Monday, 28 December 2009


Hi everyone.
Hope you all had a lovely, relaxing Christmas.... I trust you didn't overdo it with the turkey.  I am very excited readers: today sees the arrival of all the new work by award winning artist Fiona Jappy. She and her dad are making the journey down from Elgin as we speak. I am relieved the weather has improved as it was not looking good for them last week.  Anyway, it is very exciting for me as the Fiona Jappy & Olivia Irvine exhibition will be the first of 2010 at Union Gallery. It kicks off a new year, and I have good feelings about the next 12 months with lots of hopes and ambitions for both gallery and artists. It will be wonderful to finally see Fiona's & Olivia's work on the walls....both have been working flat out for months and I am very grateful for their efforts.
This is also a special exhibition as the 3 of us have been connected through art before.....a whopping 10 years ago at Edinburgh College of Art. It is great for us to have been reunited through the gallery. Indeed, many friendships and partnerships have been re kindled and made in the last 6 months.
Will keep you posted on more from Fiona and Olivia soon.
Oh, there will be a nice pressie for Union Gallery's first footer (we will be open Jan 2nd); this will become something of a tradition. Again will keep you posted.

"Distant" by Fiona Jappy. Melancholy yet very beautiful.
They have arrived safe and sound and bearing little bundles of joy! I have to say not only has Fiona worked tirelessly for this exhibition she's been uber orgainised. Even her wrapping is precise and neat.
Bundles of joy:

Wow this is like Christmas all over again!

This is Fiona Jappy. Please take a look at her green coat. Some of you might spot it making an appearance in one of her will have to find it yourselves....I'm not helping you.
I spent the remainder of the afternoon in my element playing with my new "toys".

Trying to single out some favourites which is not easy.  However, the following little gems could be contenders


"From Here to There".

Tomorrow will see the arrival of Olivia Irvine's work and it will be Christmas all over again. Super!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

So Farewell Then, My Splendid Stag.....

Some of you may remember a blog entry back in October about the amazing wire and recyled biscuit tin sculptures by the brilliant Barbara Franc.  I know I waxed lyrical about their quality and their beauty, and clearly I am not alone in seeing this.  Since first introducing Barbara's work to Scotland in October, a number of pieces have found a new home in these parts. 
The latest to move on to pastures new is Splendid Stag; that charming, ironic and handsome chap that has been greeting everyone as they come into the gallery over the last two months.
Last Friday, I delivered Splendid Stag to his new residence in the Borders - a beautiful converted Kirk, where he has the company of a fine Alsation and where he looks absolutely at home, standing guard over the lovely galleried hall.
Here he is, on the floor in the gallery, getting ready to be wrapped for the journey,
And here he is, in situ in his new home

Although you can't tell from this image, it really is the perfect place for him.
One of the things I love about Barbara's work is the painstaking attention to detail that is evident everywhere and which always add to the pleasure of owning a work of art.  For instance, we only recently found out that Barbara signs each piece by writing her surname in wire somewhere on the body of the sculpture...all you have to is find it.

In the case of Splendid Stag, it is on his neck, whereas on Little Donkey it's to be found on his stomach.  I have never seen this on a wire sculpture before, and we have had great fun looking for it on each piece we have had.
There are still a couple of Barbara Franc sculptures in the gallery, and I am delighted to be able to tell you that there will be more arriving in 2010.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Favourite things

Hi everyone! I have a confession to make: I again found myself sneaking into the gallery early this morning to look at the paintings. So I thought I would point out some of the "treasures" hanging in the gallery then you could understand why I like spending so much time with them.
Kick starting with this one...

"Autumn on the banking" by Janet Melrose.
There's not so many of Janet's paintings left now. Everyone who has looked at them can instantly see that they are quite special. The above is a firm favourite of mine (please Santa pleeease!)
And this...

