Viewpoints: Languid, luminous, lush landscapes of Scotland, Wales and Cornwall at the&Gallery, Edinburgh
As the British Isles unite together during this global crisis, the& Gallery, Edinburgh has brought together three artists from Scotland, Wales and England, who complement each other with vivid expressions of their personal sense of place.
Along with Brittany, Isle of Man and Ireland, these home nations share the ancient traditions of Celtic culture, heritage and language. As abstract landscape painters, Anna Somerville, Elfyn Lewis and David Mankin celebrate the natural outdoor world around them with inspirational vision.
Anna Somerville graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art in 2000, winning the Elizabeth Blackadder & John Houston Travel Award, which set her off on a very successful career. At her studio at Summerhall, Edinburgh, she works in mixed media – spray paint, ink, graphite, oil pastel – on paper, linen or canvas, and you can see, at a glance, the layering technique of colour with mesmerising effect.
Anna is constantly drawn to the seashore, such as Aqua Coast Scape, focussing on the distant horizon, the expanse of water beneath a cloudy sky, a slither of a sand dune and rocks. The streaking lines and layers blend various hues of colour together to create a marvellous mishmash of turquoise, emerald, orange, coral, pink, plum and damson.
With a bold use of colour and brash brushstrokes, there are occasional drips of paint adding texture and atmosphere, depicting perhaps, an approaching rainstorm. She describes her approach as instinctual, drawing from emotions rather than exploring any particular theme or narrative.
Around the gallery, there are also gloriously bright visions from dawn to dusk capturing the swiftly changing light as the sun slowly rises or quietly fades away.
Anna Somerville takes you on a journey to view tranquil scenes of mountains, meadows and lakes where you feel that you are there, in the open air, feeling the breeze with a scent of salty sea.
Elfyn Lewis grew up in Porthmadog, North Wales and now works in Cardiff, winning numerous awards including being named prestigious Welsh Artist of the Year 2010.
He likes to experiment and challenge his approach and technique. “Surfaces are layered with paint that overflows, dripping… until the upper layer explodes and transforms from a volcanic creation into a vivid landscape.”
Working with acrylic on board or canvas, these are certainly bold expressions of colour and light to portray a sense of place with fractured, fragmented structure: Amdiffyn, with its broad brush stroke streaks, is akin to viewing fabric fibres through a microscope.
This is such inventive crafted artwork, deconstructing the vision of a place down to its elements of materials and fluidity, such as Llangar with its swirling movement and shimmering light.
There is a dazzling use of colour here, smoothed and pared down to present a surreal image. Arwain, for instance, is reminiscent of a glowing sunset above a dark indigo sea, yet viewed through a partially obscured frosty window.
More realistic views too such as a diptych, Syrthio Mewn Cariad, which appears to be a craggy mountain as seen in the whiteout of winter and also in the green days of summer.
David Mankin lives in the far west corner of Cornwall where daily walks along the coast inspires his almost pure abstract land and seascapes. The natural world presents an ever-changing palette, tone and texture when expressing the sea-tide, clouds, sand, rocks, grass.
Sea-Distant Afternoon is such an evocative dreamlike image – you can imagine a warm summer day at the beach, the glare of the sun, sandcastles, the lapping of waves on the shore.
Several other cool and composed seascapes with soft subtle shades of azur, buttermilk and ochre. David is like a geologist in his manner of presenting the lines, space and shape of the coastal terrain. He describes his work as “ an energetic process of destruction and excavation, which mirrors the acts of nature on the landscape. I explore surface, colour, texture to form images which express my experiences in the Cornish landscape.”
Like a patchwork quilt, Timeless Land reflects farm field, woodland and cloudy sky in geometric blocks, with a series of what could be tractor marks, animal tracks and foot prints, the remnants of life and nature. The purity of cool colour and precise shapes creates a serene scene where sea meets the land in Invisible Shores.
This is just a quick whizz around the current Viewpoints exhibition at The & Gallery – so do take a longer browse around all these coolly composed, luminous, languid landscapes. This artwork will brighten your day …and would bring a splash of colour and quiet reflection to your home.
Home is where the Art is.
Viewpoints is on show at The& Gallery until 15 April, 2020
See the exhibition on line at the Virtual Gallery
http://www.andgallery.co.uk – artwork images
Vividly colourful, visual memories of the wider world by three artists at the Open Eye Gallery – with lovely wee pictures & jazzy jewellery too.
