Callan at 60 – An exhibition of evocative and elegant Figurative paintings by Damian Callan @ the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh
As he celebrates his 60th birthday in December 2020, Damian Callan can reflect on a most successful career, specialising in figurative painting and portraits, teaching art classes for adults and children, and as the author of two books, Paint Like Degas and Paint Like Renoir.
This exhibition is partly a retrospective collection from the past twenty-five years (kindly lent by the owners), which are complemented by new sketches and paintings. The subjects for these figurative scenes are his wife Ruth, their four children, cousins and friends while on holiday in Argyll and Outer Hebrides.
Damian Callan has followed in the tradition of two Scottish masters in the genre of painting children. Joan Eardley is renowned for her iconic portraits of the twelve Samson bairns who lived near her Glasgow studio. Born in 1835, William McTaggart grew up on a remote farm in Aros, Kintyre, a memory which would later permeate the subject of his paintings: “the fisherfolk of his past and a recurring vision of children playing in the surf …rosy cheeked kids, bathed in perpetual summer sun.“ Lachlan Goudie, The Story of Scottish Art.
Here too are Callan’s painterly reflections to illustrate the family’s seaside adventures in the summer sun, between 2003 to 2014, from Skipness, Kintyre to the Isles of Berneray. These colourful “snapshot” images capture the joyful sense of freedom as the kids run on the beach, play in the sea, and gather cockles in rock pools.
There is such a tangible feeling of movement in their exuberant, arm waving gestures, as the kids jump and splash in the waves. Several charming paintings show the fun of messing about in boats and rowing a dinghy.
The process starts with photographs and from these prints, sketches are made to create a loose impression of the realistic images, and then finally, working on the composition in oil on canvas, panel or paper. Callan has perfected the inventive use of a printmaker’s roller, to add texture to the surface of the paint to depict the shimmering water and frothy white surf.
These timeless images of happy carefree days bring a real sense of nostalgia for our own childhood, whatever age we are. Children and Lighthouse in particular, has a vintage quality, reminiscent of favourite stories such as Swallows and Amazons and the Famous Five adventures by Enid Blyton.
Fast forward to 2020 and a diverse range of new work – seascapes, figurative sketches and fashionable frocks with oil paintings, small studies and prints for sale.
From the earlier style of composition with impressionistic, smudges of brush strokes, there is now a bolder, brighter approach with vivid colour and clarity.
As shown in Running In and Running Out, these are gleeful moments of youthful energy with a fine depiction of movement, in Callan’s distinctive, characteristic painterly style.
Escape is a lovely picture of a wee boy, standing in the boat as if pretending to be a Venetian gondolier, as the children look out for fish and crabs along the seashore. Again, the vision of carefree, childhood fun, evoking the nostalgic world of Enid Blyton.
Damian Callan has long been influenced by the figurative paintings of Edgar Degas, whose work he examined and explored in academic detail, to write his book, “Paint Like Degas.”
“Degas was spectacularly inventive in his approach to composition,” he says, “Movement characterizes many of his subjects –the dancers, the racehorses – .. .. the pattern and rhythm of repeated figures, the dancers in a line on the Barre.”
With similar, elegant, Degas-esque mood and manner, there is a series of beautifully composed paintings of Damian’s wife Ruth, pinning up her hair, dressing and posing in silky, floaty cocktail gowns.
These are delightful, intimate portraits of the artist’s slender model, as she zips up a blue dress and shows off her posh, crimson-plum frock – humorously described as Lockdown Bedroom Dress. Sadly all dressed up and nowhere to go for a night out at the Ballroom or go to the Ballet.
“Callan at 60” is a most impressive retrospective of his career, from the tranquil, domestic portrait, Ruth, Daffodils and Kettle, (1995), through a time-travelling trip around atmospheric seascapes to the recent Vogue-style fashion shoot.
William McTaggart painted young children to portray “an optimistic symbol of renewal and rebirth.” Likewise, Damian Callan has preserved his memories to portray family life and the innocence of childhood with imaginative vision, humour and heartfelt love.
Callan at 60 @ Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
11th – 17th December, 2020 – open daily, 11am to 6pm.
A well illustrated catalogue with an inspiring introduction by Ruth Callan is available at the gallery.
