Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh – Kirsty Wither, John Mackechnie, Gill Tyson: The natural world with an evocation of tranquility
“The Open Eye is cool, elegant yet welcoming and warm. The staff are knowledgeable and friendly. The exhibitions are almost always fascinating and carefully curated, with a good range of predominantly Scottish artists ……. well worth a visit. ..” Art lover’s review, 2014.
Visiting the Open Eye is always an exciting, inspiring and enticing artistic experience. Located on the ground floor of a Georgian townhouse at the corner of Abercomby Place, the grand, flagstoned, pillared hallway, leads off into spacious, light-filled white-walled salons.
Founded 35 years ago, the gallery promotes young, emerging talent, as well as presenting renowned Scottish artists, British, European and American printmakers, complemented by graceful displays of jewellery, ceramics and sculpture.
This current exhibition running from 20th February – 7th March, 2016, brings together a diverse trio of artists who seek to capture the beauty of our natural world, sharing an evocative sense of tranquility.
To brighten a winter’s day, take a wander around Kirsty Wither’s fruit bowls and colourful bunch of floral studies with a flourish of pink, coral, crimson red, as if haphazardly arranged in white shapely vases; soft petals seem to float in the air, scattering in a free-flowing movement on to a table.
Colour and texture are eminent too in her atmospheric landscapes – the open countryside, distant hills, under the Italian sun or winter-snow light.
Wither also effortlessly switches to figurative scenes with her Giacometti-styled female nudes, slender sculptural shapes posing in a shadowy surreal setting.
Kirsty Wither, Silvery Sea
In the room across the hallway, immerse yourself in a world of amazing reflective light. John Mackechnie is one of the UK’s leading printmakers (Director of Glasgow Print Studio), and this selection of work is entitled Parallel Lines.
Stand in front of “Road to the Isles”, for instance, and imagine you are on a beach, the shallow sea water lapping around your bare feet, soft sand beneath your toes. The mesmerising clarity of this stunning image is based on photographs along the coastline between Arisaig and Mallaig.
Mackechnie also captures with an extraordinary abstract realism, the modern architectural design of skyscraper buildings, with their uniform grids, blocks and parallel lines of luminous glass and shining steel. As well as screenprints, graphic visuals are also created on Perspex with dynamic and dazzling 3D effect.
In the Print Room. Salt Stars is a series of stone lithographs by Gill Tyson. She is inspired by off-the-beaten-track remote places, and lives in Morvern on the Lochaber peninsula: “In our house between a river and the sea I was struck by the important role of the night skies: all those stars and the brightness of a full moon on the water, almost as light as a west coast day.”
Her various lithographic and screenprint techniques are meticulous processes, grinding and preparing the stone, composing a picture in gradual stages using hand drawn marks, like a slow form of painting. Seawater is used as a wash, where grains of salt become virtually imbedded in images of the night sky and wild Highland environment.
These deceptively simple, sketchy scenes, such as “Before the Storm” and “Crossing Over”, show the perspective of where land meets sea, isolated places of natural beauty. There’s a dreamlike quality as you wander around these minimalist, monochrome prints. “Fishing” is delicately designed as if with thin pen-strokes akin to Asian calligraphy.
This imaginatively-curated exhibition takes you on a delightful, painterly journey through the eyes of these three artists – so catch it if you can before 7th March.
As well as a rolling programme of selected artists each month, the Open Eye also showcases established gallery artists, including John Bellany, Chris Bushe, Alberto and Leon Morocco, Barbara Rae, David Schofield, Carola Gordon, David Forster, Henry Fraser, et al.
The Print Room has a rolling programme of work including Picasso, Miro, Chagall, Pasmore, William Scott, Paolozzi, Hockney, Bruce McLean, John Byrne, Pat Douthwaite, Jonathan Gibbs and other modern masters.
The Open Eye Gallery,
34 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh EH3 6QE
tel. 0131 557 1020