“Remember that art is good for the soul in these troubled times”
This is the message from the warm and welcoming Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh this week. It may have temporarily closed its doors but their current March exhibition is easily viewed on line.
More than just interior decor or bringing a splash of colour, the art we choose to hang on our walls, to view again and again every day, evokes a personal emotion and inspires our imagination. Art breathes life into a home. Art tells a story.
“….thousands of memories, of smells, of places, of little things that happened to us and which came back, unexpectedly, to remind us who we are.…. O Botswana, my country, my place.” From “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.” Alexander McCall Smith
Diane Rendle was born and raised in East Africa and then lived in Botswana, where she was immersed in the culture, language and heritage of the people. Like McCall Smith’s comical novels about Madame Precious Ramotswe, “Voices carried on the Wind” presents an enlightening view of the community – especially bold, beautiful women – in this lush natural environment.
Diane’s stunningly crafted, visual memories of people and place are complemented by charming poetic proverbs by Helen Freeman to tell a story about the life and experences of the characters. In the jungle, birds and animals rule the roost as wild cats glide gracefully through the bush.
“You Never Know What You Will Encounter” – Helen Freeman
When the leopard whispers to the woman, he says, “There’s a hurricane coming, wrap up, hunker down, hide yourself.”
She says, “But I’m strong enough” … and unwinds her Kanga.
The titles of Rendle’s richly-patterned images are translated into colloquial words of wisdom, both humorous and heart-warming.
“Burden Bearer – Don’t Carry the World on your Head” – Helen Freeman
“People like me hide beneath layers, and sacks and tins and bowls and packs they need not carry …..and some they definitely shouldn’t.
“The Sun Never Goes Down Without Some Happenings” – Helen Freeman
”Sedge grass purrs, crickets trill and whistle, the track meanders through shrubs and knolls,
Under sundown’s saffron shade, and he’s nearly home. Twilight percolates”.
This enchanting artistic collaboration between Diane and Helen is akin to Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book,” the illustrated stories of India he wrote for his young daughter. Likewise, these magical pictures and poetry should be published as an allegorical collection of tales set in East Africa.
Travel Tales from Italy and Scotland, Africa and India, “Themes Old and New” from Charles MacQueen who creates luminous, mixed media paintings as a brief snapshot of a moment in time and place. Like a photographer’s zoom lens, these are intimate, close-up images focussing on texture, colour and light.
Having visited the hill top Medieval town of Spoleto, Umbria myself many times, it is wonderful to ‘re-visit’ the Duomo in the central Piazza.
Here are several images to reflect the ancient stone arches and stained glass windows which preserve the dark, cool, mystical silence inside: so atmopheric in these shimmering, vivid colours of crimson, coral, gold and turquoise.
Instead of realistic representations, MacQueen is playful in creating abstract compositions such as a collage of fishing nets and lobster pots spotted on Scottish piers.
As he explains “Usually as with recent trips to Tunisia and Morocco it takes between six months to a year to digest the experiences.” All the senses are stimulated – the colour and scent of saffron and ginger in a Moroccan souk.
Sheila McInnes is also a keen observer of the natural world, the tranquil beauty of rolling hills, lochs, rivers, woodland and birds which “Greet the Sky.”
With light hearted wit, these are scenes from everyday life, as she says, ‘a mixture of the naïve, the personal, and the sophisticated.’
Reminiscent of a child’s story book, here are soaring seagulls, wide eyed owls and adorable dogs to make you smile.
Women are always happy with new jewellery to wear! Bronwen Gwillim crafts bright and colourful ear-rings, necklaces and bangles from waste plastic, flint stones and found objects during walks along the beach in Wales.
“I make wearable, sculptural jewellery from recycled materials. Mimicking the effects of the sea, I work their surfaces till they feel natural in the hand, like a treasured pebble.”
Pairs of ear-rings come in mismatched size, inspired by natural shapes of pebbles. This jewelllery is tactile to touch, delightful to the eye …and so reasonable for such unique, creatively crafted accessories.
Affordable art too with a choice of “On a Small Scale” miniature masterpieces by many of the gallery’s established artists and young talent – wee landscapes, abstracts, prints and portraits.
A fine selection of small Still Life artwork – ideal to brighten up the home from the kitchen to the lounge.
Browse through the Open Eye Gallery on line to be inspired and enriched by this collection of contemporary art, crafts and jewellery from the March exhibition.
