The Artists’ Pool showcase an imaginative response to Lockdown in “Times Like These” @ Dundas Street Gallery
“The Artist’s Pool was established in 2004 with the intention of embracing the power of art to bring people together and support their creativity. Each member brings their unique personality and skill set to the pool – a mixture of cultures and experiences with an harmonious goal – to promote the positivity, connectivity and healing power of art.’
In their latest showcase, “Times Like These”, group of nine artists give a personal response to finding their lives turned upside down by lockdown. When the rushing abruptly ceased, all routines fell out of the window and living in the present became the only option. There’s little normal about the ’new normal’.
There is extraordinary creativity here, a fascinating sweep of varied genres from contemplative seascapes and updated versions of classic works, to colourful abstracts and Graphic Art. Here is look around the work of four of the artists.
During World War 2, morale-boosting notices encouraged the British people to “Keep Calm and Carry On”, which has in recent years been endlessly adapted into humorous phrases such as “Save Water, Drink Champagne”.
At the start of lockdown in March 2020, the stark warning has been “Stay Home, Save Lives”. This was the impetus for Adam Lucy to invent a series of Pop Art, public service announcements.
” I would never have believed the extent of the disruption and turmoil the world would experience due to COVID-19. A bundle of art and fashion magazines and a limited palette of acrylic paints I managed to grab from my studio, provided the materials for the work you see here”. Adam Lucy
With reference to Dorothy’s dream in The Wizard of Oz, clicking her sparkly red shoes, “There’s No Place like Home” echoes BoJo’s plea to the nation on 23rd March. This neatly-crafted collage of cut-out letters and pasted images, creates a witty and wise warning.
Likewise, in “You Have the Power” a God-like figure points his outstretched finger at Everyman/woman to adhere to the rules. Reminscent of Michaelangelo’s Creation of Adam, the meaning is about the spark of life and humanity. These modern Keep Calm-style posters in the era of the global pandemic are effective, graphic illustrations to spread the word.
Esperanza Gómez-Carrera also uses text in her artwork made from vintage books with imaginative vision. Her father’s family were in the bookbinder business, and she grew up in a house filled with books. With charming theatricality, she makes cut out, Intervened books, such as “Love Lyrics”, which features a tiny doll’s house-sized bride and groom at their wedding.
“ I work with sculptures, installations and performances” she explains. “For the most part, I enjoy exploring and re-interpreting everyday objects in humorous ways. It is always with a sense of respect that I give books a new chance at life and share a different message.”
Also on show are several atmopheric seascapes by Helen Campbell such as the dark, threatening rain clouds in “Evening Light.” The fading glimmer of dusk shimmers on the rough waves, as the eye is drawn to the misty distant horizon.
The tiny figure, just visible to the left on the beach was apparently added at the last moment, to give perspective. There is a real sense of isolation here, this lonely soul braving the elements.
During lockdown she spent a good deal of time embracing the natural world near her home in the New Forest.
“ I learned birdcalls, studied the night sky, sat and watched the deer at dusk. I stopped and looked, slowly calming down and recalling why I love the changing seasons. These paintings come from moments in my life when I was truly ‘there’ and remind me not to lose that connection so easily again.” Helen Campbell
“Against the Light” is a mesmerising scene, where a bright, gold-flamed, surreal spectre stands staring out to sea, again denoting solitude away from humanity and society. Some viewers may find a religious connotation in this haunting image.
Inspired by the work of the classic Masters, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Titian and Jacques Louis David, John Slavin has updated the narrative of historical, Biblical and legendary events for the present global crisis.
As a homage to Jacques Louis David’s original painting, “Belisarius Begging for Alms,” reflects the widespread situation of begging in city streets and metro stations today. Slavin noticed that during the Pandemic, when the streets were deserted, homeless people in Edinburgh were given accommodation and financial support.
‘Babel Tower’ is his reimagination of Bruegel’s ‘The Great Tower of Babel’, 1563.