Georgie Young's "Paisley Hen". This piece has got me. As a landscape painter I am probably a little biased about Georgie's work in that I will always swing towards her fab landscapes. However, this particular painting gets a lot of attention from me. The colours are not 100% accurate in this jpeg but take my word for it, they are delicious. Red and green can sometimes clash, but I am fixated on that gorgeous blood, ruby red that melts into the jade green background. Again, pure poetry! Love the title too.
All time favourite...

"The Dancers" by Drummond Mayo.
Who wouldn't want to spend time with this painting? He's so clever and a real "painter's painter".

"Skaters Pond" by John Carberry.
For a frosty, wintery painting this has such a warm glow about it. I think it's such a timeless, elegant painting. I must be an old romantic at heART! I know frames shouldn't be everything with a painting, but John has it spot on with this beauty; a simple limed wood number with a classy gold slip. Nice.
Dylan Lisle's dazzling dogs....


 I was really keen to see them on the black background. Stunning.
As the lovely new owner (hi) of one of these pieces pointed out to me "Dogs are not just for Christmas". Neither are paintings I guess!
Another animal number

"Feeding Time" by John Auldjo.
Yes not going to say too much about this number as we wouldn't want pa to get a big head now would we?
I will say the composition's pretty fab - it's a really calming and theraputic painting and I just know that cheeky fish is about to pop it's head out the water in search of scoff.
The enchantress...

"Girl With Moon" by David Hosie.
What a shame this is a poor image of a spectacular painting. It's behind glass so it's almost impossible to get a good image of it. I will sort this out as it's doing a disservice to a truly beautiful painting by a world class artist. Apologies David.
I find the gaze of this impossibly striking woman both haunting and captivating. She is sitting opposite me in the gallery just now and I gaze at her gaze a lot. You need to look at her for real to see what I mean about her be enchanting.
Might just show you a quick glimpse of my "boyfriend" again. He's not actually in the gallery at present however, I think about him a lot!

Yes I think it would be fair to say that I have fallen for "Falling Man". Indeed when you read everything I have said about him I think it would be fair to say it was love at first sight! I should think he will probably be completely dry now.
By no means last....

Beautiful "Reverie" by Frances Ross.
I was really keen to get this piece in as the first time I viewed it as a jpeg I just knew she was special and she doesn't dissapoint. She did give a certain gentelman a tough time though. He was torn between her and "Jennie". I understand does one decide between these ladies? I think he made the right decision though as he has patiently waited (thank you) for Jennie to come from the foundry for a few months.

"Jennie" by Frances Ross. I think they will be very happy together.
I have a secret method of gauging how well an exhibition is going....the more finger and nose prints on the glass door the better. The harder the polishing in the morning the better!
Obviously there's lot's of wonderful art work on display and it's tough trying to pick a selection. A point I am very proud of in the gallery is all the work is of an exceptional standard.
Oh, also to let you know during the Artist's Christmas party Derek McGuire suggested we have a first birthday party! Great idea: we are planning an amazing exhibition so we want everyone, artists, friends and gallery visitors alike to come along and celebrate with us. Can you tell I am getting excited already?!? It's a whole (short) six months away, plenty of time for me to get over excited. Rob will be pleased.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Calming, Inspiring & Uplifting

Hello everyone! I just wanted to say a bit more about the beautiful paintings of Janet Melrose which are currently on display in the gallery. I have to say the Christmas Exhibition is really stunning: a lot of top drawer work here.  I actually found myself sneaking in early on Sunday morning just so I could be with the paintings - perk of the job!
Janet's current work is based on the comings and goings that occur in her own walled garden, and the work appeals to me on many levels. I adore the tiny brids that feature in many of the pieces just as I love watching the birds that visit my own garden. It just shows there's so much goes on under our very noses.They are painted in a style that captures these fleeting, joyful, moments. It was this observation that inspired me to attempt to photograph some of the wildlife that I notice when out and about with the gallery hounds.

The image below is a detail from "Evening", showing a tiny but perfectly formed Chaffinch....I think. No doubt Janet will correct me if I have this wrong!