For more information, view a Gallery of images and details of Online events, see the website:
Monday 14th December: 10am, Live Virtual Tour of Exhibition
Tuesday 15th December: 10am. Artist’s Talk & Short Film with contributions from collectors
Wednesday 16th December: 10am, Painting Demonstration
“Ethereal Silence:” Paintings of Edinburgh through the seasons by Jamie Primrose @ Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh
“Edinburgh isn’t so much a city, more a way of life… I doubt I’ll ever tire of exploring Edinburgh, on foot or in print.” Ian Rankin
Jamie Primrose is sure to agree with this sentiment, as he is unlikely to stop exploring Edinburgh on foot or in oil paint.
Springtime in Edinburgh, 2020 was rather a different city than usual. Like all of us, isolated at home, the artist Jamie Primrose was unable to visit his studio to work. But he could get out and about to observe, photograph and sketch his favourite places and picturesque scenes at a time of complete solitude and tranquillity.
This collection of over fifty original oil paintings, aptly entitled “Ethereal Silence,” is based on his wanderings around the city this year, celebrating Edinburgh through the seasons.
Follow in Jamie’s footsteps on those daily walks during lockdown around his local neighbourhood, Marchmont, and across the wide open space of the Meadows, flourishing in pink blossom. The magical effect of shadows cast by the sun through the trees is captured so well in such works as “Hazy Afternoon Light in The Meadows” and “Spring light on Jawbone Walk.”
At different times of the day and evening he would trek around the craggy landscape of Arthur Seat, and to the top of Calton Hill for a panoramic view across the city of spires. Explorations on foot too around the Old Town, such as the charming curve of Victoria Street, and a stroll through Princes Street Gardens in the summer sun. Primrose’s favourite places now transformed into works of art.
Jamie Primrose is a master at depicting the shimmering soft glow of dawn light as captured in a series of paintings such as “Sunrise from Arthur’s Seat,
and at the end of the day, experience the coral pink and mauve tinted clouds in “Sunset Skyline over Edinburgh.”
Not quite sure of the meteorological term for a mackerel sky, but the distinctive cloud patterns in many cityscapes brilliantly reflect a sense of movement and atmosphere.
Most impressive is “Sunrise over Edinburgh Castle,” a moment in time to catch the golden glimmer of a new blue sky day. It illustrates perfectly the poetic description of the Castle:
“.. this gigantic rock lifts itself above all that surrounds it, and breaks upon the sky with the same commanding blackness of mingled crags, cliffs, buttresses, and battlements.” J. K. Lockhart.
On this painterly journey through the year, you can almost feel the shift in temperature too, by the clarity of light and brightness of Summer sun to the icy grey chill in “Winter Morning looking down Middle Meadow Walk.”
These are just a few key highlights from this captivating and finely composed collection. The exhibition is at the Dundas Street Gallery but if you are unable to visit, you can view the online gallery and take a video tour of the show.
Limited Edition Prints:
In addition to these new original paintings, there are framed limited edition prints of The Meadows, Old Town scenes and city skylines. Also available, East Lothian and West Coast seascapes, atmospheric vistas of Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Venice, & South of France.
Jamie Primrose: ‘Ethereal Silence’
Thursday 5th – Saturday 14th November 2020
Open Monday to Friday, 11am to 6pm by appointment
To book your appointment contact: Mari Primrose
Saturday – walk in visits from 12 noon – 5pm
The Dundas Street Gallery
6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
View the works on the website: https://jamieprimrose.com/latest/index.html
Video tour of the gallery: https://vimeo.com/476041741
Botanical paintings by Julie Croft & photographs by Alexander Van Der Byl, Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh.
Solace – as defined in the dictionary, a noun to mean “comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness.”
During this difficult, disruptive year to normal life, work and travel, many people have been inspired by nature – whether city park, country ramble or a wind-blown stroll along a beach. This strange, surreal time at home has given the opportunity to listen to bird song and observe blossoming flowers in Spring and now the changing trees in Autumn.
Julie Croft studied illustration at Leicester Polytechnic, and then developed her artistic technique and medium as a mural artist during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Today, her paintings are on a much smaller scale, working at her home in Edinburgh.
The theme of Nature and the Landscape has inspired Julie over the past few months, during the worst times of lockdown, the brighter days through the summer and now heading through the Autumn into Winter. Here is a most wonderful series of her botanical illustrations and miniature landscapes.
