Julie Dumbarton & Kelly-Anne Cairns @ The Torrance Gallery: vibrant, dramatic landscapes and poignant, peaceful portraits.
When it first opened in 1970, The Torrance Gallery was the only contemporary art gallery on Dundas Street. Nearly 50 years on, this is the address for the crème de la crème of the city’s independent galleries. Fiona McCrindle, the owner of the Edinburgh Drawing School, has recently taken over the baton to preserve the legacy of this New Town gallery.
Year round, there is a regularly changing showcase of a diverse range of artists with either solo, duo or mixed exhibitions, as well as ceramics, crafts and jewellery. The current exhibition brings together land and seascapes by Julie Dumbarton with portraits and life drawings by Kelly-Anne Cairns – a contrast of genres but sharing a bold, colourful expression.
Posed and poised, Kelly-Anne captures a genuine sense of character in her series of portraits of young women, each so natural and relaxed as if in quiet contemplation.
With titles such as Sunday, Forget-me-not and Promise, these are like snapshots, a moment in time, with an underlying dark, dramatic mood in their perceived sadness and solitude. What are they thinking, who are they thinking of? Their facial expressions give little away.
Yellow is a dominant colour together with a recurring motif of birds, (especially swallows) and flowers. A stunning self portrait, “To Belong,” features Kelly-Anne in a pretty bird print frock, eyes closed as of in meditation. She paints herself with the use of a mirror, so this is a reflection, as she sees herself.
Several gallery visitors on the opening day suggested that Kelly-Anne should design this as a dress material. Well, fashion is all about beautiful, wearable art!.
The domestic settings of a home are exquisitely brought to life through richly patterned fabrics, cushions and wallpaper backdrop within which we have a glimpse of an interior space, both physical and personal.
This most evocative image, entitled “Drifting” focuses on a girl falling asleep on a bed, her hands drooped down over a blue sheet, which is symbolically dripping down the canvas. As a voyeur of this intimate scene, we cannot help but be drawn into her private, secret dreamland.
Most impressive too is a series of black ink sketches, “All the Young Nudes,” four exquisitely composed figures. There is a delicate touch here in the fine, flowing representation of the soft, youthful, rounded contours of the slender female body; these clearly emphasise Kelly-Anne’s masterly talent at the classic artistry of life drawing.
‘I love to recreate subtle skin tones in oil paint and manipulate the model’s pose to create an atmosphere and elusive narratives within the composition. I am inspired by the human form, capturing the flowing lines and layers of muscles, tendons, and skin, capturing and suggesting emotions through body language.” Kelly-Anne Cairns
Julie Dumbarton lives in Langholm and the wild natural expanse of the Scottish countryside is central to her work. Her dramatic, vibrant colourful land and seascapes enhances and exaggerates the rich hues of flowers, heather hills and sunsets.
A red sky at night, a shepherd’s delight – here the clouds burst with a flurry of fireworks in shades of gold, crimson and salmon pink. Through thick brushstrokes, the tone and texture gives a multi-layered surface and depth to the perspective.
These luminous landscapes clearly bridge the gap between realistic views and bold, brash expressionism. The swirling water in “Waves” depicts both the rising, rolling sea as well as a row of whitewashed cottages on the shoreline beneath the calm, cool golden embers of an evening sky.
With painterly precision, a dark, melancholic mood pervades this seascape of “Orkney”: with this whirlwind of yellow, coral and mauve clouds, there is such hidden beauty in this wild, unspoilt beach scene.
Moving over even more to the complete abstract, “Autumn Waterlilies” is a stunning, surreal composition where a scattering of white petals can just be glimpsed within a flurry of pink, blue and green. A most attractive floral design which would be ideal for fabrics and decorative designs.
“I like to explore the same themes and images, the tension between abstraction and representation. I’m obsessed with colour, and strive to show the subtle details that we all see but often go unnoticed. As a landscape artist, I endeavour to inspire and nurture our love of the natural world.” Julie Dumbarton
The Torrance Gallery
Julie Dumbarton & Kelly-Anne Cairns
31st August to 15th September, 2019
36 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6JN
Open: Mon-Fri, 11am-6pm; Sat, 10.30am-4pm.