The Summer Exhibition at the Grilli Gallery, Edinburgh: a joyful expression of flowers, femininity, seashore and sunshine.

Summer Exhibition now open at the Grilli Gallery, Dundas Street

This is a most inspirational selection of paintings to celebrate summer with a relaxed sense of freedom. – which is just what we all need to experience at this time.

Marion Drummond, Joan Gillespie, David Smith and Muriel Barclay, who regularly show at the Grilli Gallery, bring together a well curated, complementary group of artists covering portraiture, still life, figurative work and landscapes.

As you step inside the gallery, the first painting on the left hand wall is a charming illustration of two young women, dressed in pretty sun-dresses and clinking their coupes of champagne; they appear to be sitting outside, smiling so intently at each other as if they have not met for a long while – indeed the title is Remember That.

Remember That, Muriel Barclay

Muriel Barclay is influenced by such artists as Manet, Degas, Matisse, as well as portrait photography by Testino, Lee Miller and Diane Arbus.  Like a fashion shot, such delightful detail here from the elegant clothes, loose strands of hair, soft pink blush on the girls’ cheeks and manicured crimson nails. Imagine the personal narrative of these friends or sisters, behind the astute observation of their genuine joy, capturing this moment, as if through the lens of a camera.

Dance Class at L’Opera, Edgar Degas (detail, 1872)

Like Edgar Degas, the romantic world of ballet is also dramatised by Barclay to reflect the classic style,  movement and energy.  Before Class shows a glimpse of the dedication and tireless training to ensure perfection in every step, poise and posture.

Before Class, Muriel Barclay

Their gleaming, glowing skin and stretched, taut muscles express the physical work-out at the Barre.  This is just one of a series illustrating dance and music performance, with a focus on graceful gestures from fingers to pointed feet, the quiet concentration of creativity.

Private Cello, Muriel Barclay

A sublime selection of floral paintings by the inimitable Marion Drummond, PAI, with blossoming roses and posies in porcelain jugs and glass vases.  Pink Roses is simply mesmerising, each thickly painted petal shimmers in shades of strawberries and cream, with the shaft of sunlight reflected in the glass jug.

Pink Roses, Marion Drummond, PAI

I  would probably describe myself as a representational artist and my focus is on light. My subject matter is always real and studied; number of petals of any flower observed.  I used to paint with a knife but now tend to work quickly with fingers and rags, I sculpt the paint, feeling my way and mixing on the board for speed and spontaneity.  I cannot feel anything like the same excitement when working with brushes.” Marion Drummond, PAI

A gentle palette of yellow and green is beautifully crafted in Narcissus, again with subtle luminosity, all part of her distinctive, masterly technique.

Narcissus, Marion Drummond, PAI

Happy Flowers is a stunningly realistic Still Life with lemon and orange to give perspective; such vivid colours and texture contrasting the lush green leaves with the fragility of soft petals.   These botanical paintings would certainly bring a virtual floral scent to your home year round.

Happy Flowers, Marion Drummond, PAI

Many years of hill walking, mountaineering and rock climbing in the Highlands has instilled David Smith, RSW, a passion for nature and outdoor life.  After travelling around with sketch pad in hand to paint en plein air, here are several land and seascapes from the Isle of Lewis to the South of France.

David Smith, RSW – painting “en plein air”

A charming image is of a Hebridean Fisherman, wrapped up in yellow oilskins beside the trawler on a pier, checks his bulging fishing net – you can almost smell the salt sea air.  Also most atmospheric is The North East Coast,  with its wild grass and seaweed covered shore line, a curving row of cottages, reminiscent of Joan Eardley’s beloved Catterline.

The North Sea Coast, David Smith, RSW

The theme of fishing is also used in meticulously crafted compositions, such as Mackerel and Fruit, juxtaposing a shiny green-scaled fish with a few purple plums on a carved wooden table.    All that’s missing is a recipe – oily fish and sweet juicy fruit would be so healthy and delicious.

Mackerel and Fruit, David Smith, RSW

Elsewhere, if you are a lover of seafood, a painting of a large red Lobster will make your mouth water.

From a turquoise-tinted Cote d’Azur, in Canal du Midi, Argens,  take a trip to another tranquil scene, Mountain Villages which has a more abstract structure, a patchwork of pointillist fields around a cluster of red tile rooftops. (see image below).

Joan Gillespie studied with Alberto Morrocco at Duncan of Jordanstone and then Sir Robin Philipson at the ECA, becoming inspired by the Scottish Colourists and the masters of Fauvism – Derain, Matisse and Cezanne.  She is renowned for her iconic portraits and floral studies with impressionist flair.

Yellow Tulips, Joan Gillespie

Take time to absorb the colour and decorative design in Yellow Tulips, a painterly block pattern with a touch of Peploe-esque vision of a decorative domestic scene; perfect colour palette and tonal harmony.

There is so much in these mere objects, flowers, leaves, jugs, what not – colours, form, relation. I can never see mystery coming to an end’. Samuel John Peploe, 1929  (1871-1935)

Still Life with Tulips, Samuel Peploe (c. 1930, Art Gallery and Museum, Kelvingrove, Glasgow)

Here too are Joan’s fresh-faced portraits defining the essence of modern femininity with an independent strength of character.

“In the Garden Room” illustrates the cool, calm pose of a young woman, simply defined, akin to a quickly drafted sketch with just a couple of lines to depict her brows, nose and eyes, sitting in quiet contemplation.

In the Garden Room, Joan Gillespie

Yet there is such depth of dramatic mood here, with the bold, black outline of her figure, clothes, chair and plants, a vivid blend of blue, pink, green, gold.  Is that a slight smile playing around her raspberry-red cupid bow lips.?   As if day dreaming, this is an evocative, serene composition.

Other beguiling figurative studies of women here too, reclining, resting, each lost in their own thoughts and solitude.   Little Nude is also a delicate, intimate scene, the model’s head hidden beneath a large black hat, and curled up in the foetal position, she seems to be hiding from the world.

Little Nude, Joan Gillespie

Vivacious colour, decorative detail and an enriching sense of imagination flow through these paintings of people and places, each with its own intriguing backround story. This is a joyful expression of sunshine and seashore, flowers and womanhood to celebrate the magic of Midsummer days.

Grilli Gallery

Summer Exhibition, 13 June to 18 July, 2020

20 a Dundas Street,  Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

Open at present by appointment only.  View the exhibition on line

The gallery will open from 29 June, with restrictions on visitor numbers for health and safety.  

Email:            Telephone: 07876 013 013

Diary dates: 

“Edinburgh Festival-time” Solo Exhibition

Jack Morrocco DA FRSA

25 July to 29 August 2020

Mountain Villages, David Smith, RSW

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About vivdevlin

I am an international travel writer, specialising in luxury travel, hotels, restaurants, city guides, cruises, islands, train and literary-inspired journeys. I review dance and theatre, Arts Festivals and love the visual arts. I have just experienced an epic voyage, circumnavigating the globe, following in the wake of Captain Cook, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson.

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