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26 Apr 2018

‘Cabinet Interventions’ - an exhibition at Pollok House

A group of people stand with their backs to the camera, looking out across the parterre garden at Pollok House.
Cabinet Interventions at Pollok House, photograph by Tine Bek, 2017–2018
Part of Glasgow International 2018, Pollok House is the venue for a collaboration between 10 artists and the Trust, until Monday 7 May.

Update | March 2024: Pollok House is now closed for approximately two years to facilitate the second phase of a £4 million programme of investment led by Glasgow City Council. The works will comprise roof and general building fabric repairs.


The exhibition Cabinet Interventions interrogates the role of material culture in defining place. In post-Brexit Scotland, how might often-contested identities and histories be articulated through artist practice in institutions such as the Trust?

In 2017 the artists spent time in residence at Pollok House, using diverse tactics to explore the cultural, political, historical, ecological and sensorial context of the site. This exhibition draws upon that research and dialogue to present original sound, installation, text and performance within and around the house.

Ruth Barker shares a performance intervention Fings ain’t what they used to be (reprise).

A black and white photo of a child's arm is super-imposed over an NHS Scotland poster promoting breastfeeding.
Feedgood Factor no. 8, Ruth Barker, 2018

Susan Brind & Jim Harold respond to John Stirling Maxwell’s passion for forestry with a photographic and sculptural proposition Planting by the book.

Jasper Coppes is installing 13 litres of Sitka spruce pollen throughout the interior of Pollok House for A sunny day in Sitka / A somber day in Sitka.

Alan Currall responds to the mirrors and portraits in the house with Reflections on family portrait with self-portrait, which plays with ideas of self-representation, vanity and time travel.

Sarah Forrest has created a fictional text A cheek, the side of a nose, the white of an eye, the curve of an ear.

Shona Macnaughton will be presenting The House Breaker, a series of performances within the Cedar Room.

Shauna McMullan has designed a 45-minute guided tour of a selection of female portraits in the house’s collection, titled I gladly strained my eyes to follow you, with accompanying texts by invited writers.

Duncan Marquiss presents Buzzard Feedback, a sound work of buzzard calls played from a car parked at the front of the house.

Joanna Peace is showing a series of photographic lightboxes and a moving image work, which together tell the story What kinds of times are these (watching the fire from her garden).

Pink roses with browning petals grow against a pebbledash wall.
What kinds of times are these (watching the fire from her garden), Joanna Peace, 2017–2018

Cabinet Interventions is a response to the particular nature of its site: an Edwardian country home, managed by the Trust, with a historically significant, international collection of art and artefacts on the edge of Glasgow.

Sir John Stirling Maxwell, former owner of Pollok House, was also a founding member of the Trust:

‘The National Trust for Scotland serves the nation as a cabinet into which it can put some of its valuable things, where they will be perfectly safe for all time, and where they are open to be seen and enjoyed by everyone.’

What art and artefacts might a contemporary ‘national cabinet’ contain? How could the history layered within the ‘cabinet’ of Pollok House inform the development and articulation of a body of artworks? How might this cabinet be adapted to accommodate the immaterial as well as the material of contemporary fine art practice? How do we understand value and validity in relation to this new collection of artworks among an historic collection? Will the project’s ‘cabinet interventions’ be ‘perfectly safe for all time’?

This project has received support from the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Glasgow School of Art.