‘I’m concerned with the fall of the tower, the aftermath of incommunicable shock and the silent nature of Babel. What are the consequences of total collapse, …. that the state is compromised, as has been the case with covid-19.”
“Times Like These” is a thought-provoking and inspiring exhibition which reflects the artists’ personal emotions, experiences and vision of this brave new, socially distanced and disrupted world.
Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
21 – 29 August, 2020
For more information on The Artists’ Pool, this exhibition and the artists:
Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA, a solo show at the Grilli Gallery: Sunny French landscapes and decorative Still Life studies
During the Edinburgh Festival season each year, the well-established Grilli gallery on Dundas Street has always presented a special exhibition to attract both city residents and international visitors. This year it’s a most inspiring solo showcase by Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA.
Jack Morocco was born in 1953 into a renowned family of artists, including his mother Rozelle, uncle Alberto and cousin Leon. He studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, a broad-based degree course including graphic design, illustration, textiles, life drawing, painting, portraiture, still life and photography.
The prominent genre here are landscapes, especially around the South of France – the daily life around Uzes, Arles and Aix-en-Provence – as well as Spain and Venice. Here are most evocative scenes of outdoor cafes with locals and holiday visitors, enjoying a coffee or a leisurely lunch in the warm sunshine.
The figures in Morning Coffee, Plaza de la Paja, Madrid may appear to be rough sketches, but there’s fine detail in the colours and style of clothes, such as the girl in a jaunty panama hat, her long legs stretched out under the table. Faces are mainly just blank smudges, but you still get the impression of age and character, gesture and body language.
Here, and also in Dejeuner, Lourmarin, Provence, the masterly use of dappled light, softly shimmering through the leaves of the trees, creating the contrasting gradations of shade and shadow.
This technique is particularly well handled in Place aux Herbes, Uzes, Provence, featuring small vignettes of families and children, elegant couples and a dog. Again, with just a simple splosh of colour, there is such accuracy to illustrate this disparate group of people in an array of shorts and hats on this summer day.
Take a stroll through tree lined squares, from Place and Plaza to enticing fruit and vegetable markets. These have a remarkable sense of movement as the shoppers stroll around the stalls.
Venice is also another favourite place where Morocco loves to capture the water and the tranquility, where its iconic ambience, he says, haven’t changed for two hundred years.
Ponte del Cavaletto shows an old hump-backed stone bridge with iron railings, where a girl in an orange T shirt has stopped to stand in the centre, looking down to observe a grey haired gentlemen, sitting on the walkway beside the canal. He looks like an artist at his easel – perhaps Jack Morocco himself ?
So much to see here – the balcony brimming with flowers, the ochre and pink stone houses, the glimpse of a blue boat, reflected on the calm surface of the water.
In the back room of the gallery, there are several Still Life paintings, to show the diverse range of expertise, subject and genre of the artist in this exhibition. Lilies, Lilacs and Silver Coffee Pot is a stunning composition, where the texture and material of each individual object – flower petals, shiny apple, the fold of a cloth, glint of wine glass and polished silver pot – is depicted with such clarity, care and precision.
There are also decorative, abstract studies of musical instruments, fruit, ceramics and mini portraits, in Picasso-esque style, as in the delightful Dried Flowers and Wally Dugs.
The fine art of “Nature Morte” dates back to the Egyptians, Roman and Greek frescoes and mosaics, later developed by the Dutch masters and then popular with the Impressionists, notably, Van Gogh and Cezanne. As an evolving painterly tradition, ancient and modern through the centuries, it is essential that Still Life continues to be taught in art colleges in the 21st century.
If August 2020 has been spent in staycation mode, feel the heat of the Mediterranean summer, soft golden sand and sea breeze in a few beach scenes: La Plage en Famille and the atmospheric, Boats and Bathers, with suntanned holiday makers relaxing under a parade of parasols, shaded from the glare of the midday sun.
Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA
25 July to 29 August, 2020
The Grilli Gallery, 20a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
tel. 0131 261 4264
Gallery opening hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs, 11am-4pm. Sat. 10am-1pm.
