Douglas Davies, RSW: Land and Seascapes through “Autumn – Winter – Spring” at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh
For Scottish artist, Douglas Davies, RSW, January 2017 began with an inspirational start when he won the Glasgow Art Club Award at the 136th annual exhibition of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour. The award winning painting of ‘Whinny Brae’ is a favourite place near his home in the Scottish Borders.
“Whinny Brae is part of our daily walk, the old drove road, in all seasons and in all weathers when trees have been felled, fields ploughed. It is constantly changing and the subject matter of many paintings over the years, very much my kind of Border landscape.”
Davies studied Ceramics and Glass design at Edinburgh College of Art, gaining Postgraduate and Travelling Scholarships. He lectured in ceramics at Glasgow School of Art from 1973 until becoming a full time artist and potter in 1986, soon after being elected a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour.
This exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, “Autumn – Winter – Spring” is a selection of landscapes (acrylic on paper and canvas) of the Scottish Borders, the Breton coast and South West France as well as delightful botanical paintings.
Take a time-travel trip through the seasons as you tour the tranquil open countryside, curving rivers and heather-draped hills around Biggar, Tweed Valley and Peebleshire.
A painting called simply “Winter” is an exquisite abstract scene blending tones of pure white, cream and buttermilk. It makes you feel as if you are standing outdoors in the crisp snow, chilled to the bone, which illustrates how authentic the bleak landscape is represented. “Melting Snows” is also a magical atmospheric view with glimpses of grass, trees, rock and the warm glint of coral sun amidst ice-covered hills.
“Rain Clouds” shows a distant grey streak on the horizon within a mass of billowing white over misty, low lying hills.
The colourful palette used for “Tweed Valley” is brilliantly evocative of the rich naturalistic shades of chestnut, bracken, blues and gold as a bold impression of this unspoilt rural landscape.
Davies captures a realistic sense of place through the year and by day and night, as observed in bright sunshine, dusk, nightfall and pale moonlight. Each painting is composed with differing tone and texture to reflect light and shade: “Drove Road” for instance, is created with thick brush strokes to create a patchwork of green and yellow fields with a sweeping expanse of sky.
With a more delicate, sketchy touch, “Grasses” is best viewed seen from across the gallery to see the true perspective with its pink tinted clouds and what appears to be windblown machair on a sandy beach.
The classic Still Life study of fruit, vegetables or flowers has always been a popular genre for both artist and art lover. Here are beautiful arrangements of tulips and anemones offering a freshly cut, blossoming bouquet for the walls of your home year round.
From Scotland travel over to the French coastline in a series of seascapes, “Breton Harbour” and the charming fishing port of Collioure, South West France. Matisse and Derain arrived here in 1905 where their work in the Mediterranean light was the birthplace of Fauvism. Nearly 20 years later Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret visited this region of Roussilon on holiday, but also loved it so much they decided to settle here,
“in this lovely rose-coloured land… with its warmth and its sun.”
And an interesting postscript. In 2007 Davies was given a prestigious placement at the first Charles Rennie Mackintosh Residency at Collioure, a month’s retreat to experiment and explore new creative directions. For a further eight years, two well established Scottish artists were invited to Collioure, but in 2015 the accommodation was unavailable and, due in part to lack of support from Creative Scotland, the French officials unfortunately, had to close the Residency programme. Let’s hope funding will be forthcoming in future to continue the CRM artist in residence scheme.
Fortunately for Douglas Davies, he was given the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Derain, Matisse and Mackintosh et al to work in this perfect painters’ paradise which continues to inspire him to this day – as well as his homeland, the Scottish Borders.
Douglas Davies, RSW – Exhibition, “Autumn – Winter – Spring”
The Dundas Street Gallery, 6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Saturday 16 September to Saturday 30 September. Daily 10.30am to 5pm (closed Sunday)