibitions.

“Art is for everyone so I’m thrilled about the format of Offspace Offspace to allow a further reach.”

The first Offspace Offspace exhibit earlier this year saw Laura McGlinchey turn a pile of trash into artistic treasure within Glasgow’s Crown Street.

Widmer, who chooses where the mobile displays will be held, described Young’s art as “creative, explorative and a bit cheeky”.

He added: “I’m very excited for this exhibition.

“I’m very curious how Debbie is going to combine the Offspace Offspace with the wall. Armour Street is a spot I pass by very often.

“It’s such an incredible authentic and interesting space, because the wall has so many weird details in it – like a socket for example – and an interesting history through its connection to the Gallowgate Barracks. It feels quite timeless.

“Debbie is an amazing creative artist and works with a lot of elements that match very good to this spot.

“She has a personal connection to the spot because the east-side is her home and she knows about the history of the barracks.

“This personal attachment, mixed with the incredible creative spirit of hers and a very unique location, are making me excited for the exhibition.”

To keep up-to-date with Offspace Offspace and further exhibitions, go to facebook.com/offspaceoffspace or instagram.com/offspace_offspace.


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