The Aizle Collective of artists observe our human and natural world with imaginative, atmospheric vision @ Dundas Street Gallery.
Aizle: A Scottish word for a glowing hot ember; a spark. In the Philippines it means beauty.
This debut exhibition by five distinctly diverse, innovative artists presents a rather dazzling showcase, focussing on their experimental use of palette, pattern, texture and technique.
Inspired by the rural environment, Kirstine Drysdale captures the raw, physical elements in abstract land and seascapes. Incline seems to represent the geographical structure of a slice of hillside below a cloudy sky, through muted earthy, coral and tobacco browns with bright splashes of yellow, aqua and icy white.
Simply crafted in ink blots and stains is Tempest, a diamond-shaped kaleidoscope of lightening cracks and swirling storm with an iridescent glow. (see image below).
As if viewing through a microscope, Seaweed presents a translucent, fluid study of glistening water, slippery green foliage and lichen-wrapped stones in a shallow rock pool.
Kirstine also collaborates in art work with fellow Aizle artist, Rod Malloch, each taking turns to apply oil paint and cold wax, building up and blending the surface until they agree it’s finished. Craig means a rugged hill in Scots and Black Craig is pared back smoothly to a sheer veneer of the craggy rockface.
Kirriereoch Hill is a hill in the intriguingly named Range of the Awful Hand range in the Southern Uplands featuring a small, shallow, square shaped, freshwater trout loch, part of the Wood of Cree Nature Reserve. Their cool, composed landscape, beautifully shaped and shaded, is like an aerial bird’s eye view of the scene.
Having viewed the Paperworks exhibition during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe over recent years, Trevor Davies is a versatile artist, accomplished in figurative sketches, still life, abstract designs, paper craftwork and sculptured collage.
The Italian photographer, Tina Madotti moved to Mexico in 1923 to join Kahlo, Rivera et al, where she perfected poetic studies of the the political intellectuals and creative labour such as ‘Worker’s Hands’ (1927).
Trevor Davies pays tribute to this portrait in Time to Rest, a delicate sketch in oil of the gardener’s dusty, sunburnt hands clasped over the handle of a spade. The juxtaposition of the background frame – a broken wedge of weathered, paint-spattered driftwood – neatly evokes the imagined scene of Madotti’s snapshot moment as the old man takes a break from digging the ground in the midday sun.
Davies is fascinated by using salvaged objects, scraps and fragment traces of human activity: “ there’s something of the old, worn, used, discarded, things half-hidden, marks left behind newly discovered.”
Memories Contained is a charming sculptured piece featuring a row of tiny rolls of paper with printed text and handwritten notes crafted from found materials. To illustrate the meticulous collage effect of oil paint and salvaged wood is Autumn Rain, with its scraped shards of gold leaves against a murky grey sky. (see below).
With an abstract expressionist air of freedom, two Rothko-esque paintings, Light Air and Dark Air, express the simplified purity of monochrome pale and dark colours on canvas. But look closer.
Within a billowing buttercream cloud in Light Air, is a slender slice of lime amidst a flurry of thick flowing streaks revealing soft pink and grey layers beneath. Likewise Dark Air could depict a thunderstorm with its flash of light in a rain filled sky. A contrasting double act ideally purchased as a pair of minimalist masterpieces.
Ronald Binnie specialises in painting, photography and printmaking as well as undertaking professional academic work into the understanding of non-human species. He has also studied the extraordinary visual effect when flocks of starlings form a Murmuration, one of nature’s true spectacles seen during the winter months.
This phenomenon is illustrated in a dramatic triptych, Murmuration 1, with its swirling swarm of birds in an aerial dance across the sky in a constant shape-shifting, circular sweeping motion. While at a distance, the effect is a dark mass, each starling is just a tiny tick, exquisitely sketched in black graphite on white paper.
Do visit the gallery to see this mesmerising artwork up close and personal to see the fine detail.
There’s also a different series of starling cloud patterns, crafted in a trio of digital monotypes.