Watch this space to find out about next month’s new showcase of art and artists to brighten our spirits and homes as we spring forward into April.
The Open Eye Gallery, 34 Abercomby Place, Edinburgh EH3 6QE
View the March exhibition on line – http://www.openeyegallery.co.uk
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Mackie – Spring Collection 2020 @ Robertson Fine Art, Edinburgh – a stunning, sensual. dreamlike vision of womanhood
The title of this exhibition may imply that this is a fashion show with a cool, composed catwalk of this year’s stylish frocks and accessories as we Spring forward out of the winter.
As a fine art photographer, Michelle Mackie (also known as Dolly through her social media followers), presents a series of glamorous glossy fashion shots on location – but these painterly portraits reveal an underlying narrative, as she explains, “recreating forgotten joys, the magic of fairytales, memories, dreams in an art form that evokes powerful emotions”.
This is an astute observation of the social and cultural role of women, from feminine beauty to the fantasy and fear of sexual expression. A sense of freedom is depicted through the flight of birds and fluttering butterflies.
“Tis just like a summer bird-cage in a garden:
The birds that are without despair to get in,
And the birds that are within despair and are,
In a consumption of fear they shall never get out”
The traditional notion of housewives is of being kept inside, a domestic goddess like a bird in a cage. (Fascinating fact – girls as “birds” is not just modern slang – from 1300, the term “burde” referred to a young maiden).
In “Entrapment II” the partially nude model draped in a shimmering mauve chiffon sarong, wears the birdcage as a hat. It’s an ironic and ambiguous message – is she really trapped and can only fantasise about escape, to fly away like a butterfly.?
Other women are also seen in a controlled situation: “Pulled in All Directions” is dramatically explicit, the girl’s arms spread out like a crucifix and pegged on a washing line.
With filmic quality, it’s a disturbing image in terms of being unwillingly tied down, but it’s also a provocative pose akin to handcuffs, – think: bondage scenes from “50 Shades of Grey.”
“I wonder if one day that,
You’ll say that, you care
If you say you love me madly,
I’ll gladly, be there
Like a puppet on a string ..”
In her bare feet, Sandie Shaw danced across the stage to win Eurovision 1967 with this bouncy song. It comes to mind when viewing “Puppet II” (shown above in the poster) and “Puppet” (below), where a girl is joyfully hopping in the long grass, her hair blowing in the wind – like an angel searching for her wings.
This is a dazzling and dynamic exhibition of work by Michelle, a self taught photographer and digital artist. Focusing her eye through the lens of her camera, she has the unique vision of a film director and the razor-sharp imagination of a storyteller.
These “portraits” involve a time consuming, innovative, creative process. Finding the locations, selecting models, sourcing props and costumes, it’s like movie making, directing theatre or a ballet – the scene setting, lighting, characters, atmosphere and dramatic mood to imagine a surreal, fantasy world. Every element is photographed separately and digitally added, layer by layer, followed by meticulous enhancement of colour and texture, just like an artist with a paintbrush and oils.
“Shedding Masks” would make a most effective illustration for the Sunday Times “Style” magazine or Vogue.
The juxtaposition of the glamorous crimson ballgown against the bleak, winter landscape is a brilliant composition. But this is not just a fashion shot – who is this vulnerable girl, shivering in the cold, holding a mask to her face – several masks – which hide her true, emotional self.
There is a recurring theme Michelle calls Dark Beauty to show how women share experiences of betrayal or a sense of lurking danger, wandering alone in isolated places. “Red Light” is an amazing portrayal – a delicously decadent, light-hearted take on Little Red Riding Hood, fleeing from the prowling wolves in the forest.
“I’m forever daydreaming, and I get to create some of what goes on in my busy little head for all to see” Michelle Mackie
The narrative behind the art here could have been presented as a bold, brash rant on gender inequality, patriarchy, misogyny, #MeToo, et al.
Instead this is a literary, witty, intelligent and deeply personal, feminist-feminine view of women’s lives today and thin line between sexual objectification and the freedom of sexual empowerment.
Just like beauty, our concept of truth and meaning is in the eye of the beholder so do visit Roberston Fine Art soon (or check out the website) to view these and many more stunning, sensual and utterly unique artwork in the Spring Collection by Michelle Mackie.
Robertson Fine Art
100 Hanover St, Edinburgh EH2 1DR
Tel. 0131 285 0695