Flying rabbits and human hair

4th April 1997 at 01:00
POOKIE AND THE ANIMAL SHELF

Collins Gallery, Glasgow until May 3

THE MULTIPLES STORE

Maclaurin Art Gallery, Ayr until May 11

RAW MATERIALS

Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery, Kirkcaldy until April 20

Adults, be warned: a "water feature" comprising babbling brook, pond and conveniently placed stepping stones, forms the centre piece of an exhibition for the three-plus age group at Strathclyde University's Collins Gallery in Glasgow, and if someone hasn't fallen into it by the time the show closes, it will be a miracle.

The pond with its woodland surround of grass, gnarled tree and flowers (all unashamedly fake) has been created to celebrate the career of 81-year-old Ivy Wallace, author and illustrator of the post-war children's books on flying rabbit Pookie and the Animal Shelf.

The books, which feature lots of elves in green clothing, miniature houses with lattice-work windows and toadstool dining tables, were relaunched in 1989 and now an animated film series has been made, soon to be broadcast.

As well as the pond, children will delight in a reading corner set with toadstool table, matching seats and all of Wallace's books; a video corner where the new film can be viewed, plus colouring-in sheets and quizzes geared to younger and older primary school pupils, all of whom are being invited to "invent a story about your own favourite toys and what they might get up to you when you are not around or asleep". Groups are asked to book before they visit.

Another exhibition which should appeal to children is the Claes Oldenburg, which is having its only Scottish showing at the Maclaurin Art Gallery in Ayr. This features 150 works by the highly influential American pop art sculptor who shot to fame in the 1960s with his intriguing soft sculptures of giant hamburgers and ice cream cones.

Here, in a show called The Multiples Store, Oldenburg (now aged 67 and still going strong) displays smaller sculptures that he reproduced many times, explaining: "The multiple object was for me the sculptor's solution to making a print."

The work includes a filled baked potato, a used tea bag (37 x 26 inches), wedding cake, bars of soap and, one of his most recent pieces, a New York-style pretzel. This stimulating show proves that real sculpture doesn't have to be either solemn or cast in bronze. It is accompanied by an excellent paperback catalogue, with jargon-free explanations of the work by Oldenburg himself.

A similarly unconventional show is Raw Materials at Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery. The theme is textiles, but this well-presented exhibition by 20 contemporary Scottish-based artists does feature not yards of printed cloth but a wide variety of work produced "through the medium of textiles andor the use of textile techniques".

Thus there is a wall hanging made from the kind of wire that electricians use, and a 15-foot length of silk which, through a painstaking process of folding and dying, has miraculously turned into a Scottish seascape. And there is a trio of dresses made from real, human hair.

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