Configurate – a dazzling, colourful display of decoratively designed, wall sculpture @ & Gallery, Edinburgh
The definition of the verb Configure means to “arrange, design, adapt or put together in a particular form or order.”
Therefore Configurate is the most apt title for this inspiring showcase of highly imaginative, creatively crafted and configured artworks by four international artists.
Ivan De Menis from Treviso, Italy studied both graphic art at the Vittorio Veneto college and then painting at the Venice Academy of Fine Arts. Here is a selection of his colourful square boxes, rectangle and oblong blocks composed in Mixed Media – such as polystyrene and air ball bubble wrap – on a wooden board.
A series of contrasting three-dimensional pieces called Tessera, each have a dominant colour – royal blue, pinky-coral, green and orange – on the front panel.
These have a marvellous silky smooth, luminous surface, in contrast to the abstract patterns on each sides, with the effect of dripping streaks of ‘wet’ paint. For example, Tessera 1A9/y2 is mesmerising in its structure and surreal composition with the wildly expressionistic splash of purple, green orange like spray graffiti paint, splattered on an urban wall.
It would be difficult to choose just one of these attractive objets d’art, while a row of two or three together on your wall would create a stunning diptych or triptych sculpture, as presented in the gallery.
Jon Thomas is a contemporary artist & sculptor based in Swansea on the South Wales coast. Having studied 3-dimensional design at Sheffield Hallam University he now specialises in free standing, wall based sculptures using a range of industrial materials, Plaster of Paris, acrylic sheets, polystyrene and MDF board. Recent work has been influenced by travelling to see and study the architecture of the Maya civilisation in Mexico.
Here is a diverse range of meticulously structured decorative artworks, illuminating sculptures in the true meaning of the word. Using translucent acrylic, Saturation Point is an amazing series of yellow and red square sheets on a marble base, like a row of CDs, which shimmer, glimmer and glow in the light.
Also most impressive is Untitled, a translucent blue polystyrene 3D block, which you can study for ages, peering inside to observe the complex design of layered triangular shapes. This could certainly be the conceptual architectural model for an avant garde modern art gallery in Barcelona or Milan.
In more minimalist mode, Space Between, is a simple circle etched out of a yellow board of polystyrene and plaster, with dents and chips to denote its pliable texture.
Laura Jane Scott from London, is also immersed in experimenting with geometric form and interlocking sheets of MDF, Medium-density fibreboard, combining hard and soft woods with resins and wax to produce a hard-wearing but lightweight panel. For an artist, it’s the ideal adaptable material which can be cut to a preferred thickness and shape, with a smooth surface suited to painting resulting for a great polished veneer.
Form 20 is a series of nine separate MDF blocks in muted shades of ochre, sand, sky blue, racing green, taupe and black. Although physically solid, these compositions are akin to the precision of neat folds of paper in Origami craftwork.
Several objects are entitled Perspective which neatly sums up Laura Jane’s vision creating these extraordinary structural designs of interlocking colourful sheets like a box file or shelf of surreal books.
“My aim is always to express an idea as simply and as elegantly as possible. To strip everything back to only what is necessary to communicate that idea. My work is primarily an exploration of balance, of positive and negative space, of presence and absence.”
Laura Jane Scott
Andrew Clausen began his artistic training in his native California and then moved to Italy where he studied sculpture with artisan craftsmen. Currently living and working in the Netherlands, his selected medium is cast concrete layered onto resin bonded canvas for his architectural studies.
As in Bouwput, stone-grey is the dominant colour for this design of a modernist building, with the linear accuracy of a draughtsman. The graduation of shade and shadow gives the tonal effect of a soft background light and the viewer may be tempted to touch these ‘concrete’ sculptures to feel its apparent rough brick-like surface.
