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Pinkie Maclure, whose first solo exhibition is currently on at CCA in Glasgow, has forged a unique niche in the contemporary art firmament by working in stained glass. The deep religious and historical associations of the medium mean Maclure can have a lot of fun confounding expectations: yes, that really is a sneaker, a scotch pie, a Madonna-like figure whose headdress is made of botox needles.

Stained glass, originating in a time when many people were illiterate, was all about communication, and Maclure uses it to talk about the subjects that exercise her, from consumerism and the environment to opioid addiction and the beauty industry. The medium, wrangled here with a high level of skill and attention to detail, lends itself to symbols and stories and seems to demand a certain clarity of message.

The central work in the show is The Soil, a room-sized installation evoking an abandoned chapel where ivy grows up the sides of the old pews and the wind whistles through the broken door. At one end is a resplendent stained-glass window featuring a woman gardener, hands clasped in a secular prayer, urinating on her compost heap (human urine being an ideal activator of compost). A soundscape of whispers, children’s voices and snatches of song adds to the atmosphere.

It’s both monumental and irreverent, elevating the humble pursuit of gardening while thumbing its nose at the grandiose history of the medium. While concerns about vanishing communities, climate change and damage done to topsoil by intensive farming are all present in this work, there is also a businesslike cheerfulness to the welly-wearing modern saint and her no-nonsense pursuit of her purpose.

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Susan Mansfield

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