A Day Down a Goldmine

‘A Day Down a Goldmine’

Artist and curator, Willie Sutherland speaks at the ‘George Wyllie: A Day Down a Goldmine’ exhibition.

Willie is an artist currently based out of a unit in Scarlow St, procured by Hammond Associates, and is working as a curator.

Glasgow Print Studio is delighted to present A Day Down a Goldmine, an exhibition of rarely seen works on paper by the late George Wyllie (1921 – 2012). The exhibition is being held at Glasgow Print Studio, Ground Floor Gallery, and runs May 5th to May 27th 2023.

A brief history of George Wyllie:

Born in Glasgow on the 31st December 1921, George Ralston Wyllie was a performer and musician from an early age but for the majority of his adult life, he worked as a Customs and Excise officer in Ayrshire, Northern Ireland and Greenock.

On leaving school, he trained as an engineer with the Post Office before serving with the Royal Navy, from 1942 to 1946.

A Day Down a Goldmine began as an installation consisting of ‘humorous sculpture with a deeply serious vein running through it’ exhibited in 1982 at Glasgow’s Third Eye Centre. Taking a leaf out of Joseph Beuys’ book, and building on his own passion for performing, George had the idea of augmenting the exhibition with a theatrical experience.

First accompanied by Russell Hunter in 1982, it was performed again in 1984 with Bill Paterson at Watermans Art Centre, London and then went on to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1985 where it won a Fringe First Award. A Day Down a Goldmine then toured venues across Scotland. The last performance was with John Bett at Tramway during Glasgow’s reign as city of culture in 1990.

A surreal satire of the world’s banking systems, A Day Down a Goldmine’s theme was mankind’s never-ending pursuit of power through the accumulation of wealth, and it was George’s first real attempt to counteract what he saw as an absurdity with another absurdity.

‘An incorrect assumption leads to a false conclusion’ was the play’s refrain. In other words, if we fool ourselves with minor absurdities, what happens when there are really major issues to deal with?’

To accompany the performances, George produced a narrator’s book featuring illustrations based on the sculptures and the lyrics to the accompanying songs and proclamations. The pages for the book were created as a series of exquisite prints, produced at Peacock Printmakers, Aberdeen, between 1987 and 1989. Now, after more than three decades, these original prints are being exhibited together and offered for sale for the first time at Glasgow Print Studio.

The prints remained in George’s hands until they passed into the possession of his daughters, Louise and Elaine, at the time of his death in 2012.

They have not been seen by the public as a body of work for 35 years. Thanks to the Estate of George Wyllie, they have now been made available publicly for the first time, as fresh as the day George made them all these years ago.

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