Adapting the iconic silhouette of the starling in flight, in Murmurations 111 Binnie has designed geometric black, grey and red crown shapes of the bird wings overlaid on the original graphite drawing as a monoprint. This motif is also used in traditional quilt making.
Ronald Binnie combines his ornithological knowledge of murmurations – an activity which takes place to confuse and intimidate predators – with the technique of drawing, printmaking and digital imagery, to explore connections between nature and culture. Sir David Attenborough would surely be impressed.!
Catherine Barnes pursues artistic experimentation through photography, collage, paintings and prints to document the landscape. Island features several perspectives of seashore and sky with moody light and three scenic views of Autumn Landscape over hill, river, field and woodland are in miniature detail.
Specialising in the mixed media of oil paint and cold wax to form a thick impasto surface, Rod Malloch captures the wild environment of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. All the ancient Gaelic place names are so poetic such as Muchairt, Smigeadail and Dhudhhaich. Loch Bharradail with its three rivers is located in a remote glen on Islay, simply illustrated as a patchwork pattern to denote the barren landscape.
Drolsay is a bleak but beautiful moorland with a fishing loch on Islay surrounded by low hills, viewed here by Malloch with his signature bold, colourful abstract style with a soft glow of light in the sky.
If there’s an overall theme in this exhibition, it’s about deconstructing realism of the natural world to express the pared down purity of shape, colour and light with imaginative, atmospheric vision. The Aizle Collective of artists complement each other with their own luminous, languid, dark and dramatic reflections on the passing of time within the peaceful permanence of place.
Aizle Artist Collective – Debut Exhibition,
Dundas Street Gallery, 6A Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Thursday 24 – Tuesday 29 June, 2021.
Open daily: 11am – 8pm. Tuesday 29 June: 11am to 4pm.
N.B. Do visit the Dundas Street Gallery to see this enticing showcase of affordable art with prices ranging from £55 to £480, as well as racks of other original paintings (unframed)
(Unfortunately there are no images available to illustrate the work of Catherine Barnes)
Italian food is probably the most famous and beloved around the world. In fact, there is no such thing as “Italian cuisine” because the country, spread around the long, curving peninsula, is divided into small states and every region has its own dialect, dishes, culture and traditions.
Think of fat Amalfi lemons, black truffle from Umbria, Risotto alla Milanese and Neapolitan pizza.
Families regularly gather to eat and drink together for simple suppers and special celebrations. Recipes from Nonna and Mamma are passed on down the generations treated with respect and passion, simplicity is key, sourcing fresh, seasonal ingredients. This is the way Italians eat.
If we cannot plan a visit to Spoleto or Sorrento just now, the good news is that Saporista, the speciality Mediterranean food company in the UK, has sourced a feast of authentic produce and ingredients.
Select from a hand-picked range of traditional, artisan ingredients – aperitivo snacks, pasta, vegetables, salsa, sauces, cheese and chocolate to create easy Italian meals at home.
Dinner is always a leisurely affair, starting with the Aperitivo hour – sip a glass of Prosecco, Aperol Spritz or a classic Negroni to entice the appetite.
Serve refreshing ice cold drinks with juicy olives and Taralli – shaped like baby bagels with the crumbly texture of a shortbread and dry taste of a water biscuit and bread sticks.
Bruschetta is ideal to nibble over cocktails or as a starter: toasted bread with a topping – roasted garlic and tomatoes. Saporista has a choice of savoury dips such as Perché ci Credo’s Bruschetta Rosso Piccantino perfect for jazzing up ciabatta and crackers.
Described as “slightly hot”, Rosso Piccantino is a red pesto with Peperoncino – chilli pepper – giving a spicy kick. Be warned, a teaspoonful goes a long way!.
Perché ci Credo produces a wide range of traditional Italian products capturing the intense flavour and unique aroma of fresh ingredients with no sugar, preservatives or artificial colouring.
Perché ci credo means ‘because I believe’ in Italian.