The structural contour of what could be a bridge in Van Nelle clearly evokes the density and strength of steel and concrete girders, illustrated with such detail. Clausen adds inkjet and pigment transfer images and text to the canvas, such that artistry is blended with technical mastery. As in IPKW 1 (below), these are dreamlike compositions which cleverly transform the notion of hard industrial concrete into softly focussed, decorative designs of style and substance.
Configurate – 1st August – 2 September, 2020
Clausen: De Menis: Scott: Thomas
& Gallery, 3 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QG
Quedubon – (just good things) by Michael G. Clark @ Doubtfire Gallery: a bon vivant tour from Paris to Provence
Doubtfire Gallery was established in 2010 by design partnership Frame Creative and it’s most exciting that it has recently moved to the bustling heart of Stockbridge. With light flooding in the front window, this is a contemporary, accessible and spacious venue with high white walls and polished wood floor.
To launch the new gallery, the summer exhibition is Quedubon by Michael G. Clark. The title roughly translates as “just good things” to reflect the French sense of joie de vivre and observe the pursuit of pleasure and leisure in their daily routine.
Clark visited Paris for the first time in 1980 while studying at he Edinburgh College of Art: the city of light, culture and romance, must have been an exciting, enriching experience for a young artist. Café society, the timeless French art of living, is captured with cool, charismatic style.
There is a certain je ne sais quoi about the inimitable ankle-grazing apron, style and stature of the traditional waiter, as seen standing here on duty with military precision.
This is more than a simple sketch but a charming, impressionistic Lowry-esque figurative study. Through the window, it seems there is a shadowy glimpse of a couple sitting inside the café, all part of a hidden narrative like a paused frame in an animation movie.
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” From A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway (memoir)
Drinking wine is the decorative theme in several artworks to take you on a virtual journey around the vineyards of the Bordeaux, Rhone, Loire and Champagne regions.
Mostly Bordeaux – the half full (or half empty) glass of wine is a bright and bold Pop Art image set against a splash of Cabernet Sauvingon/Merlot red.
From oil paintings to unframed works, here are champagne flutes, clinking glasses and a fine array of bottles of all shapes and sizes. White Wine is a most pleasing compostion like a Still life, with corkscrew, grapes and bottles within an abstract fertile green landscape of the vineyard.
With an imaginative use of media, Wine Bibbing, is sketched in ink and a splosh of red wine, with a jolly, jaunty angle of the glasses. Santé !
As well as fine wines and cuisine, France is also renowned for haute couture. Michael G. Clark has the expert eye of a leading fashion designer, specialising with such skill in drawing the most fabulous frocks and the ever fashionable LBD, of Coco Chanel fame. This unframed illustration is delicately crafted in Conté crayon and oil on a gesso panel.
The Dressmaker depicts an elegant cocktail gown – perhaps cream chiffon – and a soft pink sundress, with such subtle shading to denote a light linen texture.
Paris in the Rain, reflects the damp chill in the air, the girl in her cloche hat hunched under her parapluie, trying to keep dry and warm.
Here are many other quirky, quintessential snapshots of traditional French life and times – shopping in the market, a game of Petanque in the park, taking the dog for a walk, and the iconic, close embrace of two lovers in a city street.
Again, like an animation movie, these are delightful, romantic vignettes, ‘caricature’ figures but with a depth of painterly expression to evoke a real sense of place and atmosphere – the use of light, leafy shade and dappled sunlight is most effective.
The beauty of the natural landscape too, such as Sunflowers, (see image below), with thick brush strokes and smudges of golden yellow oil paint like a slick of mustard: one blooming flower stands tall and erect to face the sun.
Quedubon – Just Good Things by Michael G Clark is the perfect exhibition to bring sunshine into our lives this summer. Do visit the new Doubtfire Gallery soon.
Quedubon – Just Good Things, by Michael G Clark PAI, RSW
Doubtfire Gallery, 20th June to 1st August, 2020
28 North West Circus Place,, Edinburgh EH3 6TP
The Summer Exhibition at the Grilli Gallery, Edinburgh: a joyful expression of flowers, femininity, seashore and sunshine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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 www.art-grilli.co.uk
The gallery will open from 29 June, with restrictions on visitor numbers for health and safety.