So take a look back to the emerging flourish of plants during April and May with charming watercolours such as Spring Greens. These slender twigs with their tiny leaves and burst of buds is beautifully sketched and painted in soft colours with such delicate detail.
Moving on swiftly into June and July, blossom blooms with a whiff of Summer Scent from three flowers, which look like, a pink poppy, white daisies and lilac grape hyacinth. They do transport you into the garden on a warm summer day.
On a walk in October, it’s all about berries, conkers and all the leaves turning golden brown. This is another charming trio, with a small, dry, curled up leaf, in Autumn Berries.
And a wonderful collection of golden, sand and burgundy leaves fallen from the trees in the soft shades of the Fall.
Winter Trees is a lovely pencil and watercolour sketch which perfectly sums up the chilly days at the dark end of a year in Nature.
The wet dawn inks are doing their blue dissolve.
On their blotter of fog the trees
Seem a botanical drawing —
Memories growing, ring on ring,
A series of weddings.
Winter Trees, Sylvia Plath
Julie Croft also paints atmospheric land and seascapes – watercolours on Daler Rowney paper which create a richly textured backdrop. These intimate, small scale scenes are so pleasing to the eye.
At the other side of the gallery is a collection of photographs by Alexander Van Der Byl who is in his final year as a Photography Student at Edinburgh College of Art.
A successful career is already on the cards as this year he was awarded the Astaire Art Prize 2020. It is presented for outstanding undergraduate work by a third or fourth-year student at the ECA, founded by Mark Astaire, a University of Edinburgh Politics graduate and investment banking professional. This year four winners were chosen from a shortlist of twenty artists, each receiving £250.
“I could see all the students produced such wonderful and varied collections of work. It was difficult, but I had so much fun trying to select just four works!” Mark Astaire
“ … work that is sophisticated, intelligent and dynamic.” Gordon Brennan, School of Art Painting Lecturer
Van Der Byl’s award winning photograph is entitled The Anticipation of Change, which was taken in a former carpet shop in Leith; shabby, peeling flock wallpaper, tartan lino, blue carpet, gas meter, the table laid with a teapot and glasses, beneath a Vettriano print of the “The Billy Boys” on the wall. A cold, empty room perhaps, but there is a sense of pride and belonging in what is someone’s business.
This photograph is part of a series called “Return to Sender, No Such Address” of ten Hahnemühle German Etching Photograhic prints, “documenting the process of leaving a domestic space, (and) explores a presence which is transient and short lasting.”
Home from Work focuses on another empty room, with an enticing warm light shining through the open door, perhaps the kitchen and a meal being prepared for the person arriving back home at the end of the day. With shimmering shadows and a half hidden portrait, this is such a haunting image.
Again, a fascinating glimpse of a domestic scene, with a television, an empty bookshelf, plant, vase, lamp in Rocking Horse Winner – the blurred effect of a child’s toy horse cleverly depicting a flash of movement.
Here are also a few black and white portraits, which capture the thoughtful facial expression of the subject, in a quiet, quick, snap shot moment.
From Julie’s painterly nature walk through gardens, woodland and the seashore, enter Alexander’s contemplative world of deserted rooms and streets. With their distinctively different artistic vision, they share a theme of nostalgic memory, time past and present, the experience of isolation and silence, with a comforting, joyful sense of peace. Solace indeed.
SOLACE – Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas St, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
17th – 24th October, 2020. 11am – 6pm daily.
Exhibition closes Saturday 24th, 2pm
Land, Sea and Sky – majestic coastal paintings by Steven Hood at the Dundas Street, Gallery, Edinburgh
It is not only this sense of place but the uniqueness of experience at a specific moment in time. These new paintings offer a kind of permanence to that experience, to what was observed and more importantly for what was felt. Steven Hood
Steven Hood studied drawing and painting at the Edinburgh College of Art (1985-89) and has enjoyed a prestigious career with regular solo exhibitions at private galleries, and amongst numerous others, at the Society of Scottish Artists, Noble Grossart Award and the Royal Scottish Academy.
Living and working in the Edinburgh, the foreshore around Granton has been a favourite stomping ground since childhood. With such a close affinity to the iconic views over Firth of Forth, here is a magnificent, moody seascape, ‘Haar over Cramond Island.’