‘I believe in finely chopped onion meeting genuine olive oil in the pan. I believe in red crushed tomatoes and in red wine, and the joyful mix of flavours of red peppers and delicate courgettes. A simple pleasure. That’s why I believe in it!’.
Enrico de Lorenzo, founder Perché ci Credo
Located in Salento, Puglia, the southern ‘heel of Italy’, is renowned for sunshine, seashore and olive trees. The cuisine here is based on vegetables, fruit, cheese, fish, a little meat and good extra virgin olive oil, the pillar of the Mediterranean diet.
It is this taste of Italian lifestyle, real, simple local ingredients which they prepare, preserve and bottle – authentic produce using family recipes and sense of tradition.
Carciofini Arrostiti in Olio – roasted artichokes in extra virgin olive oil is simply delicious – juicy chunky hunks of vegetables – just toss into a salad or add to a pasta dish. Tomatoes and Olives too in this range of vegetables in the local olive oil.
Their method of artisan cuisine is based on fresh raw ingredients, washed and gently cut by hand, then added to a pan to cook, slowly simmering in extra virgin olive oil. This preserves the natural flavour and fragrance.
Farmhouse Tomato sauces are in attractive beer bottles with string and a metal seal. The flagship product, Salsa Madre just how Mamma would make it – 99% fresh tomatoes with a little basil and a pinch of salt.
As sampled, Cacio & Pepe is a thick tomato passata flavoured with Cacio – a soft sheep’s milk cheese – and black pepper. It’s inspired by a Roman recipe combining lightly fried onion, fresh tomato pulp, extra virgin olive oil, cheese, pepper and sprinkle of parsley.
Perché ci Credo’s homemade, organic sauces are produced with locally sourced ingredients, no added sugar or artificial ingredients. Stir these Farmhouse sauces through pasta with some fresh herbs and sprinkle with parmesan.
Having tasted a little on its own, it’s the exactly same taste of the tomato topping on pizza!. So ypu can also use this passata to fresh dough and top with mozzarella and basil for a Margherita or add other ingredients to create your favourite Pizza.
But I shall continue my Italian feast with a bowl of Pasta produced by Molina e Pastificio Fratelli Iozzini Gragnano which has a fascinating family heritage.
September, 1797: Marcantonio Iozzini, his wife Serafini Di Nola and their four sons start wheat milling and pasta production business having inherited a family mill, Lo Monaco.
Fast forward to 1920. Ferdinando Iozzino sets up a company with two entrepreneurs called “Pastificio La Gragnanese” which continues for about ten years. On to the present day, June 2018, when brothers Tommaso and Domenico Iozzino resume the production of artisan dried pasta started over two centuries earlier by their family. The house specialties are Mezzani, Vermicelli, Zita, Occhi di Elefante, Maccaroncelli, Lingue di Passero and Fusilli.
Pasta is a simple product: durum wheat flour and water. Since the Middle Ages, the main region for milling wheat was Gragnano between the Gulf of Naples and Salerno along the Amalfi coast. The constant quantity of natural water here provided energy for the mills and for the pasta itself.
Iozzino Gragnano pasta is produced from 100% Italian wheat and local Spring water. Durum (hard) wheat grains have a course texture and a yellow-amber colour which is finely milled to create semolina.
Generally there are two options to cut and mould the pasta called extrusion – a traditional bronze die or a Teflon die. The benefit of the bronze die is that it makes a slightly rough surface which helps sauces and other ingredients stick to the various pasta shapes.
Originating in Sicily, Caserecci (meaning, ‘homemade’), is a traditional short pasta, rolled lengthways into two twisted strips, their shape and ridged surface perfect for holding pesto and sauces. Known as the ′′ festive pasta “, this often enriches family Sunday lunch especially in Campania.
As advised on the label, it does take around 13 minutes to cook yet still slightly al dente. For texture, flavour and colour, I added a selection of summer vegetables – courgette, artichoke, pepper, chopped garlic, small cherry tomatoes and a few olives. Do try the superlative Saporista olives stuffed with anchovy.
