Art Culture

Bernie Reid at Edinburgh Printmakers

Think surrealist. This was my first take, at least, of Bernie Reid’s Ornamental Breakdown exhibition currently showing at the Edinburgh Printmakers until the 16th March 2023.

Having never visited the gallery, I was pleasantly surprised. This renovated nineteenth-century factory is nestled along Dundee Street. The minimalist interior, complete with oversized glass windows and concrete flooring, cleverly mirrors the surrounding industrial aesthetic in Fountainbridge.

“Untitled (Rug) Stencilled Spraypaint on Slip Resistant Vinyl Flooring”, by Bernie Reid, photo by Alan Dimmick, 2021.

The spotlight of this exhibition is the medium of the stencil. Reid’s flattened designs, with their clear cut delineations and jagged edges, clearly reflect this concept. Just as Reid had intended, I double took upon approaching the Untitled (Rug). The tasselled edges act as an illusion and up close the tapestry entirely loses its three-dimensionality. It was never a rug, only ever a print. This shift in perspective plays into the idea of things not seeming what they really are, until you get up close. The placement of the rug to the back of the gallery is a clever decision, drawing the viewer in. This encourages the audience to actively interact with the space.

“Big Yellow Lips Newsprint Spraypaint on Newsprint Pasted to Wall”, by Bernie Reid, photo by Alan Dimmick, 2023.

Strangely enough, what stood out next to me was the different types of mounting style. Instead of conventional framing; metal screws, pins and adhesive alternated between the prints. The Newsprint series, featuring the Girl with Tassels Newsprint and Big Yellow Lips Newsprint, are noticeably slick with paste to the wall. These curatorial details were playful, in the best way. The whole exhibition felt inquisitive. If, you know, it is possible for a room to emit a ‘feeling’. But certainly, this showing does.

Apart from the Untitled (Rug), the twelve other works are figural. Entirely abstracted in form, they recall two-dimensional versions of Dada puppets. I was first drawn to the feature piece of the exhibition, Sports Sock Spraypaint on Slip Resistant Vinyl Flooring. The speckled blue background felt nostalgic, as though you would place it in a swimming pool interior. Nonetheless, it is the abstracted figure, with their flowing locks, hoisted sports sock and patterned torso who takes centre stage. 

“Figure with Sports Sock Spraypaint on Slip Resistant Vinyl Flooring”, by Bernie Reid, photo by Alan Dimmick, 2023.

Curiosity, dream-like, imaginative. These works are an escape from the real world, from the gritty and often grey outdoors at the moment.

I would highly recommend viewing this exhibition before it closes, and also to just generally pop down to Edinburgh Printmakers. It’s worth mentioning that the gallery, shop and studios are complemented with the snazzy vegan Holy Cow Lounge cafe!

Image Credits: All courtesy of Alan Dimmick, sourced from the press release package.