For those who don’t know the word, Haar: noun – a cold sea mist off the North Sea. Just a vague glimpse of the distant island can be seen through a hazy light struggling to break through the mass of greyness.
The fine perspective in ‘Haar Enveloping Inchkeith Island’ leads the eye from the grassy sandy cover, rocks and lapping waves to the slither of an island lost in the fog on the horizon. These two mesmerising scenes, enveloped in a semi opaque, soft light, convey the chilly, swirling haar, with such delicate atmospheric quality.
Following in the brushstrokes of the pioneering Impressionists, Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh et al, Steven Hood likes to paint natural landscapes outside “en plein air,” for a personal, direct response to swiftly changing light and weather.
A recent trip to the Aberdeenshire coastline shows he is a master at capturing the movement and patterning of clouds. Like the artist, in “Evening Sky, Gamrie Bay,” near Gardenstown, we too stand on the beach under a wide shimmering sky in the rosy dusk.
Van Gogh was fascinated by wheat fields, painted again and again with cypress trees, reaper or birds. Hood also depicts the glorious golden harvest, the tall stalks bent over in the sea breeze in “Cliff Top Wheat Fields, Aberdeenshire.” The blocks of bold colour are most effective.
Observing the light over the seashore at the end of the day is very much a recurring theme, such as the ambient detail in “Setting Sun, the Mouth of the River Almond.” The dark waves and grey rain clouds contrast with a glimmer of pink rays casting a faint glint on the water.
Most inspiring is a duet of sunsets, “snapped” quickly over a few minutes on 26th June, looking over to Fife. This is all part of his aim to seize the likeness of a place at a specific moment, akin to a painterly photograph.
A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone.
― John Steinbeck, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’
Turner created hundreds of sketches and paintings of different weather conditions, especially clouds and rain such as “Beach, English coast” (1835).
With similar powerful abstract expression, “Rain Clouds over Inchkeith Island,” the slanting, lashing downfall dramatically evoked with a flurry of thick, brash, brushstrokes.
Art is more than a visual response, and Steven Hood clearly conveys the enriching emotional experience, a real sense of place.
These paintings are even more powerful when viewed in the gallery and this is a great space to stand back and observe the wild natural beauty of the Scottish coastline. They recall so poignantly the sentiment of Masefield’s poem, “I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky.”
Land, Sea and Sky – Steven Hood
Saturday 10th October to Wednesday 14th October 2020
10.30am – 5.30pm
Dundas Street Gallery. 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Social distancing measures will allow for 6 people in the gallery at any given time. Masks must be worn and hand sanitiser will be provided.
Visit the website to view the exhibition www.stevenhoodartist.com
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:
Enchanting Vistas – an exhibition of classical city landmarks around Edinburgh by Jamie Primrose with contemporary vision.
“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.” Alexander McCall Smith
Jamie Primrose is certainly a prolific artist who presents two very different exhibitions at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh each year, usually in early summer and late Autumn. City, land and seascapes have taken us over the past fifteen years or so on a journey to South America, Highlands and Islands of Scotland, the sundrenched Italian and French Rivieras and waterways of Venice. But most of all his artistic heart remains firmly in his home town of Edinburgh.
This showcase of paintings and drawings, Enchanting Vistas, presents fifty five of his favourite scenes from distinctive viewpoints – Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat, Grassmarket and the Mound. The theme clearly reflects the sheer beauty of Edinburgh’s unchanging sense of history and architectural heritage.
“The Scottish capital represents a strong element … and it is firmly ingrained in my psyche. I am continually drawn to capturing a timeless view of the majestic city ..” Jamie Primrose
Here you can experience the shifting times of day from dawn to dusk with a series of Turner-esque sunsets – wild streaks of coral and salmon-pink tinted skies with a rosy glow bursting on the horizon: “Sunset skyline over Edinburgh” showing off its architectural splendour and “Winter skies over the city from Calton Hill” are majestic views to portray the shimmering, shapely silhouette of the Castle and tall, elegant church spires.
With an impressionistic sweep of the paintbrush and grey-blue colour palette, “Ephemeral Skies” is a spectacular panorama, the sharp streaks of white light creating an almost surreal picture of mesmerising, heavenly beauty.
