The Virginia Gallery was created entirely by accident. Starting with a pop-up exhibition by painter Ivor Sexton in December 2010 in the basement beneath Luke & Jack, owners Ian and Drew were quickly approached by a variety of local artists to create a permanent exhibition space. Taking its name from the now long since demolished Virginia Galleries in the same street, and with the generous help of an army of volunteers and supporters, The Virginia Gallery has hosted an ever-changing collection of exhibitions by painters, photographers, sculptors, crafters, fashion designers, filmmakers and performers.
An ethos of supporting and exhibiting artists in all stages of their careers has continued from the start; with those who have never exhibited or worked with a gallery before, to those who have international recognition. In the spirit of the origins of the gallery, there has been no rule book or business model to follow, artists have been encouraged to support and advise one another, no art form has been held above or valued over another, and the gallery has continued to be open to suggestion and experimentation, whilst not taking itself too seriously. The gallery also remains deeply rooted in serving its community by supporting Glasgow festivals, charities and community organisations, and local artists’ collectives.
The result has been an ever-changing arts space, in every sense. By February this year the space has hosted, on average, 15 on-site exhibitions a year, while further consultancy and curatorships have created a series of pop-up exhibitions in other venues as diverse as The Lighthouse (Stand Up For Love) and Glasgow University (Stand Tall, Get Snapped: 30 people living with HIV).
The gallery has no paid staff members, no funding streams and no advertising budget: social media is the primary source of reaching out to an audience for future exhibitions and events. Alongside this is a constant and sometimes urgent desire to network audiences with new talent, and artists with future opportunities, and championing equalities, both in the sense of the recognised protected strands and in the sense of artists regardless of age, training or background. This ethos and a desire to increase access to art for everyone as a creative hub (a continuing homage to its name), is likely to drive the passions and direction of The Virginia Gallery in the coming years.
2014 is the first year where The Virginia Gallery is considering seeking out new funding sources to further bolster and diversify its approach. The programme of exhibitions for the coming months is still characteristically coming together. However, the main structure of exhibitions have been allocated.
until 21 February | “Ménage a trois” + PATCHWORK 8
in Association with Grains de Beauté
3 French photographers explore a post-feminist photographic-study of the female nude, with Aurélie Prissette, Pierre Joël, Anne-Sophie Jal.
14 February 3 – 7pm | PATCHWORK 8: Valentines Day Launch
This annual touring photographic exhibition from The Association Grains de Beaute features a collective of photographers from mainland Europe. The exhibition originates in Paris, comes to the The Virginia Gallery from Seville, and then moves on to other countries including Georgia.
Featured artists: Chérif B, Francis Barrier, German Blanco, Jésus Botaro, Philippe Clément, Anne-Sophie Jal, Pierre Joël, Dominique Mena-Dupont, Jean-Marc Millière, Franck Musset, Claude Ouvrard, Pauline Prénat, Aurélie Prissette, Véronique Witkowski.
24 February – 2 March | LGBT History Lessons: The Scene
Launch: Monday 24 February at 6.30pm
Curated by Historian Tommy Clarke
with additional material from The Mitchell Library, Our Story Scotland, LGBT Archive.
Have you ever wondered which pub used to be a church? Which venue has past links to an insurance company? A collection of little history lessons on some venues in Glasgow’s gay scene, past and present, giving a slightly different view to our local haunts.
Part of LGBT History Month Scotland 2014
8 – 28 March | Her Story
Launch: Friday 7 March 6-9pm (International Women’s Day)
An exhibition of drawings and paintings by Hazel Gore and Catriona Ruth Paterson.
Maiden or Mother, Virgin or Seductress, Goddess or Monster, Real or Fantasy: the image of women and their archetypes and stereotypes in Fairytales and Storytelling is explored and subverted in this exhibition of work by two Glasgow-based women mixing elements of both the traditional and modern in imaginary and recognisable nightmares and dreamscapes.
4 – 19 April | MAMA
Thomas Abercromby, and Little Book Transfers
Launch: Friday 4 April 2014 at 6.30pm
Exhibiting at The Virginia Gallery during Glasgow International Arts Festival 2014, contemporary artist Thomas Abercromby will be exhibiting his most recent work that deals with the issues of abandonment as a child. His practice has led him to create work concerned with the natural passage of time: a process that lets him engage in the expression of “universal emotions” with the viewer.
Little Book Transfers are an all-female collective of Visual Artists Hollie Russell, Nikki McGuigan and Mairi Hutchinson founded in July 2013. They collaborate harmoniously to create beautifully intricate murals. In the weeks leading up to MAMA they will begin a work in progress, decorating parts of the Virginia Gallery for a semi-permanent mural. During the launch of MAMA and into the exhibition run they will create a live visual performance by continuing to create a mural starting in one corner of the gallery that will grow to eventually counterpoint the work of Thomas Abercromby.
The Virginia Gallery continues to welcome contact from artists, crafts people, performers and creators, as well as businesses and organisations, as it continues to fill the programme for 2014-2015.