Email: email@example.com Telephone: 07876 013 013
“Edinburgh Festival-time” Solo Exhibition
Jack Morrocco DA FRSA
25 July to 29 August 2020
Scotland’s seafaring life captured in evocative, expressionist artwork by John Bellany @ The Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh
During May 2020 the Open Eye Gallery is showing an enchanting retrospective to reflect John Bellany’s celebration of Scotland in his art through his enduring passion to explore life and work on the edge of the sea.
This environment was engrained into his blood having been born into a family of fishermen and boat builders in Port Seton, East Lothian.
It was through his childhood observation of this close-knit, deeply religious community where he found his artistic voice.
Eyemouth was where he began to draw boats as a young boy and as he later recalled.. ”the hustle and bustle of activity, that was the core of my life. I still think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. ”
He returned here again and again – such as to sketch this scene of a huddle of fishing boats, as a student at Edinburgh College of Art.
Overlooking Eyemouth harbour is the 18th century Gunsgreen House built by a local Tea smuggler John Nisbet. His grandmother was born here and Bellany was guest of honour in 2010 when Gunsgreen opened as a museum, where a few of his local maritime paintings are given pride of place.
Boats, fish and seabirds dominate his art, boldly illustrated in a dramatic expressionist, surreal style.
While at first glance By the Sea is a simple, colourful composition of yachts on the river, a large seagull beside a a flush cheeked woman in a headscarf, study the symbolic detail: a crucifix around her neck, a church and a boat yard on the shore. This encapsulates the hard working outdoor lives of those who worked in these fishing ports.
As a boy John helped with gutting fish and smoking finnan haddock, images of which which lingered in his mind. Here in Sea Offering the fishhead, skinned fishbones beside a skeletal figure holding a sandglass timer – an alternative grim reaper.
By mythologising the fishermen’s world in his art, the subject of mortality is a recurring theme to reflect the Calvinist fear of death and the uncertain safe return after going out to sea.
Women are also a vivacious vital element in his paintings described as fisherlass, virgin, bride, seawife, maiden or diva – a constant muse.
In Listening to the Sea this glamorous lady is dressed in black evening gloves, cigarette between her lips, listens to the waves in her conch shell. Her gaze is sensual and seductive – is she listening to the call of her lover.?
A close study of Sea Maiden reveals that her head is wrapped with an oily blue-scaled fish with its gleaming eye and tail, to complement her long red pig-tailed hair. Sensual, soulful eyes are such an iconic characteristic of all Bellany’s serene portraits of beguiling women.
And here’s a joyous, rich red Amaryllis to brighten our days at home – through the window, a charming tranquil scene of a fishing port.
As an art student he visited a local bar patronised by Hugh MacDiarmid who advised him that in order to be true to others he must first be true to yourself. Impressed that MacDiarmid wrote in Scots,” Bellany knew how to be distinctive: ‘I’m going to paint in Scots.’
This is an evocative retrospective to showcase John Bellany’s mesmerising, mythical vision of Scottish seafaring life, culture and heritage. The son of a fisherman, a child of the sea, his art is true to that inheritance which inspires and enriches the imagination.
As an avid admirer of his captivating portraits and seascapes, I am fortunate to view a couple of Bellany’s wonderful, wild women of the sea, everyday at home.
Open Eye Gallery
John Bellany – May 2020
A Wild, Winter Voyage around the Hebrides is captured in wind-blown, salt-sprayed seascapes by Ross Ryan: “Batten down the Hatches” at the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh.
Shannon, Fastnet, Rockall, Malin, Bailey, Fairisle. …: the solemn, somnolent reading of the Shipping Forecast broadcast each night on BBC Radio 4, may sound like a poetic lullaby if safely at home, but an essential warning of impending gales for seafaring folk.