I didn't have much success with my nature photography. I always knew it was going to be a tough call with my remedial camera skills and I realise now that the presence of the gallery hounds crashing around was scaring every bird within a 10 mile radius. I did, however, manage to snap a few ducks who clearly knew my mutts can't swim.

I also managed this sorry attempt at snapping a Willow Tree by the Water of Leith.

Again Janet has done a better job at capturing the subject matter in the image below, which is a detail from "Underneath the Willows".

This is another detail from "Autumn on the banking".

So delicate and well observed.
We visited Janet's studio back in the summer as I wanted to see first hand her studio space. I knew it would be an important factor in her work, as it has indeed turned out to be. We were introduced to her own dogs, Pip & Oscar who also feature in her work and are constant companions when Janet works. Obviously they behave better than mine.

This is Pip patrolling his grounds. We were also introduced to "Chirpie", the hen that Janet rescued as she was being bullied and rejected by the other hens. I though that was so sweet! Chirpie was pretty cute and clearly enjoying her new, safer life. Having experimented with my nature shots, I now have even more admiration for Janet's work as I can appreciate the practical difficulties involved. Her subjects, the birds and dogs, are constantly on the move and of course, the birds in are so tiny. I will also say that Janet's work is the finest example of what I call a "less is more" style; the end result being a beautiful and delicate balance of getting it just so. The process of painting like this is quite stressful, it's the kind of work where one false move would be so obvious and ruin the work.
I also came across this winter blossom whilst out and about. This brave soul comes out in November and flowers right through to February. I think flower painter Jenny Matthews might like it.

This blossom also has a really lovely, delicate fragrance and in January I often make a point of seeking it out for an uplifting sniff! I can sometimes find January hard work after all the glizt and sparkle of Chritsmas has passed. It can seem really dark and gloomy.

Of course I'm not going to have that problem this year! That's because Union Gallery's January exhibition is something a bit special. Featuring the work of exceptional artists Olivia Irvine and Fiona Jappy, I am sure I will find myself sneaking in early more often to get an inspiring lift. Here's a quick preview!

"Reception" by Olivia Irvine.

"Wanderer" by Fiona Jappy.
Very beautiful, I am sure you will agree. Both Fiona and Olivia have worked incredibly hard for this exhibition and I can't wait to see it finally on the walls! If you find you are in need of a spot of colour in January you are very welcome to come in to be inspired too.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Amazing Sisters

In October, some of you may remember a post about the amazing wire sculptures of Barbara Franc. They have proved hugely popular in the gallery, with Lounging Lurcher and Splendid Stag  already finding new homes, along with a commission for a lovely piece called Alley Cat.

So I thought I'd show you another piece of work from Barbara, a stunning 3D study made of recycled biscuit tins, each indiviually shaped, hammered and fixed to a heavy wooden board.  Sisters is a big piece, 161x81cm in dimensions, and it is truly stiking.

How stunning is that?  It is one of those works of art that you can look at for hours, continually finding something new to marvel at.  The stir it is creating in the gallery reminds me a little of how all thise people were coming in during the Festival Exhibition to paw over the Graham Flack painting, Saul - a mixture of fascination, awe and delight.  Here's an idea of the extraordinary detail:

Pretty incredible, I am sure you agree.
Sisters is the artists version of a painting hanging in the Tate Gallery called, variously, Cholmondeley Ladies/Sisters/Twins, the options being the result of it being by an unknown painter and there being no records of it's origins.  The painting, below, is believed to have been created circa 1600, and although very little is known about it, it is known to be have owned by the Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumley - the wonders of the English language) family, and it is therefore assumed that the ladies are members of the family.

Barbara has always been fascinated by the painting, and you can tell that she really enjoyed creating this amazing piece.  And, when you look at the original painting, you can see how much attention to detail she payed, and how much her work is really an homage in metal.

Oh, one last thing: if any of you want to buy it, be aware that it is seriously heavy and definately needs a load bearing wall to hang on!  And I will need a lot of persuasion if you want help!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

UG Christmas Party continued!!