J.M.W. Turner was also captivated by this skyline from Calton Hill as depicted in a misty light a century ago in 1819.
While the Meadows and Inverleith Park have often been recurring subject, this is the first time Primrose has painted Princes Street Gardens with the Ross Fountain, Scott Monument and the avenue of trees. This tranquil green space is captured in the early morning with shafts of pale sun glistening on the autumn leaves and lawn, dominated by the towering presence of Castle Rock.
The craggy, grassy mound of Arthur’s Seat offers a rural getaway from the buzz of city life, seen here in “Late Afternoon over Dunsapie Loch” and “Enchanting Vista, Late Light over St. Margaret’s Loch”, where the water dapples under the fading light, with feathery clouds fleeting across the sky. This is the signature work in the exhibiton.
The famous Raeburn painting of Reverend Robert Wilson, the Skating Minister” on Duddingston Loch comes to mind – you almost expect to see him appearing in a ghostly image in the shadows.
The colourful, curving, cobbled Victoria Street leading from George IV Bridge to the Grassmarket is a visitor attraction for antiques, books, cheese, whisky, tailored tweed and pubs. In various paintings, the empty street is viewed at night, the sweeping row of shops glowing under a dark indigo sky.
An unusual and perfect viewpoint is from the Terrace at the National Museum of Scotland, offering a marvellous perspective over the city with the vast expanse of blue and gold sky – enchanting vistas indeed.
From the University’s Old College to the Grassmarket, Royal Mile to Pentland Hills, there is a tangible atmospheric sense of place – both in the oil paintings in soft subtle colours as well as a series of black and white sketches in Indian ink on paper. “Late Afternoon on the Mound” depicts the turrets of the Assembly Hall and gracious design of Ramsay Garden. The draughtsmanship of the architecture is brilliantly composed with such fine lines and painterly precision.
Timeless views of the city indeed in this impressive focus on the World Heritage grandeur of the Old and New Towns – iconic, classical landmarks as portrayed by Raeburn and Turner, revisited with fresh, contemporary vision.
Enchanting Vistas by Jamie Primrose
Dundas Street Gallery, 6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Friday 8th November to Saturday 16th November, 2019
Monday to Friday, 11am-6pm. Saturday, 11am-5pm.
For more information and contact details:
Private Commissions are also welcome – perhaps a favourite landscape or your own street. (expect a waiting list they are so popular) Limited Edition Prints and Black Indian Ink original drawings are available too – the ideal Christmas present for family, friends and your home.
A serene sense of place is captured in “Moments in Time” – by Jamie Primrose: Dundas Street Gallery, 7 – 15 June, 2019
It was in June, 2004 when Jamie Primrose, launched his first solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery. That inaugural showcase of his distinctive city streets and seascapes was the start of bi-annual events, which this month celebrates the 15th anniversary.
“Moments in Time” features sixty paintings selected from 2004 to 2019, as a colourful and enriching retrospective, focusing especially on dramatic observations of sky, sun and sea, day and night from sunrise to sunset.
The tranquil beauty of East Lothian is illustrated by painterly panoramas of wide, sandy beaches, the sweep of the bay at North Berwick with the grey crag of the Bass Rock out at sea.
“There began to fall a greyness on the face of the sea; little dabs of pink and red, like coals of a slow fire.
With the growing of the dawn I could see it clearer and clearer, the straight crags painted with sea-birds’ droppings like a morning frost, the sloping top of it, green with grass.”
Robert Louis Stevenson: The Bass Rock from “Catriona”
This quotation so aptly describes the colour palette of pink, grey and white oils in these paintings of the Bass Rock and North Berwick. Like RLS, I loved spending summer holidays and days out in North Berwick as a child. This peaceful seaside resort has hardly changed.
What is so impressive is how Primrose perfects meteorological realism of floating, fluffy clouds across the wide expanse of sky.
Further along the East Coast towards Edinburgh, there are views of Portobello Beach, majestic structures of the Forth Bridges and the quaint village of Cramond.
Travel on to the North West Highlands near Oban, gateway to the Hebrides, for the great escape to the wild, empty shores of Loch Melfort, Port Appin and Lismore.