Then the magic essential ingredient, the Perché ci Credo Cacio and Pepe passata. The sinuous pasta can be folded over on the fork and the twisted ribbons caress the sauce beautifully.
For this Fusilli Casarecci pasta, Iozzini suggest your choice of typical Mediterranean ingredients such as courgette, broccoli, sweetcorn and prawns and other seafood.
Finally, a light sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Highly recommended is Sapori di Parma Parmigiano Reggiano (aged 12 months) made in Santa Maria del Piano, northern Italy. Anna and Luca continue this artisan business founded in 1945 by their grandfather Bonfiglio.
Parmigiano Reggiano is a unique and inimitable style produced exclusively in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua where the dairy cows are fed on local forage and it takes about 550 litres of milk to produce each wheel, slowly crafted and matured with care.
One of the oldest and most prestigious ‘King of Cheeses’, Parmigiano Reggiano is labelled DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) to show regional authenticity. This has a hard, granular texture which is easy to grate into small soft flakes which melt into the pasta with subtle saltiness.
As well as the perfect, final touch to pasta dishes, small chunks of cheese are also a tasty snack at Aperitivo time.
With Saporista as your expert culinary guide, take a virtual foodie tour all around Italy – without having to pack your suitcase.
Simple, healthy produce offers premium quality – sweet tomatoes, olives, artichokes, fragrant herbs, homemade pasta and traditional cheese to delight the palate. And do complement your meal with crisp, dry wine from Tuscany, Veneto and Sicily.
Authentic, homely food, just as the Italians continue to relish with the same passion passed on through the generations. Embrace La Dolce Vita lifestyle this summer – buon appetito. !
Plan your Italian dinner here at the Saporista on line store:
Nina Hamnett (1890-1956): the legendary, but long lost, Queen of Bohemia in London and Paris, remembered by Alicia Foster.
The vivacious, often outrageous, Nina Hamnett was a romantic rebel with a cause: one of the most respected artists of the Modernist movement through the Camden Town Group, Omega Workshop and School of Paris, her work was shown widely, including at the Royal Academy and the Salon d’Automne.
This attractive, pocket sized book by the art historian, Dr Alicia Foster, who is also the curator of a current retrospective of Nina Hamnett at Charleston Farmhouse, Firle Sussex, 19th May to 30th August.
After a strict Victorian, military childhood, Nina refused to train as an office Clerk at her father’s suggestion, and her grandmother kindly paid for the fees at Pelham School of Art. Achieving a place to study at the London School of Art 1907 – 1910, Nina knew her vocation, “Here at last was paradise”.
Her tutor, William Nicholson encouraged her aptitude for still life – moving away from colourful studies of fruit and flowers as depicted by Cezanne, Matisse and Manet, to focus on the simplicity of kitchen pots, pans and jugs.
As seen in several Still Life paintings from 1917 and 1919, here are soft muted colours, a delicate touch of light and shade and often with a staged inclusion of avant-garde magazines and books.
Self Portrait 1913 shows her short, bobbed hair style, artist’s smock, hand on hip with a confident stance and gaze, as if to say, “Look at me and judge my work seriously”.
It was this year when Nina joined the Omega Workshops, a Bloomsbury co-operative led by Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell to develop modernist decorative and applied arts. Hamnett was encouraged to experiment with figurative and abstract designs for fabric, furniture, carpets and murals. She and Fry later had a close professional and personal relationship after posing for intimate life drawings.
Introduced to the world of the French Post-Impressionists at London exhibitions, she first visited Paris in 1912, returning regularly to immerse herself in the intellectual literary and artistic social circle around Montparnasse.
In Spring 1914, sitting alone for dinner at La Rotonde, she met a dashing young man, the struggling artist, Amadeo Modigliani, trying to sell his drawings.
She encouraged his work, posing as a model – this fabulous iconic portrait of Nina by Modigliani was painted in 1914 – while he introduced her to Picasso, Diaghilev and Cocteau et al. Here, at the heart of this inspirational community, Nina began to sketch café and street scenes with a quirky caricature style akin to Toulouse Lautrec.
