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With every arts festival these days billing itself as "the biggestthe besta unique opportunity" (and sometimes all three), it's a relief to come across one that, while using all those phrases in its publicity material, doesn't take itself too seriously.

The Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Visual Art (Gi for short), first held in 2004 and now established as a bi-annual event, launches today with a core two-week programme of 40 exhibitions across 34 venues in the city.

Highlights of the festival, whose headquarters are at the CCA in Sauchiehall Street, include a solo exhibition of new work by Jim Lambie at the Gallery of Modern Art, featuring one of his famous stripy floors, and a show of lovely, whimsical paintings, dating from the 1970s, by Alasdair Gray at the Sorcha Dallas Gallery in the Saltmarket.

The CCA will premiere a film of Didier Pasquette's high-wire walk between the Red Road tower blocks last year; a series of UFO-like inflatable sculptures will be popping up in random locations around the city centre; and the laid-back Caravan Gallery will trundle along to the festival with a show of Glasgow photographs commissioned by Malcolm Dickson of Street Level, Trongate.

Malcolm's recommendations for the festival include the quirky architectural models of Calum Stirling in the main hall of the Mitchell Library and the work of Stephen Hurrel at the Tramway, featuring the sounds of tectonic plates shifting beneath the earth's surface.

Festival taster tours are available at the weekends, the Apple store in Buchanan Street is hosting Artists Technology talks and there are workshops for children and visits to studios at the Glasgow School of Art.

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