A series of stunning seascapes depict endless skies, shimmering shapes of distant islands and the rolling hills of Mull on the horizon. With such exquisite quality of light, streaming through stormy clouds, you can easily imagine standing there on the shore, tasting the salt sea air blowing in the breeze.
Next take a trip to the south of France – suitably known as the Cote d’Azur – where for generations of artists, from Picasso and Peploe to Primrose, the Tiffany-blue sea under a glistening glow of light, has been a constant attraction. Feel the warmth of the summer sun in scenes of the charming resort towns of Antibes, Nice and Villefranch, bathed in a pale pure light.
Further along the coast is the Italian Riviera with the colourful historic towns of the Cinque Terre, such as “Late Afternoon at Manorala” perched on the cliff top surrounded by verdant vineyards.
Portofino, known as a summer playground for wealthy lifestyle and leisure, curves around a half moon bay, the harbour lined by super yachts and fishing boats, beside a row of designer shops, bars and restaurants.
The American journalist Robert Benchley sent a celebrated telegram to his editor at the New Yorker after arriving in Venice for the first time: “Streets full of water. Please advise.” He obviously had no prior knowledge of this historic city of islands!
Regarded as the most romantic city in the world, the meandering, unchanging waterways of Venice have inspired writers and painters over the centuries to capture its mesmerising magic.
“Last Light on the Grand Canal, Venice” is a magnificent scene composed with such clarity in subtle shades of terracotta, cream and ochre: graceful palazzos, arched windows and church domes in a perfect perspective is a work of architectural draughtsmanship. In the centre, the Grand Canal shimmers in this quiet moment before dusk.
“It is a city of mirrors, a city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone.” Erica Jong on Venice
Here too are iconic images of the Thames flowing through London, magical, moody studies with Turneresque tones in soft shades of blue and grey.
This collection of oil paintings by Jamie Primrose highlights with meticulous detail, the subtle nuances of sun, light, shade and shadow, which he has developed over the past fifteen years, into his own masterly artistic style.
“For me a landscape hardly exists at all as a landscape, because its appearance is changing in every moment, but it lives through its ambience, through the air and the light, which vary constantly.”—Claude Monet
Do visit the Dundas Street Gallery soon to experience a marvellous tour around these dreamlike destinations from Scotland to La Serenissima, each composition captured with such a serene sense of place and intangible timelessness.
The Dundas Street Gallery,
6a Dundas Street,
Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Opening hours: Daily, 11am – 6pm.
Saturday 15th June, 11am – 5pm.
For more information on this work, private commissions and prints, see www.jamieprimrose.com
The Juniper Collective @ Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh: a shining showcase of refreshingly innovative artwork
The Juniper Collective is a new group of five women artists who became friends and creative collaborators having met while studying at Edinburgh College of Art and Leith School of Art. Their joint exhibition this week coincides, by chance or design, with International Women’s Day on Thursday 8th March. This global event, which began in New York almost a century ago, celebrates women’s achievements, calling for gender equality in all aspects of education, work, society and politics.
It seems extraordinary that it was in 1924 when William McDougall founded the Scottish Society of Women Artists to assist his daughter, Lily McDougall, a talented painter who, being female, was not recognised by or able to join professional art associations.
So most timely to celebrate the most impressive work of Vibha Pankaj, Sara Nichols, Sarah Winkler, Jo Scobie and Kirstin Heggie who have formed the Juniper Collective and, despite the “Beast from the East” which swept into Edinburgh. But these artists were determined that the show must go on, transporting their work through the snow, to open the exhibition on Saturday 3 March at Dundas Street Gallery.
This spacious venue is ideal to showcase such a diverse range of work around the walls. I wandered slowly around in a clockwise fashion beginning with the richly textured landscapes bv Vibha Pankaj. A lover of the countryside – Flotterstone, Pentlands and Loch Tay – she re-imagines the hills and shoreline as an Impressionistic image, working in multi-media, (egg tempura, acrylic and plaster of paris) to depict the rough terrain of sand and rocks.
The layered media creates a most impressive 3D collage effect, with vibrant gold, terracotta and yellow tones to capture the shifting tones of shade and sunlight.
Sarah Winkler also presents a colourful series of landscape paintings which depict extraordinary realism such as “Lichen on Rock Seam, Arisaig” and “Seaweed algae, Silver Sands of Morar.” Detailed geological and botanical representations of a seashore where you almost feel you could touch the soft moss and salty slimy seaweed on the sandy beach.