Back in London, she was commissioned to paint the Sitwells, the trio of siblings who had formed their own literary and artistic clique, capturing Osbert and Edith’s theatrical eccentricity.
As Foster comments, their brother Sacheverell thought Nina’s artistry was “magnificent” while Hamnett described these as “psychological portraits that shall accurately represent the spirt of the age.”
Formal fashionable spirit of the age is captured in Gentleman with a Top Hat c 1919 or 1921, described as “one of Hamnett’s most dazzling portraits” but a shame that the sitter is not identified in this book. This is George Manuel Unwin, a Chilean opera singer who paraded around Paris in his spats, wearing a monocle, hat and carrying a cane, and Nina adds ther studio accessories of a Moroccan rug and a guitar as a backdrop.
Another renowned portrait is of the ballet dancer, Rupert Doone, 1923, whom she also met in Paris; his classically handsome good looks accentuated with pink blush along the cheekbones, pink gloss on cupid lips, and given a rather morose, moody expression.
In her vivacious and vital role as an unofficial cultural ambassador she embraced British and French high society through art, literature and music. Her friends and mentors included Augustus John, Roger Fry, Gaudier-Brzeska, Sickert, Modigliani, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Brancusi, Zadkine, Satie and Stravinksy.
‘Nina Hamnett’ does not claim to be a comprehensive biography and at under 50 pages, it’s a speedy scamper through her career with more of a thematic study of her work than covering personal and professional relationships.
There’s not a clear chronology through the narrative which concentrates on a selection of key portraits, sketches and life drawings, with limited detail of her promiscuous, bisexual behaviour and bohemian lifestyle. Standing out from the crowd, she was a serious drinker, danced on bar tables and wore bold red, yellow or checkerboard stockings and children’s sandals with flamboyant flair.
A meeting with Gertrude Stein in 1912, which sounds like a fascinating encounter, is a passing remark within parenthesis. Nina’s life drawing, ‘Standing Nude’ 1920 is interestingly the same title as an earlier limestone sculpture by Modigliani. This could be a tribute to the artist who had died that year but the fact that they were lovers is not mentioned.
This tasty amuse bouche into Nina’s extraordinary tragic short life will certainly entice readers to seek out her two volumes of memoirs, ‘Laughing Torso’ (1932) and ‘Is She a Lady’ (1955). These provide all the colourful (truthful or exaggerated?), anecdotes of her travels, brief encounters and seductive liaisons dangereuses, flitting between London and Paris. Apparently, she introduced James Joyce to Rudolph Valentino.!
“Laughing Torso” is a neglected and misunderstood Modernist masterpiece.” Dr Jane Goldman
A photograph of Nina from 1920 in her studio depicts her individual personality: a masculine stance in wide-legged trousers, open toe sandals, cigarette in hand with a sense of rebellious freedom. The title is quite simply and enigmatically, ‘Myself.’
Walter Sickert was a great admirer, who wrote the preface for the catalogue of her exhibition at the Edlar Gallery, London in June 1918: “Nina Hamnett draws like a born sculptor and paints like a born painter.”
This book and the retrospective exhibition at Charleston this summer shines a timely light on this talented born artist who became the best known British artist in Paris in her prime, slowly fading from the limelight until her tragic death aged sixty six. Nina Hamnett was never afraid to do things differently, embracing the Bohemian spirit of her time with free spirited passion and pioneering creativity.
Nina Hamnett by Alicia Foster, Eiderdown Books RRP £10.99:
Modern Women Artists series: www.eiderdownbooks.com
Nina Hamnett Retrospective: 19 May – 30 August, 2021
The Modern Women Artists Series
The Modern Women Artists series of collectable books reveals an alternative history of art, telling the story of important female artists whose art might otherwise be overlooked, overshadowed or forgotten in the first half of the twentieth century.
‘Shimmering Light’- an exhibition of new paintings by Jamie Primrose capturing his favourite walks and waterways around Edinburgh at the Dundas Street Gallery
“The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.
