‘Beneath the Surface’: an imaginative, soulful reflection of memories by MaryAnne Hunt and Lindsay Storstein @ Whitespace Gallery
Having both attended Glasgow School of Art (at different times), a recent chance encounter brought MaryAnne and Lindsay together to collaborate on a shared theme of motherhood, memories and life’s experiences past and present.
MaryAnne Hunt initially worked in wallpaper design, then returned to study at Leith School of Art where she as awarded the Figurative Painting Prize 2020.
There’s clearly a vivid sense of nostalgia in such paintings as ‘Nursery Days’ with its pinky-brown glow giving the effect of a vintage sepia photograph. The little girl quietly playing with her rocking horse and teddy bear is reminiscent of illustrations for AA Milne’s poems about Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, and classic children’s stories with charming caricature drawings of Edward Ardizzone.
‘Keeping Watch’ is an intimate close up of a doll-like baby at bedtime beside Teddy with its observant beady eyes, taking on the role of a caring and concerned parent to ensure the health and safety of the child.
The playful, richly imaginative miniature world of a Dolls House is given a dark, Gothic mood in monochrome as we glimpse at a family’s life through the windows of the kitchen, lounge, dining room and nursery, one with bars on the window. A house of hidden secrets behind closed doors.
With its period setting of a domestic scene featuring dark Victorian furniture, ‘She Waits at the Window’ also presents a haunting vision of remembrance.
A more joyful memory of motherhood is captured in ‘Learning to Walk’ is a most evocative. This wee toddler points her left foot in a red Dorothy shoe in a big step, clutching the stroller with a serious facial expression, determined to master the skill of walking. Thick brushstrokes create a swirling, grey misty backdrop to this dreamlike impression of a precious moment from the past.
Through these delicately crafted paintings in soft, shimmering shades, MaryAnne Hunt evokes haunting, hazy memories which lurk beneath the surface of the mind which illustrate her own story book narrative.
Lindsay Storstein studied Fine Art at Glasgow School of Art and latterly attended further courses at GSA and Leith School of Art, developing and evolving her work across a broad range of genres: still life, fish, landscape, drawings and mixed media collage.
The main focus in this showcase is a series of powerfully expressive portraits with fragmented, abstract vision as in ‘Head Study 7’. Richly textured as a collage of overlaid scraps and strips of paper in a patchwork of soft grey, cream, ochre and splash of coral with dramatic and disturbing effect.
Figurative work devoid of facial features is as powerful if not more so, as a conventional portrait. The blurring of identity was a trademark of the Bloomsbury artist, Vanessa Bell who aimed to represent the complexity of the mind as in the faceless portrait of her sister, the intellectual writer, Virginia Woolf who suffered from mental illness all her life.
Likewise, half covered with a plaster to heal a wound and a staring dark eye, Lindsay’s ‘Head Study 6,’ is a stunning image, again exploring beneath the surface of hidden emotion. Picasso’s distorted faces was his way of showing how he views a person from different angles as well as portraying the sitter’s emotions and thoughts – to make the viewer aware of what the sitter is feeling.
This distorted technique is brilliantly achieved in ‘Head Study 10’ where the face is partially masked by a newspaper cutting, placed upside down: look carefully at the first line – When I look at portraits of myself. With a bold, brash sketchy style with sightless eyes and drips of blood-red paint, this is a haunting reflection of fear and anguish.
Lindsay also has a passion for drawing the iconic shape of fish. The glowing, glistening pink, green and blue scales of freshly caught mackerel (or trout or herring?), in ‘Fish 3,’ are set against the watery splash of a seascape with the sandy shore, loch and rolling hills beyond. This is a masterly composition with a witty sense of humour.
An impressionistic, abstract scenic view, ‘Dark Landscape’ has a most effective thick texture, with a sweep of brushstrokes creating a thundery sky, brightened by the icy white streak of winter snow – brilliantly atmospheric.
‘Beneath the Surface” is a well-conceived and most inspirational joint showcase, expressing the powerful poignancy of memories with soulful, often surreal, artistic imagination.
Whitespace Gallery, 76 East Crosscauseway, Edinburgh EH8 9HQ
17 – 23 September, 2021
Open daily: 11am-6pm except for Thursday 23: 11am-4pm