There are also fine linocuts, and her watercolour & ink sketches of barren hills and snowy mountains may look as if they have been scribbled at speed, but this is delicately crafted, skilful art.
Having trained as a designer of jewellery, Kirstin Heggie has recently turned her attention to landscapes and abstract figures. With luggage labels for each title, and smart thick white frames, her acrylic paintings show cool coloured beach scenes and distant horizon.
Placing a hazy figure or couple in the picture adds perspective and a filmic quality where the shimmering shades of clouds and waves are created with thick smears of brush strokes across the canvas. Most atmospheric.
Bringing a glimpse of Springtime to the Dundas Street Gallery are the pretty flower paintings by Sara Nichols – soft pink hydrangeas as seen on the coastline of Massachusetts, a place which has inspired the subject of her work. These decorative watercolours could certainly be used on fabric for lovely home furnishings or even fashion.
Most inventive are her collage paintings, adding scraps of found paper such as the timetable of the tides to bring a true sense of place, the changing of force of the sea and our natural world.
All things bright and beautiful is the theme for Jo Scobie’s bold, brash abstract compositions. She studied textile design at Duncan of Jordanstone and her love of colour is clearly illustrated in these patterned paintings.
Each one is Untitled, so the viewer can observe and quietly contemplate to detect any particular “meaning” or subject.. but that is not the point. This is pure abstract art to express mood and movement, like a firework display or a rainbow bursting open with splashes of purple, red, orange, green and blue.
Vibha, Sarah, Kirstin, Sara and Jo may not (yet) be the Famous Five of the Edinburgh art scene, but they all portray such refreshing, distinctive, creative talent. Do visit the Dundas Street Gallery this week to view the exciting debut exhibition of the Juniper Collective.. With affordable prices (from around £60 – £250), you may well be enticed to purchase one of these impressive works of art.!
The Juniper Collective @ Dundas Street Gallery,
6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Saturday 3 -Thursday 8 March – open daily 10am – 6pm.
“Tread softly on the shore, step lightly at the margins,
where the sky is thin and land meets sea,
and heaven touches earth”.
from Tread Softly on the Shore, Sue Mayfield
Anne Butler studied at Leith School of Art, Edinburgh and now lives and works in Dumfries and Galloway. She describes her work as a free and loose style responding to the Scottish landscape, weather and seasons. “Colour is very important to me. I think colour can change moods. I paint in acrylic, building up layers and scraping back to reveal the colours beneath”.
Sue Mayfield is a writer of many talents, publishing award winning fiction and non fiction for children and adults. Her most recent books are Under the Sea (2012) and Hill of the Angels (2016). Around the gallery is a series of lyrical poetry to reflect the dramatic mood of Anne’s paintings.
Colour is clearly the dominant aspect of Anne’s vibrant green and blue land and seascapes. Country fields are created like a patchwork quilt with bold abstract cubist style blocks, representing yellow summer corn, verdant green grasses and russet red leaves of Autumn.
“Full Moon over Blue” is a marvellous scene, reminiscent of Joan Eardley’s “Catterline in Winter” – pale moon, snow and clifftop cottages.
What the viewer will appreciate so much is how these dreamlike illustrations of land and sea are evoked with such emotion through the power of the written word.
Most impressive are the wild energetic waves and splashing spray of the sea in “Taste the Salt Drench,” as described beautifully in Sue’s poem, “A Thousand Thousand Tears.”
To cross the ocean, face the deep….
Taste the salt drench of a thousand thousand tears.
from A Thousand Thousand Tears, Sue Mayfield
There is a recurring theme of time, memories, ghosts of the past, reflected in an underlying narrative about fishermen, ships which pass in the night, the flow of the seasons, Spring flowers to migrating geese.
While Anne paints the grey expanse of skies, stormy seas, boats and birds, Sue captures each vivid view in verse:
Out of the blue … a man emerges bearing fish,
a wish, a skylark sings, a heron uncrumples sailcloth wings.
from Out of the Blue, Sue Mayfield
There is such poignancy in her perfectly crafted phrases, richly reminiscent of the short, sharp poetic style of Sylvia Plath observing rural life, tulips and honey bees in her Devon garden.