The map of the Shipping Forecast is the starting point of Ross Ryan’s The Logbook (Vol 2) which charts his recent intrepid expedition on board MV Sgarbh, a vintage, 40-foot, wooden fishing boat.
As both an artist and yachtmaster, in 2017 Ryan set off from Crinan on a solo painting trip, the result of which was an exhibition, “The Logbook, A Solo Winter Voyage” at the Scottish Gallery in May 2018.
Inspired by this challenging experience, Ryan set off again on MV Sgarbh to explore Mull, Barra, Tiree, Islay and Jura over the recent winter season on his travelling Studio to compile an exhilarating range of work entitled “Batten down the Hatches.”
“This new collection of paintings is from two years of chasing gales, sailing to offshore lighthouses and discovering the people and their islands. As the world has also temporarily battened down the hatches, I hope this exhibition is a reminder of the beautiful seascapes of the West Coast that await for us”. Ross Ryan, 2020
For over 150 years, Robert Stevenson, his sons and grandsons, built the lighthouses around Scotland’s coastline from Bell Rock to Vaternish. Designed by Thomas Stevenson, Dubh Artach Lighthouse (completed 1872), stands on a basalt rock 18 miles west of Colonsay and 15 miles South West of Iona.
From The Logbook (Vol 2 ), Ross Ryan
“With the swell rolling us excessively, anchoring was out the question, as was making a landing. Soon it became apparent the only way to keep her steady was to steam slowly into the swell. The painting got a drenching as we passed through the Corryvrekan whirlpool. What was lost in paint was gained in an authenticating layer of salt. “
This misty, murky image – oil and pastel on board – perfectly illustrates the remote location of this majestic monument rising from the rough, rolling Atlantic. The shimmering clouds and frothing waves is most atmospheric and certainly authentic: you can almost feel the chilling, salt-sea spray engrained in the oil paint.
Dubh Artach translates as black rock, or indeed, black death due to the numerous ships wrecked on the fearsome Torran Reef. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about a memorable boat trip to see his father’s great construction which saved so many souls.
“A certain black rock stood environed by the Atlantic rollers, the outpost of the Torran reefs. Here was a tower, star lighted for the conduct of seamen. No other life was there but that of seabirds and of the sea itself …that .. growled … roared and spouted on the rock. “Memories of an Islet” RLS (1887)
A poetic description of the same scene recently observed by Ross Ryan for this semi- abstract sketch, First Flash, Dubh Artach: a dot of a star clearly shines on the horizon with a peachy glow of a dying sun below a threatening sky. With crafted layers and shades of pastel on paper, this is a stunning composition.
Scotland’s tallest lighthouse is Skerryvore, (Alan Stevenson,1844) on a treacherous reef of rocks, 11 miles from Tiree.
The bold, brash brushstrokes sweep a swirl of billowing cloud over the choppy sea, a place blessed with a mild sunny climate but strong gales, perfect for windsurfing.
This has an exquisite Turner-esque quality focusing on the same maritime motif – the wave. Here is the visible power of churning, crashing waves in luminous detail.
While the pioneering Impressionist artists painted “en plein air” to embrace the landscape up close and personal, Ross Ryan immerses himself even more in the heart of the action. The idyllic wee island of Vatersay is the most southerly in the Outer Hebrides, renowned for its sublime beaches and unspoilt natural habitat. Braving the weather, the simple black splashes of rain clouds are so realistic.
From The Logbook (Vol 2) Ross Ryan
“During the winter I painted from the shore, recording the sea in all her anger. Here is a force that could move a beach overnight and flick rocks like unwanted peas.”
On the North East coastline, Joan Eardley was also mesmerised by the vast sea and sky, setting up her easel on the beach at Catterline to express the energy and beauty of a ferocious storm.
On this voyage, Ryan followed in the wake of the Scottish Colourists to the island of Iona. Cadell first visited Iona in 1912 and then together with Peploe, this became their annual summer pilgrimage.
With a warm colour palette, these scenes portray the pure white sand, lapping waves and soft light of this timeless spiritual place.
