Scotland’s cultural landscape is littered with arts magazines that seem to come and go with alarming regularity. The latest is Art North which is produced in Tongue. At some fifty pages and a cover price of £6.50 this welcome new quarterly bodes well for the future.
Its unique selling proposition, as delineated in Ian Mckay’s editorial, is that it is “a visual arts magazine from Scotland and the Far North” forging and strengthening links with countries in Scandinavia as well as in Iceland, Canada and others.
It’s nicely produced and well laid out. Some of the photographs are a little ‘muddy’ and the point size used for body copy might have some readers rubbing their eyes. Perhaps more portfolios of artists’ work (and where to see/buy it) is something that’s missing. While Britain’s departure from the EU is ever-imminent, the idea of exploring a cohort of northern nations seems a good move.
The magazine’s range of features in the first issue is commendably wide. A cover story on the Scottish islands of North Uist and Berneray is a timely reminder of work being done in these faraway outposts. Matthew Hollett’s insightful feature on the nature of “islandnesss” asks how art can “bridge the distance between far-flung solitudes”. Maria Huhmarniemi reflects on Arctic Art being about much more than just the “exotic north”, but environmental activism. And there’s an excellent piece of the importance of maestro Joseph Beuys.
Most of the writing is free of the pseudy, academic claptrap that often bedevils critical arts writing. Let’s hope the standard keeps up and readers respond.