These paintings and poetry create an artistic and literary dialogue, where images of moorland, meadows, sandy beach and ocean waves are echoed both in colour on the canvas and words on the page.
The Dundas Street Gallery,
6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh
2 – 7 September 2017 – daily, 10am – 6pm.
for more information:
“New Growth”: Abstract, Conceptual and Figurative Paintings by Davy Macdonald. Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh
“Until this point of my artistic journey I have focussed predominately on figurative painting together with landscape and still life studies. I now find my art evolving in new directions and recently have become interested in the development of abstract and conceptual art”
With his own unique and innovative series of artistic genres, Davy Macdonald has been exhibiting in Edinburgh and London since 2009. He has specialised in figurative works set within an historic or cultural background for his excellent Heritage Series such as Harris Tweed and Herring Lassies. These are stunning, dramatic paintings which tell the story of the women who wove the wool, against a backdrop of wild Hebridean seascapes, as well as the iconic fisherwomen at Newhaven harbour, shucking oysters and salting herring.
This exhibition, “New Growth” is a diverse and dramatic range of Figurative, Abstract and Conceptual work, which clearly show how he has developed his style with a renewed creative spirit. His fascination with history, as illustrated with his impressive narrative paintings, is also matched by an interest in mythology and symbolism.
A new departure is venturing into abstract paintings – bold, vibrant patterns which express a freedom of movement, colour and geometric shape. “3 Ways North” is a humorous, quirky representation of a map with the sign North, shown in three positions. Hang the picture any which way, to view the landscape of meandering roads, undulating hills, where the eye follows the compass direction upwards, right and left.
Follow Davy on an artistic journey, real or imagined. Reflecting on the political and environmental challenges which the world is now facing, “Weeping Earth” is a poignant and powerful illustration.
Picture the bleak scene: a wild sky of threatening dark clouds, a mass of grey, black and white captured in bold brushstrokes. Streaks of crimson red appear to drip like blood on to the stark, dry desert below, scorched in the heat. Simple in structure, it packs a punch in its vibrancy and apocolyptic vision.
With his interest in Chinese art, “Jade Mine” is another striking conceptual image, reflecting the Yin and Yang theory of passive and active energy. Against the dark green of high mountain peaks, there’s the fiery glare of a red sun. Jade gemstones hold a significant place in the Chinese culture, believed to be a bridge between heaven and hell, symbolising knowledge, perfection, constancy and immortality.
Japanese cinema from the 1970s is also the subject of a few works, featuring such characters as such as Lone Wolf and Lady Snowblood. This cult classic movie from director, Toshiya Fujita, a young woman (Meiko Kaji), trained as an assassin to seek revenge for the murders of her father and brother; the choreographed swordplay is described as visual poetry.
Macdonald has returned to his Heritage series of the Herring Lassies, evolving the theme by placing two or three young women in a less defined landscape. They stand, holding baskets of fish, gazing out at distant hills at sunrise, perhaps remembering and dreaming of their island home.
Rather than the naturalistic setting of Newhaven harbour, this could be the Scottish Highlands, Outer Hebrides, Finland, Norway, Iceland. These are most impressive figurative-landscapes, evocative of a freeze frame in a film, a moment in time, expressing a quiet emotional sense of nostalgia and loss.
Around the gallery are new Portraits such as the artist’s muse, Evelyn Nesbit, the fair-skinned beauty from Tarentum, Philadelphia.
After her father died, leaving her Scottish-Irish family in debt, Nesbit became a muse, modelling, fully clothed,for artists. In June 1900, she moved to New York City and soon, she was the most in-demand model, for portraits and fashion advertising, in Manhattan.
There are also examples of the classic Gothic Edinburgh paintings, and from the original Herring Lassies series. These are popular images with prints and originals being shipped around the world across Europe to Beijing.
Having known Davy Macdonald’s work for a few years, this is an inspiring and imaginative exhibition of figurative and abstract oil paintings, as well as Limited Edition Prints. Prints are available to purchase from the ETSY shop. Each paper edition is strictly limited to 125. Canvas prints are limited to 18 for each series.
Commissions for Portraits are also welcome.
See more information at – www. dmacart.com
New Growth – Paintings by Davy Macdonald
Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Saturday 22 July to Saturday 29 July, 2017. 10am – 6pm daily.