There is the distinctive classic artistic style of the Colourists here in The Sound of Iona, with sculptured shapes and tonal light in a precise pattern.
Islay, “Queen of the Hebrides,” is renowned for its distinctive smoky-peat whisky and Lagavulin Distillery is located on the edge of a bay in the south of the island. An imaginative flurry of haphazard scratch marks denote the cloud-spattered sky on this grey day.
Time for a dram. Lagavulin 16 year old malt is described as ‘Lapsang Souchong tea, pipe tobacco, fishboxes, kippers and hint of kelp but always sweet’.
Sending a “Message in a Bottle” is an ancient tradition. Ryan’s own project has taken him on a magical mystery tour to Tiree and Coll to paint the spot where his bottles washed ashore and meet the treasure hunters.
With delicate detail and fine perspective, the calm tranquility of Red Rock Beach.
By enduring the harshest of environments, Ross Ryan’s collection of artwork, photographs and Logbook creates such a vividly illustrated narrative of his seafaring adventures.
“Batten down the Hatches” is a most timely subject – 2020 is the “Year of Coasts & Waters” by Visit Scotland. Take a virtual island-hopping voyage around the Hebrides at the Scottish Gallery and be inspired.
The Scottish Gallery
‘Batten down the Hatches’ – 29 April to 30 May, 2020
View the exhibition on line:
For further information on images, film footage, Ross Ryan’s travel blog and Logbook Catalogue, please contact the gallery by email:
While the gallery is closed, a selected painting from this exhibition is placed on an easel, changed by request, to view through the window.
The May exhibition also includes “My Border Landscapes” by Sir William Gillies and a tribute to the jewellery maker, Wendy Ramshaw.
“Water of Life”: a modernist, majestic, painterly view of Scotchland by Euan McGregor at the Doubtfire Gallery, Edinburgh
Doubtfire Gallery, Edinburgh, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, will soon have a new addresss in Stockbridge. Until the gallery can open to the public, their Spring exhibition, Water of Life by Euan McGregor, PAI, has now been unveiled and available to view on line.
Euan McGregor graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Printmaking at Glasgow School of Art in 1998. Awarded the Royal Glasgow Institute Travelling Scholarship he spent six months exploring and painting in Catalonia. Specialising now in landscape painting and mixed media work, he lives in West Kilbride on the Ayrshire coast.
Scotch Whisky distilleries often featuring an image of a moorland grouse or Highland stag on their bottles to reflect our natural wilderness, the origin of uisge beatha, Water of Life.
“The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body.” – David Daiches, author of “Scotch Whisky: its past and present”
Inspired by the malt whisky industry, Euan McGregor has toured Scotland, from Islay to Orkney, Moray to Wick, to visit a diverse range of Distilleries to capture their landscape setting from coastline to countryside.
“I love the fact that these industrial-sized buildings often inhabit the wildest of places, so there’s a contradiction of sorts, but they work well together, especially as the product is so synonymous with its geography.” Euan McGregor
The whisky map has six regions which are absolutely key to the characteristic aroma, taste and style of Scotch – Highland, Speyside, Campbeltown, Lowland, Islands, Islay.
Islay whisky is especially distinctive due to the earthy peat used to dry the malt which creates a smooth smoky flavour. Bowmore is a quaint, quiet town on Loch Indaal, Islay, with its renowned Distillery founded in 1779 beside the harbour.
Euan McGregor is fascinated by the historic signage which guided the puffer cargo boats safely to port – “They are like proud beacons giving clarity to ships and tourists alike”.
This is a striking composition, (acrylic on board), with the giant letters highlighted in black on the white washed walls. The tall chimney stretching up to the blue sky is like a lighthouse to warn skippers and sailors of the rocky seashore.
McGregor has skilfully ‘sketched’ the architectural structure of the huddled group of buildings beside the beach and lapping waves. While apparently simple, there’s such a tangible atmosphere, you can almost catch a whiff of the salt sea air.
