Glasgow International 2020

Treasure Hunting with the Artists Behind ‘Say What I Am Called’

by Imogen Harland, May 2nd, 2018

‘Say What I Am Called’ is a site-specific exhibition held in the glorious setting of Caledonia Free Church until 7 May. The artists involved organised a scavenger hunt to accompany the show and Imogen Harland went along. Here, she blogs about the experience.

From the 'Say What I am Called' exhibition From the ‘Say What I Am Called’ exhibition. Photo: Yvonne Zhang

On Saturday 28 April, the creators of the ‘Say What I Am Called’ exhibition
(Bryony Rose, Frank Polatch, George Ridgway, Jessie Whiteley, Lewis Prosser, Lilian Ptáček, Lizzie Watts and Megan Jones) hosted an “evening of treasure hunting, code-breaking play”.

The scavenger hunt started at the site of their exhibition, Caledonia Road Church in Laurieston. After a  fire in 1965, only the chancel of the church, with its distinctive Greek influences, remains. What was the nave is now a healing garden, used by the charity Freedom from Torture.

The title ‘Say What I Am Called’ is based on the oldest collection of riddles in Western Europe, and we would be led on the treasure hunt by riddles hidden around the local area.

From the 'Say What I am Called' exhibition From the ‘Say What I Am Called’ exhibition. Photo: Yvonne Zhang

We began in the garden, hunting for the first riddle, which was printed onto fluorescent paper. The answer to the riddle was roses, so we headed east, through New Gorbals, to the Gorbals Rose Garden. The Gorbals Rose Garden is a burial site dating back to the 18th century, and is now home to a few graves, some apple trees and a tall bronze sculpture of a rose with a drooping head, a monument to the men of the Gorbals who died fighting in World War II.

The next riddle, buried at the base of the monument, pointed us towards the St. Francis Community Centre around the corner. The clue we found there directed us to the Southern Necropolis. We had determined that the clue was leading us to the grave of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, the Scottish architect whose eclectically designed buildings are situated around Glasgow and include the Caledonia Road Church.

At the SWIAC scavenger hunt At the SWIAC scavenger hunt. Photo: Lewis Prosser

Looking for Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s grave, we met a crew of local kids, aged from around 10 to 15, who were hanging out in the Necropolis. They were immediately intrigued by what we were doing and thought the hunt was hilarious. With an attitude that was half mockery and half genuine interest, they helped us look for Thomson’s grave and, having found the next luminous paper, read us out the riddle. This next riddle mentioned a bird and our new pals instantly thought of the small pavilion in Gorbals New Park, which is topped with a metal bird. “Keeps me away from the police,” was the reasoning for getting involved given by one kid, as he walked with us west on Caledonia Road, back towards the church.

During our short walk there we picked up more and more of the crew; it was like some kind of Pied Piper situation. We got quizzed on our Glasgow football team alliances and got propositioned with drinking contests and the fast and hard banter between them kept us laughing, even more so when it was directed at us.

Reaching the pavilion, only two of the kids were still enthusiastic about the treasure hunt; the others had lost interest and gone back to the Necropolis. We were told that the treasure was buried somewhere close by, and the two kids got to work straight away, hunting under the rocks. When the treasure of two hand-painted 3D tiles was found, our two new friends were the most excited out of all of us and we took a group photo before they legged it, with their treasure held above their heads.

Read more about ‘Say What I Am Called’

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Glasgow international 2018