Seascape … it changes at every instant, the weather varies several times in the same day. It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way”.
As well as depicting the wild natural beauty of the Hebridean islands and the lush, languid Mediterranean coastline, Jamie Primrose is renowned for his paintings around Edinburgh. Each of his biannual exhibitions takes us on a different journey of discovery observing new perspectives from city streets to the seashore, where he is “continually obsessed with investigating ephemeral light.”
This new collection of over 50 original oil paintings, ‘Shimmering Light’ was completed over the past year focussing on a theme inspired by favourite and familiar childhood haunts across North Edinburgh: Inverleith Park, Royal Botanic Garden, Water of Leith, Cramond, Newhaven, Portobello and the Forth Bridges spanning the Firth of Forth.
The glorious golden, lime-green and amber shades of the leaves and scattering of Monet waterlilies floating like flowering boats, against a baby blue sky in Shimmering Light on the Botanics Pond.
Across the road from the RBGE is Inverleith Park with its real Swan Lake – there are three cygnets this year. This large boating pond is painted from different views to study the avenue of trees as well as south over the city.
Here, a flurry of white wispy Spring Afternoon Clouds over Inverleith Pond scurry across the azur sky with such delicate luminosity and detailed clarity. This is an extraordinary panorama leading the eye from the reflection on the dappled water over the rugby ground to Stockbridge and the far horizon with the Castle Rock and the round mound of Arthur’s Seat.
Very much a trademark of Primrose’s painterly style is a range of sunsets following the slow shifting hues of dusky light, shade and shadow.
Amongst other boating scenes of this old fishing port, Winter Sunset over Newhaven Harbour is a majestic painting which simply sizzles in a palette of coral, ochre, peach with a splash of molten gold dripping across the horizon.
The criss-cross pattern of rose-tinted clouds and the streak of the dying sunlight glinting on the sea, like a beam from the lighthouse, has such a dramatic effect.
In quieter mood, Last Light at Cramond, shows the row of waterfront white-washed houses and bare winter trees under a chilly, dark sky suggesting the threat of rain. The glimmer of soft pink rays on the water is a painterly snapshot of this specific moment in time, akin to the click of a camera shutter for a photograph.
Moving away from this finely crafted realism, Twilight Skies over Cramond, is a mesmerising burst of indigo and orange with a sharp shaft of yellow casting a white pool of light on the waves, framing the shapely silhouette of distant hills.
This semi abstract seascape, blending layered blocks of rainbow colours, offers a fresh experimental style with Rothko-esque vivacity and verve.
Take a trip too in the early morning and the end of the day along the Water of Leith, the Shore in Leith, Portobello beach and along to Queensferry to view the three iconic rail and road bridges, in many other evocative, richly colourful compositions.
For instance, this is a wonderful view of the river walk past the weir near the Dean Village, where the sunlight glints through the trees to sparkle on the water in Reflections on the Water of Leith.
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of his professional art career in 2013, Jamie Primrose presented a retrospective exhibition, ‘Reflections on a City’ at the Dovecot Studios. In my review, I wrote that he had “perfected a precise artistic palette to create his own distinctive landscapes which show a true passion for the city of Edinburgh”.
In this charming exhibition, Primrose continues to follow in the brushstrokes of Monet, Cezanne, Pissarro et al, to capture the natural world through the daily shifting, shimmering quality of light from dawn to dusk with such a tangible sense of place through his masterly impressionistic style.
There is a accompanying Video which has been edited and crafted brilliantly, moving seamlessly from film footage of these locations to images of the associated paintings. A magical wee movie with a soundtrack piano music and lapping waves to create a delightful, dreamlike atmosphere.
Shimmering Light: 4th June to 12th June:
No appointment necessary – just walk in
Restricted number of visitors at one time with health and safety precautions in place.
The Dundas Street Gallery
6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh
Thursday 10th June, 11am – 6pm
Friday 11th June, 11am – 6pm
Saturday 12th June, 11am – 5pm
View images on line:
Shimmering Light video tour of Edinburgh locations and paintings.