A couple of years ago, I boarded a 12 passenger boat for a voyage to the Southern Hebrides for an island hopping adventure. Islay, the ‘Queen of the Hebrides’ has eight whisky distilleries with the annual Feis Ile, Festival of Music and Malt, attracting over 3,000 international whisky loving visitors.
Bowmore was certainly a stunning sight as the Glen Etive sailed across Loch Indall.
Oloroso sherry casks provide a fruity sweetness during the maturing process: Bowmore 12 year old is described as a blend of vanilla, bergamot, perfumed smoke, sea spray and lemon zest, while the Black Rock Malt has the rich flavour of toasted fudge, cinnamon and marmalade.
Next stop is Caol Ila distillery (1846) at Port Askaig with views across the Caol Ila (Sound of Islay) to the island of Jura.
Again a strong illustration emphasising the quiet location on the seashore: sharply geometric in design – white warehouse, a blue block of sea shimmering in the sunlight and the square flatness of the cliff behind.
A tasting note for Caol Ila: “ … heather and coffee notes as well as hint of brine on the nose like smoked fish or cockles in butter”.
On the south coast of the island is Lagavulin which officially dates from 1816, although records show illicit distillation here since 1742. Moving away from a realistic representation, Lagavulin Detached is a cool, crafted fragmented illustration, extracting the oblong, oval and triangles of chimney, stillhouse, hill, sea, sky, like pieces of a jigsaw.
Akin to printmaking, this has an abstract, layered effect of space, shape and texture, interlocked with a delicate palette.
“The buildings themselves are industrial cathedrals with specific shapes integral to the whisky-making process.” Euan McGregor
And if you fancy a dram of Lagavulin 16 year old, expect a blend of figs, sherry, peat smoke, Lapsang Souchong with a long spicy finish.
On the island of Orkney, Scapa distillery (1884) stands beside a natural harbour, Scapa Flow (Old Norse for ‘bay of the long isthmus’). Scapa Clouds is a finely balanced composition, with such subtle shades of blues, green, grey, brown, placing the Distillery within the environment and weather under a threatening sky.
A modern image of a majestic monument linking the past to present day with restful stillness. Scapa Skiren malt whisky offers a blend of “honey, fresh cream, apple, anise, crushed nuts, juicy pear and lemon peel.”
Travel on to Caithness to visit the Old Pulteney distillery, Wick in the north east corner of Scotland. Like Edward Hopper’s American landscapes, the focus here is on solitary buildings, closed doors and an empty road devoid of people and daily working life.
With such precision of angles and purity of colour, this tranquil scene has a filmic quality with sharp shafts of light and shadow.
The Speyside region stretches along the River Spey in Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey. Glenlivet was founded in 1824, operating almost continuously since then to become the highest selling single malt whisky in the United States and the second largest selling brand globally.
This semi-abstract illustration has a stark winter mood with its ice-cold, blueish-white sheen. The minimalist architectural design is like a surreal sculpture amidst the surrounding dramatic environment. Glenlivet 12 year old offers a smooth texture and sweet flavour of vanilla custard, honey, banana, pineapple, apples and a little cinnamon.
Visit a few more distilleries too around this captivating exhibition, as well as land and seascapes from Gardenstown to St. Abbs with masterly perspective.
Reminiscent of those vintage pre-war British Rail posters to entice people to take a trip to cities and seaside, McGregor has a modernist painterly, aesthetic style: poignant, romantic, scenic views are graphically distilled to create a timeless sense of place.
This is about heritage and the haunting legacy of the craftsmanship by the masters of malt over the centuries. Pour a glass of your favourite dram to sip slowly as you savour an evocative journey around Scotchland from rural glen to the edge of the sea.
“Water of Life” by Euan McGregor – 4th April to 6th June 2020
View on line: http://www.doubtfiregallery.com
tel. 07902 307147
New Address – opening soon
Doubtfire Gallery and Frame Creative Design studio
28 North West Circus Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6TP
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