The beauty of the natural world as viewed by four Artists : Exhibition at The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
From its founding as Aitken Dott, ‘Gilders, Framers and Artists’ Colourmen’, on South St. David Street, the Scottish Gallery has continued the business as Contemporary Art Dealers for nearly 175 years. The palatial light-filled space on Dundas Street presents monthly exhibitions covering a select range of paintings, prints, ceramics, glass, jewellery, sculpture and silverware.
The May exhibition presents the work of a quartet of artists – the pioneering artist-explorer, Derrick Guild, Japanese ceramicist, Tsubusa Kato, superlative jeweller, Nel Linssen and the delicate watercolours of Angie Lewin.
Mother Figures is the first major solo show at the Scottish Gallery by Perth-born artist, Derrick Guild, who is internationally renowned from London to New York.
A few years ago, Guild had the opportunity to experience an extended visit to Ascension Island which lies south of the Equator in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Like a Garden of Eden, he was able to observe, like a latter-day Darwin, the curious range of plants and animals, far from their native Africa, Europe and South America.
An artist’s escape for a remote island life is not without precedent given Gauguin’s passion for the Marquesas islands – its women and seascapes – in the South Pacific.
Guild’s painstakingly detailed work is necessarily a lengthy artistic process. The viewer too needs time to study these remarkable paintings of flora and fauna based on exquisite animal and botanical drawings.
The cream on black background gives the appearance of stained, dry parchment, with the clear impression of rips, tears and dog-ear folds as if an ancient sheet of paper has now been unwrapped after many years.
Inside museum-style glass cases or hanging on the wall, there are also remarkable resin sculptures of fruit and vegetables – giant oranges, diamond studded parsnips and potatoes, and a leaf with pearl ear-rings.
With inspirational insight, Guild’s iconic art form both imitates and re-imagines his own view of the Origin of Species – a complex blend of naturalist authenticity and surreal wit.
Think Dali’s elephants and lobster telephone.
Nel Linssen’s 80th birthday is celebrated by a retrospective of her innovative, light as air, paper jewellery. Nel initially trained as a pattern cutter which led her to experiment with 3D paper crafts.
Here is a magical showcase of vintage and new necklaces and bracelets, handcrafted from ingeniously entwined paper discs: pure magic in design, texture and shimmering shades of light and colour.
Tsubusa Kato is showing his first solo show here, in collaboration with Sokyo Gallery, Kyoto, Japan. This is a cool, calming collection of porcelain entitled A World of White – smooth, snowy New Zealand clay crafted into slender vases, tiny bowls and plates. Kato’s decorative touch is the addition of a duck egg blue celadon glaze which looks as if it is still wet, dripping in a graceful flow down the side or centre of each delicate white creation.
And then next door into what I call the Garden room (from here you can step outside to see sculptures amongst the plants). Angie Lewin moves between town and country, from Edinburgh and Speyside; thus her sketchy-stylised watercolours illustrate both the Highland landscape of woodland, river and hills, as well as homely Still Life studies of vases of wild flowers on a kitchen table.
Across these four distinctive, delightful, contrasting exhibitions, the artists share a common theme, a tangible thread to express their vision of beauty, life and living in the natural world.
The Exhibition continues until 30 May, 2015.
The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