|ALL CHANGE - The List Magazine|
|There’s nothing like a death threat to kick start a career. Colin Greenslade got ‘em in spades when a piece in last year’s undergraduate show, Mickey’s Taliban Adventures, whipped up a worldwide frenzy of anger. The Royal Scottish Academy’s website got over 430,000 hits in ten days and FHM dedicated a page to the ‘scandal’. Greenslade had just started in his newly created post, designed to shake off the Academy’s stuffy image and revitalise its dedication to new contemporary artists. A job well done, then. It was an art scandal to rival the Royal Academy’s own Sensation.
But when the dust settled and Greenslade could stop checking the post for explosives, the real job of taking the Royal Scottish Academy into the future began. ‘The RSA had a period where they looked to reposition themselves after the refurbishment,’ says Greenslade. ‘What do we do with that space? We saw the need for a permanent temporary exhibition space and realised that we had such a good grounding in exhibitions.’
As well as bringing Greenslade in from Peacock Arts in Aberdeen, the RSA also took on a whole new bunch of staff. ‘The staff changed quite radically. Basically it was mainly admin positions before and there was a need for more staff – young staff. It changed the dynamic’ he says.
This new dynamic is clear when you look at the RSA’s current and forthcoming programme. For the first time ever film work is showing in their current exhibition Darkspace, and then following hot on its heels, Blind Sight is a collaboration between visuals and sound. For two weeks the gallery will become a walk-in jukebox with 50 Scottish and Finnish artists displaying CD cover designs and corresponding tracks.
There’s a nice tension between the rapid turnover of new exploratory projects in the downstairs galleries and the weighty Titians sitting above. Greenslade sees the pull of gravitas upstairs and along the corridor as working very much in their favour. ‘The Playfair Link is a tourist attraction. It’s opened up a whole new audience. People are just so nosy they come and have a look. It’s good because we want to make art in Edinburgh much more accessible and get as many people seeing it as possible.’
The RSA gives out £200,000 annually in grants, residencies and scholarships. Greenslade is keen that the fruits of those opportunities are given the chance to be seen. ‘The Academy has always been looking at new talent but not had the opportunity to shout about it,’ he says. Its idea is to get lots out there and get it seen quickly and cheaply. ‘For the most part we want people to engage – we can do exhibitions on a shoestring,’ he says.
The gallery is carving out a niche that is quite different to its neighbours the National Galleries, which Greenslade describes as ‘very established – the good, the great and the deid’ and commercial galleries. ‘We have the opportunity to be quite unique,’ he says. ‘We don’t have house artists to promote – there’s a huge age and disciplinary range. ‘
It’s a good position to be in and while the big fireworks of Playfair and Old Masters fade into the autumn air, a quieter but no less radical revolution rumbles on beneath.
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