Well everyone it's nearly time....and I am getting REALLY excited.

Remember the entry I did about hanging the Christmas Exhibition? I mentioned there were horrid Frank Spencer moments. Anyway sure enough on the second day of hanging one of cables on the window display gave in....luckily no paintings, nor I, were injured during this "comedy" moment. Today my pal Stewart from Edmonds came in to put it right. Edmonds are responsible for our fabulous website, all our printing, invitations and flyers etc. I have to say they are very good, never let us down and remain calm when we have crazy last minute requests!
This is Stewart. He was a wee bit camera shy.

Not so camera shy.....

The upstanding Mr McKenna. We were again blessed with the presence of Mr McKenna today. I think it's wonderful that someone as busy as him finds time in his hectic schedule to pay us a visit and see what's new and what we have been up to. I think he likes the blog.
Union Gallery glowing at night. Not long now and it will hopefully be packed.

Right I'm off to get the party frock on!
Here we go....this is my father. He paints the Geese and Coots.

Never noticed how tall he is until looking at this photo. Eek I think my frock is clashing somewhat with the beautiful Janet Melrose paintings. Do you see the still life painting to the right of my father? It's titled "Paisley Hen" and it's by Georgie may remember me raving about Georgie's work before.
This picture shows Georgie (red coat) and gallery supporters.

Just reassuring Barbara Frank's "Little Donkey" that the Union Gallery artist's party really isn't something to be feared...really!

This is my "little" brother Daniel who is responsible for the Hammerhead Sharks. He got married earlier on in the year....a big hello to the new Mrs Auldjo!

Just behind me on the right is the Dashing Mr Trevor Jones. Mr Jones and I shall be teaming up next Tuesday evening (December 8th) from 6.30 pm to launch the first ever Heart event. Trevor will be giving a talk about his stunning absract paintings and also to tell us more about the amazing work of Art in Healthcare. I too will be giving a talk about the gallery and my own work...will do my best not to bore everyone to sleep. Please feel free to come along to listen to us. No cabbages allowed.
Right this is our youngest recruit Matyn McKenzie. I think he enjoyed himself last night. He maybe a youngster but he could certainly put away the mulled vino!

It was Martyn who painted the wonderful "Shadowed Sea". A star in the making. We are having the piece below framed up for an exhibition in February. It's a big painting and when I viewed it for the fisrt time it immediately put me in mind of Claude Monet's "Lily Pond" although I would say Martyn's painting has a lot more energy. Good stuff.

Above is artist Christine Clark on the right. I showed you one of her superior drawings in the Halloween entry. Very stylish and very slick in their plain black frames. That's Christine's sister on the left. They are so alike!

Well luckily for all involved the classic schoolboy error of flat camera batteries meant no one could be ridiculed. Below is a nice gentle number. I love the way the windows are steaming up.

And this curiosity. Yes probably best the camera was put away.

I think we all had a great time and I even managed to squeeze in a spot of dancing care of the lovely Christine McGuire, natural mover and wife of artist Derek McGuire.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

So Excited!!! Union Gallery Christmas Party 2009

Hello everyone.  I am getting really excited about the Union Gallery Christmas Party tomorrow night! We have now been in business six months, and thought it would be lovely to celebrate with all the artists who have shown with us in that time. It's our way of saying thank you for all the support and hard work they have put into making the gallery a success so far. We have always firmly believed that the gallery space is their space too, and without the efforts of our partners we would not have achieved as much as we have. The party also coincides with Broughton Street's December late night opening which will be repeated again next Thursday evening. Many traders will be open late, if you fancy a trip down our fabulous street. If you happen to be passing the gallery door our party should be in full swing should you care to join us.
We will endeavour to bring you all the live action from Union Gallery with photos of the party as it happens.  However, if it's getting really rowdy, it could be posted on the Friday....or perhaps Saturday if we are all a bit fragile.
Watch this space.....can't wait!