Solo Performance, Exhibition by Laura Gill, Whitespace Gallery, Edinburgh
Laura Gill graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2011 with MA (Hons) Fine Art. In this exhibition, Solo Performance, her acrylic paintings, ink drawings and giclee prints specialise in figurative work to capture the human body as expressed through the media of music, dance and physical movement.
Her Degree Dissertation was on the Scottish Artist J. D Fergusson (1874 – 1961), whose broad repertoire covered life drawing, portraiture and vivaciously bold landscapes, as a key member of the Scottish Colourists.
In 1907 Fergusson settled in Paris, joining the flourishing and pioneering community of Impressionist artists including Picasso, Matisse and Derain. Portraits of women and nude studies had always been his subject matter but in 1909, a performance of Les Ballet Russes caught his imagination to combine his passion for the feminine figure, motion and dance, with his dramatic use of colour and light as seen here in Les Eus, 1910. And then a chance meeting with the 22-year old English dancer, Margaret Morris, led to work with Margaret’s dance company where he perfected his vision of feminine sensuality and the wild freedom of modern dance. This was a turning point in his life, when the expansiveness of this theme in his art took over and, as lifelong partners, their careers become intricately intertwined.
Laura Gill is clearly inspired by her academic study of Fergusson’s work, in developing her own unique, simple, abstract figures which capture a moment in time, a pause in the flow of dance steps and music.
In her fine selection of paintings are violinists and harpists with their bows slicing on strings, ballerinas “en pointe,” jugglers, an acrobatic handstand and a humorous homage to Vettriano’s The Singing Butler waltzing on a beach, in a giclee print, “Umbrellas at Dusk”.
The classic cartoon-like technique of overlayed figures neatly reflect the movement of legs, arms and the rotating spin of a dancer. Ink drawings are delicate sketches, just a few broad, Fergusson-esque lines on paper, but equally show muscular physicality, energy and elegant poise. There’s a powerful sense of shifting shapes and meticulous timed rhythm in the concentration of these performers on stage.
To vary the theme, here too is an acrylic work, “Chasing Waves”, five yachts with billowing sails – you can almost feel the wind blowing over the beach; but unfortunately, the group of people on the shore distract the eye from this evocative blue-tinted seascape, which in itself should be subject.
Laura certainly has a talent in portraying the intimate, passionate world of the performer, from circus to contemporary dance, which is her forte. In order to focus and enhance her stylistic method, it would be a wonderful opportunity if she were able to be offered the role of Artist in Residence with Scottish Ballet, for instance, or at Dance Base. This would be a most pertinent tribute to the joint artistic legacy of J. D. Fergusson and Margaret Morris.
Laura Gill Artwork – Solo Performance
Whitespace Gallery, 25 Howe Street, Edinburgh.
2nd to 7th July, 2015.